Having a baby changes your life, in more ways than you had ever imagined it would. Adjusting to your life as a parent is a bit of a long and winding road. You figure out all the things that have changed and find out what does and doesn’t fit into your new life.
Exercise is definitely one of the things that can lose its place in your life. Just the word ‘exercise’ itself can carry a heavy load. Maybe it’s something you feel you have no time for or perhaps the issue for you is that you feel you can’t enjoy the activities you used to because of an injury or the effects of pregnancy and labour.
Most women will experience some level of pelvic floor weakness post baby, for example and often it goes relatively unnoticed until exercise begins again. You might have been told that the sport you once loved is now no good for you as it won’t help with strengthening the area. And it’s not just the pelvic floor that hinders exercise, joints such as knees, hips and pelvis may be weak, you could be suffering back problems from the effects of pregnancy, posture or even an epidural. You might also have issues around abdominal separation which mean you can’t return to certain activities just yet.
Finding that you can’t do these exercises can be a massive blow, especially at a time when you might already be struggling and you had seen getting out and getting fit as your saviour, something to help get the endorphins pumping and see you through the sleepless nights, the food flinging and general blurriness of motherhood.
It can be a bit of a turning point in the wrong direction for some women, adding to feelings of depression and meaning that your body suffers even more.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. There really is every reason to see this as a new beginning, a time to freshen up the way you see fitness and to try something you haven’t thought of before. There are still lots of options!
First up, we really recommend taking this time in your life to have a little physical MOT. If you tried to go for a run, for example, or attended a high impact gym class and noticed your pelvic floor was very uncomfortable, you leaked urine or you had pain in yours joints – it’s common for many women to simply ‘sit’ on this and hope it will heal. It might do, but it’s worth looking online or getting a recommendation for a specialist women’s physio who can assess and advise you. This way you will know exactly what the issue is and be certain about the way forward.
Training options are many and varied and not doing any exercise isn’t the answer. This could be the perfect time for to book a personal trainer. A trainer, particularly one who specialises in helping pre and post natal women can work around your issues, help you strengthen the areas that have suffered and importantly will make sure you don’t make them worse. This is the perfect time to get your very own PT, even if it’s just for a short while to get you back on track and armed with the correct knowledge going forward.
If you’re a mum – regardless of how recently you had your baby look up post natal fitness classes. These classes are specially designed to be gentle on post baby bodies but still help you to work up a sweat and repair and strengthen areas such as the pelvic floor and abdominal areas.
Next up is to look at classes you wouldn’t have previously considered. If Pilates has never floated your boat – just give it go. Those who try it for the first time are often amazed at how much it really works the body. You might even find Pilates and yoga classes that you can take your baby or toddler along to.
If you’re using a gym, talk to the staff there about your issues and ask for advice on low impact gym activities and seated weight or mat movements.
Depending on your body niggles, there are other classes that you can try if you would like something a bit more high energy that is fast paced but lower impact. Spinning/indoor cycling can be a great alternative for those who like running. Dance based classes such as Zumba or Ballet are also good for working up a sweat without being too hardcore on the body and any decent class leader will help you swap out any jumping moves for something more appropriate.
Long walks might sound like a cliche but they are a fantastic form of exercise that will help you in so many ways – family walks are great for bonding or just getting outdoors and walks alone, or with a friend will really help you clear the mind.
Similarly, swimming is a really effective yet gentle work out that can help you unwind and enjoy some time to yourself.
If you don’t have much time but want to begin focusing on strengthening your pelvic floor and tummy muscles while baby naps, again a specialist trainer can arm you with breathing based exercises that will work wonders for you if done regularly and can be easily fitted in at home while baby sleeps.
There is always an answer when things seem a little bleak – you just need to look in a different place for it.
Please feel free to get in touch with us if you have issues pre or post birth and don’t know how to move forward.
Written by: PENNY STRETTON