Ready… steady… GO! Exercising with a young baby
If you’re feeling ready to get up and get moving… talk to friends with older children, ask around your coffee groups, keep an eye on community notice boards for ideas on keeping active…
Walking: this is the perfect form of post-pregnancy exercise. You can vary it to meet your fitness levels and it costs NOTHING. Do it with friends or by yourself; walk round neighbourhood streets or walk to visit a sympathetic friend who can offer you a cuppa or glass of water at the halfway point. Lots of local councils are now organising walks for parents and children – give yours a ring to see if they have something similar.
Fitness classes with baby: some local gyms and other community centres offer aerobics or other classes (e.g. pilates, yoga etc) that you can do during the day with your baby. Lots of fun for some babies, although be prepared to leave in the middle if baby won’t settle, and these classes should be open to you feeding and changing half way through. I did my local Buggy Fit class every week and it was a great way to meet local mums as well as feel good about myself.
At home: buy or borrow from your local library an exercise video or DVD. Pop baby on a rug on the ground and exercise away – you might even get the odd giggle from her! This is great because it can be fitted around your schedule and there’s NO need to feel embarrassed about your saggy baggy body and untrendy clothes with baby spit on them!
Pelvic floor exercises: start these as soon as you can after your baby’s birth. And these are the ultimate portable exercise – anytime anywhere and no-one else need know you are doing them. Why bother? Believe me, it’s worth it, you don’t want to be leaking wees every time you sneeze, cough, jump up and down, or pick up your hefty toddler in a year’s time!
- Don’t overdo it and start out slowly.
- Listen to your body and be careful not to place strain on your back and joints. Following pregnancy, your joints are still loose form the increased relaxin (that’s ‘relaxin’ not relaxing J and they will flex further than normal so treat them with care.
- Diastasis recti is when the long muscles from your diaphragm (which sits at the bottom of your ribs) to your lower belly separate like a zip and happens to some women as their pregnant bellies grow. Ewww, how painful does that sound? In fact, it’s not painful, but it is important that you avoid traditional sit-ups until the gap closes (can take about four to eight weeks). To check this, lie on your back with your knees bent up. Place your hand on your tummy just above your belly button. Breathe in, then as you breathe out, gently life your head and shoulders off the floor. As the muscles tighten, you may be able to feel the gap where the muscles have separated. For a gap more than about three fingers stick to pelvic tilts and avoid sits ups. Once it is down to about one finger size, you can resume your normal abdominal work out.
- If you are breastfeeding, take extra care to support your breasts well. Make you’re your bra is well fitting, not super tight though, as tight restrictive clothing can block milk ducts which can bring you a world of trouble (see Chapter 6). High impact activity may be best avoided while you are sporting your tender, full uber-boobs.