Love to Workout

We all know that we should exercise – but how many of us really love it? As it turns out, I am not afraid to admit to being a total exercise addict. Never into sport at school, the fitness bug really bit in my early 20s – but it wasn’t until I became pregnant and my body started to change that I became truly obsessed! And I am convinced that the exercise I did in pregnancy contributed a great deal to the active, swift and straightforward labours I had with both my children. After the arrival of my first baby, exercise became absolutely fundamental to my postnatal recovery… and sanity!

Here are some of the things I love about exercise both in pregnancy and postpartum.

In pregnancy, exercise can:

  • Boost our energy levels and top up those feel good endorphins when changing pregnancy hormones can be running riot!
  • Stabilise our body to protect against things like PGP.
  • Counterbalance bad posture to prevent rounded shoulders or a hollowed lower back, and backache.
  • Teach us how to move in a pregnancy-safe way; creating awareness of our body to improve our neurological connection with muscle for more effective & efficient movements in pregnancy, but also creating powerful muscle memory to aid postnatal recovery.
  • Encourage pelvic floor engagement to help support our baby’s weight in pregnancy, and learn how to then relax it in childbirth!
  • Harness the power of breath to calm our minds, better activate our muscles, energise and help with contraction pain.
  • Develop strength and stamina to aid an active childbirth, make recovery easier and equip us for the athleticism of parenthood.

After having a baby, postnatal fitness can:

  • Re-strengthen your body and work on the specific areas which need special attention after the pressures of pregnancy and childbirth – namely your core, including the pelvic floor. If not done correctly in postnatal recovery, women can be left with abdominal separation, or ‘doming’, and incontinence issues.
  • Building strength & endurance for carrying your baby, pushing the buggy etc, and then needing to be more active as your baby becomes a toddler / child.
  • Boost your mood with endorphins and offer valuable ‘you’ time, as well as easing the anxieties of early parenthood through breath work.
  • Provide the perfect antidote to the hours spent holding or feeding your little one with stretches for your neck, shoulders and back.
  • Get you out of the house and meeting other mums and little ones if you choose to find a class environment.

If you’re a new mum or mum-to-be looking to start some pregnancy or postnatal exercise here are our top fitness tips to set you up for success!

  1. Consult the experts – find pre- and postnatally qualified instructors and check with your healthcare professionals that they are happy for you to start exercise in pregnancy or after childbirth. Recovery from a c-section or episiotomy can be longer than a natural delivery, but whatever kind of birth you’ve had, you should ensure you’re checked for abdominal separation (diastasis recti) and tailoring exercise to any gap until it’s healed. We have a useful video from Pilates instructor Magda on that here:
  2. Gear up – chances are your body is changing in pregnancy or has changed since you last pulled your pre-pregnancy leggings on. You may need a new sports bra to support a different chest size or that you can breastfeed in, leggings to accommodate your bump, or new trainers as softening ligaments in pregnancy can cause your feet to change size.
  3. Be prepared – get your exercise kit out the night before so you’re not rushing around trying to find everything and risk missing your opportunity.
  4. Make an exercise plan for the week – book in your exercise sessions like you would a dental appointment (except more frequently than once every 6m!). The Busylizzy App is great for that – allowing you to add a class to your calendar once you’ve booked it!
  5. If plans change due to work commitments or your baby not settling, don’t write the day off! Wrap up and head out for a walk instead. Fresh air is a great mood booster and walking is a brilliant calorie burner, while also building stamina and strengthening and toning those legs and bum!
  6. Variety is the spice of life, and the key to keeping you mentally focused and physically challenged. Don’t do the same thing all the time – change it up and keep your body guessing.
  7. Find an activity you enjoy or has a social element. This is your ‘you time’ after all!
  8. Include a mind / body class such as Pilates or Yoga at least once a week to help relax the body and de-stress the mind.
  9. If weight loss is your goal (postnatally), don’t weigh yourself! Find an item of clothing that’s a little snug and use this as your reference point. Muscle weighs more than fat so you may be trimmer and down a dress size as a result of exercise, but weigh the same or just a little less which can be demoralising.
  10. If exercise starts to feel easier as you get fitter, remember to pick up the pace a little and go for the harder options available (as long as they’re safe for your stage of pregnancy or postnatal recovery).
  11. Do include a rest day to give your body a chance to recover and remember to always listen to your body.