4 Tips for Mothers Returning to Exercise After Having a Baby
1) Ease Yourself Into It
Whilst you may have the urge to throw some weights around and push yourself to your limits, take your time when getting back to exercise after pregnancy. Start off with body weight exercises like push-ups, inverted rows, squats and even resistance band exercises.
Doing hundreds of burpees may get you sweating a fair bit and gasping for air, but remember a measure of successful workout/training plan is not how heavy you are breathing but the progress you make throughout the coming weeks back to exercise. Look for strength increases, improved balance and increased fitness all the while recovering effectively between sessions.
2) Move More
An often overlooked form of exercise is the simple act of walking.We immediately think we should suffer when we train, this couldn't be further from the truth (particularly after giving birth). Walking is the most basic of exercise but when broken down as a movement it works a shed load of postural muscles, increases your cardiovascular fitness, great for clarity of mind and burns a few calories in the process.
Don't think you need to be doing high intensity sprints, start with walking.
3) Rebuild Your Pelvic Floor & Core
After pregnancy muscles of the core and pelvis tend to be weaker which may lead to back pain. Exercises like glute bridges, clams, modified crunches and some isometric exercises such as modified planks, side bridges are all exercises that will help strengthen your pelvic floor and core muscles.
4) Do You Have Abdominal Separation
When programming workouts/exercise plans for women post pregnancy an often forgotten consideration is the potential of abdominal separation or Diastasis Recti.
Diastasis recti is the natural separation of the abdominal muscles that can occur during pregnancy due to the pressure on the abdomen which can be as wide as 2.5cm+ between each side of the abdominal muscles. This can cause back pain and difficulty holding your urine. Often the muscles tend to recover to their previous tone but can take up to at least a year before returning to normal.
How do you know if you have diastasis recti? If you can fit two or more fingers between your abdominal muscle and belly button then you more than likely have diastasis recti. The best thing to do is to get checked out by your doctor/physician.
If you do have diastasis recti avoid exercises such as planks, push-ups on the floor, mountain climbers, full sit-ups and full crunches. Anything really that requires you to have your hands on the floor should be avoided. Instead perform modified versions of these exercises.