Advice from an expertMarch 16, 2018
Postpartum Exercise advice from one of our CONTOUR Instructors, Claire.
One of the best things about our studio is the quality of our Pilates’ trainers and at CONTOUR we are very lucky to have an instructor who specialises in pre and postnatal Pilates. Claire has been with us since we opened and has been teaching Pilates for over 6 years. Naturally, with her Pilates specialism, she was one of the first people I consulted as I began my return to fitness after the birth of my son Angus.
Claire is also a mum herself and understands that returning to exercise, and more importantly, sticking with it can be hard for many reasons. “It can be quite intimidating coming back to the studio after time away and I want to make sure all my clients, especially our new mums, leave their workouts feeling better than when they walked in” says Claire.
Claire’s top tips for your postpartum exercise journey
Don’t be over keen to get straight back into exercise. Your body has been through a marathon so give it time to rest and recover, especially as you will be very tired during those early weeks. Once you have received your six to eight week postnatal check-up (ten weeks for a C-section), you can then safely return to exercise. But prior to this plenty of walking and basic exercises, such as femur arcs and single leg raises which start to engage the tummy muscles, can be done at home.
Extra care for your abdominals
As your abdominal muscles split apart when you are pregnant, it is important to examine your tummy to ensure the healing process has begun. When returning to a ‘normal’ exercise programme make sure that you have a gap of no more than two fingers in width between either side of your abdominal muscles. Your instructor should be able to check your abdominals for Diastasis Recti and make sure you are good to go.
Match effort with second trimester effort
When you return to exercise your programme should be similar to the one you were undertaking during your second trimester. Try to stay away from flexion exercises as this will put a lot of pressure on the abdominal muscles and pelvic floor. Instead, choose exercises such as planks and abdominal hollowing to engage the core muscles.
Low impact exercise
Stay away from high impact exercises and choose low impact versions instead. This is why Pilates is a perfect postpartum exercise because it gives you a whole-body workout without impact. In addition, your exercise journey should incorporate lots of walking, especially in the early days. This can be progressed to jogging as you get fitter and stronger. Take note that Relaxin, the pregnancy hormone which makes joints more elastic and unstable, can stay in your body for up to six months after birth and even longer if you choose to breast feed.
Rest is just as important
Try to incorporate some rest and relaxation into the end of your workout. Babies feed off our energy and a happy relaxed mum will lead to a happy relaxed baby after your exercise session.
Claire has helped remind me that postpartum exercise, especially the early parts of your programme, should really focus on recovery and slow strength building. If you would like to chat with Claire about any part of your post baby exercise routine, just drop into the studio and have a chat with her or leave us a comment below and we will get back to you.
Claire teaches the following sessions at CONTOUR:
· Tuesday evenings at 19:00 (Barre Class) and 20:00 (Cardio Jump).
· Friday mornings at 09:30 (Barre Class), 10:30 (Barre Class), 11:30 (Mixed Ability Reformer Pilates).
· Saturday mornings 10:00 (Dynamic Power Pilates), 11:00 (Barre).