Congratulations on becoming a mother, how exciting! It is a brand new chapter that is exciting and full of changes. It is also a time when we feel we need to take a back seat and focus on the baby. But mums are important too, and we need to take some time to care for ourselves. Let’s look at some exercises for new mothers. 

It is good to bear in mind that in the nine months it took to grow a baby our body underwent lots of changes. It can take us at least this amount of time to get our body back.

Your old gym routine or exercise regime will not be right for you now but will be a progression you can surely attain in the future. Let’s take a look at how we can best spend time for us and get our bodies back right now.

Pelvic floor

– Always on the top of the list.
– This one is vital for mums of any age and for women in general.
– We need to be doing pelvic floor exercise every day.
– 1 in 3 women are experiencing bladder leakage issues.
– This is something you can see either your Women’s Health Physio or contact your GP about.
– Short holds and long holds of your pelvic floor are essential for strength in this area.
– It is important that you are breathing through a pelvic floor contraction and not using any other muscles to assist you.

Posture

– Next time you are passing the mirror, check out your posture.
– Pregnancy alters our posture.
– Your ears should be over your shoulders, your pelvis not to far forward or too far back, your feet should be facing forward. Make sure however that your shoulders are not UP to your ears. Relax them down. Excellent.
– To strengthen your upper back, rowing with a dynaband is great.
– Gentle stretches will help to correct postural changes.
– Stretches need to be gentle and held just until you feel a stretch and no longer than 30 seconds.
– Good areas to stretch after having a baby are the front of the thigh, buttocks, calves, chest and shoulders.

Deep abdominals

– We are talking transverse abdominals
– Important for getting a lovely flat tummy, they also reduce the ab gap and support the back.
– They link in with the pelvic floor as well.
– You can work these muscles by first assuming neutral pelvis.
– Tilt the pelvis forward and back and then find the mid point between the two.
– Think about your hip bones being drawn together with string.
– 25-30% activation is all you need to work this muscle.
– Breathing with contraction is the first stage.
– Once you have done this progress to adding in arm, then leg movements.
– Do this exercise in sitting, side lying, or on all fours.

NB: Please leave out curl-ups as we now know these widen the ab gap and place downward pressure on the pelvic floor.

Tone the buttocks

– It is a good idea to reactivate the buttock muscles and get them firing again.
– Squats are great. Narrow based, not too deep and without load are the best.
– Clams and side leg lifts are excellent for helping to stabilise the pelvis and work a different part of the buttocks to squats.
– Walking on small hills and steps are great for this too.
– Remember to stretch the gluteus out too!

Getting out and about and chill out

– It is really important to get out and about in the early weeks.
– This is good for your mental health.
– It is great to promote mental clarity and improved thought processes.
– It makes you feel more normal doing the things you used to do before being a mum.
– It gives you plenty of fresh air which is good for you.
– Walking is great and in add some hills if you want to get that heart rate up.
– Enjoy and schedule walks often.
– Relaxation time is great and very beneficial. Factor this in too.
– Music, reading, stretching are all good chill out activities.

Most of all just enjoy being a mum it is a great journey, and comes with many challenges. You are important too. Take some time for you.

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Lynda Lovatt is a qualified fitness exercise consultant with a special interest in pregnancy, post-natal fitness and promoting fitness for mums of older children. She delivers menopausal fitness classes and personal training sessions in Wellington. See her website for more about Lynda.

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