Becoming a mum for the first time means so many things. There’s stepping into a new role, the delight of meeting your new bub, the full realization that someone is fully dependent on YOU for their every need, the exhaustion and the guilt! No matter what choice you make as a mother no one tells you about the guilt you will feel for that choice and I’m pretty sure it continues throughout your child’s life!
Then there is the recovery of your body. There may be a traumatic birth to heal from, hormones raging, possible breastfeeding discomfort and many, many sleepless nights. The recovery time can vary greatly between women but even with a smooth pregnancy and birth, we all need to consider that many changes take place during the time we grow our baby.
Our alignment and the way we walk changes to accommodate our growing tummy. Adjusting to our growing baby the ligaments of the deep pelvic joints can become compressed and strained resulting in back pain. Weight distribution changes over our feet as well and this can cause cramping and pain in the feet with resulting fascia thickening.
Following the birth we may experience abdominal separation and pelvic floor weakness and as our lifestyle changes to sitting breastfeeding, pushing a pram or carrying a growing baby, little niggles in our wrists, necks or knees can become more problematic.
Now with a new human to care for and all these body changes to contend with, we realise we should lose the extra weight from the pregnancy or get our former strength & fitness back………getting back into exercise can be an extremely daunting prospect!
There are SO many exercise choices these days, which is great, but for a new mum it is so important to find a training program that will be the right fit for what is going on in life. If you have someone to care for your child, the choice might be easier but if you need to take your bub with you, the options are reduced slightly.
There are still many facilities that offer a crèche service and depending on your goals you could find physio Pilates, Pilates studios, yoga, and gyms. Then there are the smaller indoor and outdoor training groups that cater to mums by sometimes offering a nanny service.
Any of these is a great option but mums need to know that THEY are the only expert when it comes to their post-natal body. Doctors and physios can tell what they can see but only YOU can feel what exercise is like for your body.
You may feel just like before and have a smooth transition back into your former exercise regime or you may have to accommodate the changes and adapt your training accordingly. Both of these scenarios are fine – don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t rush the process!
Feeling pressure from other mums is an easy trap to fall into but this is a time when going at your own pace will have a better result in the long run.
I suggest clients use the first 4 months after the birth to work on pelvic floor, core and low impact exercises. Most trainers and instructors experienced with post-natal training will be able to adjust exercises to suit their clients regaining strength and fitness after giving birth. If you have any concerns with performing a set exercise let your trainer know. Staying silent serves no purpose and you need to look after your body.
Some clients find this frustrating and just want to exercise like before baby but I have experienced in my own training and witnessed others go through the same frustration when they go too hard too early and end up doing damage. It’s just not worth it. You can still enjoy challenging workouts and feel fabulous but these first four months are especially important. Listen to your body. You are the expert!
Mums bodies are different. They are not better or worse but they have created a life and changes have occurred. Exercising with these differences in mind will result in a strong and healthy mum!
Dreading your workouts will not incentivize you to keep going. Moving should be fun so find a workout that suits your lifestyle, makes you look forward to going and makes you feel great afterwards!