A lot of mums think about getting in shape after giving birth. But when is it safe to start? And how best to begin? Equally, a lot of mums wonder whether or not it is safe to continue exercising during pregnancy (or even to start exercising from scratch!). What kind of exercises are safe? Will it hurt the baby? And what kind of exercises to avoid?
I spoke to the very lovely pre and post-natal exercise specialist, fully qualified Personal Trainer and Registered Associate Nutritionist Emma West to get some answers!
Emma tells me:
"Exercise is encouraged for all women throught their whole pregnancy, and is safe and healthy for both mother and child. Physical activity during pregnancy can actually help to alleviate many of the uncomfortable side effects of pregnancy, such as morning sickness and fatigue (bonus!). The benefits of exercise during pregnancy include:
- Improving or maintaining your level of fitness
- Reducing the risk of gestational diabetes
- Helps to prevent excessive weight gain
- Reduces the risk of pre-eclampsia and Caesarean delivery
- Improves mental well-being and boosts energy levels
- May improve recovery time after birth"
I ask Emma:
1. "What kind of exercise is best during pregnancy?"
"If you have already been exercising before pregnancy for the first trimester you can carry on as usual. If you have never exercised before being pregnant - start off with a low intensity. As your pregnancy progresses the intensity and the amount of weight decreases. The most important thing is you do what feels comfortable for you. I have clients who are happy to do certain exercises and others who don’t - pregnancy is different for everyone! You want to make sure you do pelvic floor exercises and also work your deep abdominal muscles helping to keep them strong and prevent severe abdominal separation. Things like abdominal hollowing and pelvic tilts are great to work these muscles."
2. "What to avoid when exercising during pregnancy?"
"After the first trimester you are no longer able to lay on your back as it can affect blood flow to the baby. It’s also important to wear loose fitting clothing to ensure you don’t overheat! After the first trimester, avoid any sudden jerking movements or excessive twisting. If you start to suffer from pelvic pain also avoid excessive movement of the hips joints. After the first trimester stretches should now only be held for a maximum of 15 seconds.
Dizziness is often a common symptom during pregnancy. If you want to do a stretch or exercise laying down start with a standing exercise, then a seated one and finally an exercise laying down (on all fours or on your side past the first trimester). When you want to stand up, perform this sequence in reverse."
3. "How soon is it safe to exercise after having a baby?"
"You should wait at least 6 weeks, when you will have your checkup. Before this pelvic floor exercises, abdominal hollowing and pelvic tilts can be done as soon as you feel comfortable to do so. But it’s when you feel ready to start exercising again and that is different for everyone! Just remember when you start back to not do traditional abdominal exercises (no planks allowed!) take it slow and start off where you finished at the end of your pregnancy. Seeking a qualified pre and postnatal personal trainer also ensures you are exercising safely and correctly."
4. "What is the best way to lose baby weight after giving birth?"
"The most important thing to remember is that you have created a little human and given birth- which is traumatic to the body and it will take time! It took you 9 months to grow a baby and it will take 9 months or more for the weight to come off. Eat a balanced diet (no restrictions, or crash dieting!) and move your body more. Don’t put pressure on yourself and enjoy your baby (or babies!)."
Thank you so much Emma, such great advice, and good to hear it straight from a professional!
Emma is based around Loughton, Essex, and offers pre and post-natal sessions tailored specifically to your needs. She will also bring the gym to you! Sessions take place in the comfort of your own home.
Visit Emma's website for more information and to get in touch!
My next blog post will be my screen time lowdown following last month's free online Screen Time parenting surgery, so check back soon! Read my other posts for more info and advice on dinner times, fussy eaters, buying pre-loved children's clothing, decluttering before your new baby, and thinking about whether or not your family could foster a child.
Get in touch for more information on any of the topics mentioned here or elsewhere on my site, I would love to hear from you!