It can be overwhelming trying to lose weight or just get back into balanced lifestyle after giving birth. Your body has been through a lot and you’re probably exhausted! Our sports scientists put together some simple postpartum workouts for you to do at home, to help you ease back into training.
Congratulations mum, you did it - your bundle of joy has arrived! While this is a beautiful and exciting time getting to know the newest member of your family, it’s also a challenging time as your body begins to heal from childbirth.
What happens to your body during pregnancy
Your body undergoes significant changes during pregnancy, as it nurtures the life inside you. Your uterus grows from around 50g in size up to a kilogram. The circumference of your rib cage also increases to accommodate the change in size of your uterus. Your stomach, intestines and surrounding organs all shift to your sides to make way for the growing baby. But you already know this first hand.
Now, it’s time for everything to return to its place. Welcome to the “fourth trimester” or postpartum period.
What to expect from your body postpartum
The postpartum period is often referred to as the “fourth trimester” because experts suggest that women should view this as part of their pregnancy.
It’s just as important not to put strain on your post-pregnancy body, as it is while you’re carrying your child. Your body is still going through massive changes and will be for a few months. Don’t try to attempt any drastic diets for rapid weight loss as this is extremely dangerous for your health. Rather aim for gradual weight loss by easing slowly back into training (once your doctor says it’s safe to do so) and maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.
9 easy exercises to help you get back into training
It typically takes six to eight weeks before your doctor clears you to resume exercising (assuming you had no complications during childbirth). Once you’re given the go ahead, you can try the following 12 week workout to help you ease back into your workout routine.
Try the following activities for the first six weeks:
20 minutes of walking
Walking is a great way to slowly reintroduce physical activity back into your daily life. It’s also something you can do with your baby, which eliminates the need to find a sitter while you go to the gym. Try to fit in a 20 minute walk five days per week. Pop your baby into a stroller and take a slow stroll around the block, using this time to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air, and bond with your little one.
Heel sliders are a low impact exercise which help to strengthen your pelvic floor. Lie on your back (supine), with knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Slide your right heel towards your buttocks (or as close as you can get it) and then return to your starting position. Repeat this action with the left heel.
Aim to do three sets of ten repetitions with a one minute rest between sets.
Lie comfortably on the floor (make sure your bladder is empty) as you would for heel sliders, knees bent and feet flat. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles and hold for about three seconds. Relax your muscles to the count of ten and repeat this exercise ten times. Try to do this every day and gradually build up to holding each kegel for 20 seconds.
After six weeks, ramp up your routine to include the following exercises:
By this time, you should be ready to start introducing light to moderate intensity cardio to your workout. Here’s a few more advances exercises for you to add to your training sessions for the next six weeks.
A 20 minute jog or cycle
Instead of walking five times a week, try to replace two of these days with a light jog or cycle. This will give you time to put on some headphones, listen to your favourite playlist or podcast and take some time to enjoy the much-needed “me-time”.
Although being a busy new mum means it can be hard to find five minutes to have a cup of coffee (let alone exercise), it’s important to set aside dedicated time for yourself. By using your “me-time” to go for a jog, you’re killing two birds with one stone: replenishing both body and mind.
If you’re looking for some other simple inspiration to help you nurture your brain, body and belly, you can download our checklist, Mastering the Art of Self Care.
Lie on your back with your hands at the sides of your body, as if you were going to do a heel slide. Slowly lift your hips off the ground, with your knee joints, hip joints and shoulder joints in straight alignment - forming a bridge. Lift your right knee, followed by your left and then slowly lower your hips back to into the starting position. Do this ten times to complete a set.
Image source: PopSugar
Try to do three sets of ten, with 90 seconds of rest between each set.
Lie on your stomach, chest facing the ground, with your feet straight and arms straight above your head.
Lift your chest and arms, keeping your arms straight out in front of you. Lift and lower your arms and legs (right arm with left leg, left arm with right leg) in a scissor motion (alternating between sides) for 30 seconds.
Image source: PopSugar
Do six sets of 30 seconds, with a 45 second rest between sets.
Alternating dead bugs
Lie on your back with your arms straight up at a 90 degree angle to your shoulders, perpendicular to the floor. Tuck your knees in 90 degrees at the hip joint and 90 degrees at the knee joint. Lower and straighten your right arm and left leg, while holding your left arm and right leg in position. Bring your body back to the dead bug position and then lower your left arm and right leg.
Image source: Health Diary 365
Do six sets of alternating dead bugs with a 45 second rest between sets.
Get into a squat position (torso facing forward) with both your arms held straight in front of you, hands facing down. Slowly rotate your torso and arms to the left, while holding your squat, and then to the right.
Do three sets of 12 reps (six per side), resting for a minute between sets.
Finally, it’s not easy getting back into training after giving birth, so don’t be disheartened if your body takes a bit longer to recover. Remember, you’ve been through a lot over the last nine to 12 months - you’ve created a life! It’s okay to be tired. Listen to your body if it tells you that you need more time to rest the last thing you want to do is push yourself too soon and prolong your recovery.
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