If your an athlete or usually an avid gym goer it can be very tempting to want to rush to bounce back after baby? Your checking out the bootcamps and crazy diets?? You need to be smart about this! It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of women being told to expect their bodies to ‘bounce back’ like an elastic band after birth. Women don’t need this pressure. In fact, women that are athletes or that are used to regular intense exercise probably need to hear the exact opposite. If your anything like me, you may need to be reminded to be patient and take a rest from time to time. Seriously, YOU JUST HAD A BABY!! Calm down, you will get there. Just give yourself some time. Your a #fitmum, I get that! You love to exercise, you invest in your health and you have a regular training routine that you’re 110% committed to. However, sleepless nights, breastfeeding, domestic tasks, and your mind being constantly ‘on’ thinking about your baby takes it toll at some point. Add a training regime, and you may start to feel like you need a little break. That’s because you do!
All athletes need to take recovery days. In fact, it is on these days that your body can most efficiently build muscle mass, repair damaged tissue and replenish its nutrient supplies. Your body NEEDS the opportunity to do this, and if you don’t give it time to do so, you are likely to find yourself injured, lacking motivation or giving up on exercise altogether.
From the numerous ‘athlete tips’ I have read over the years, the most common statement by far is to ‘listen to your body, and learn to take the ‘rest days’. So heed this advice early! Whether you are a novice, or a seasoned athlete, we all need to take our rest days – especially us mums! So if your a #fitmum wanting to get back into exercise regimes, but your having a bit of trouble slowing yourself down, read on. I bet you that you will have at least one thing that you can learn.
Want to bounce back after baby? Be Patient!
I can not stress this enough. As a new mum, you may be quite eager to get your ‘pre pregnancy body back’. Not only for what it used to look like, but for its athletic ability. It’s so important that you appreciate the massive ordeal your body goes through during pregnancy and birth and give it ample time to recover. There is no rush! If you are wise, and patient you can come back fitter, healthier and stronger than ever before.
You might be feeling a little ‘let down’ by your body as it recovers after pregnancy. Having stretched pelvic floor muscles, lax ligaments, a lack of strength and a few extra kilos can be a bit of a pain in the butt. But take a moment to challenge that thought. Think about all the amazing things your body did during pregnancy. Consider the fact that your cardiac output, kidney function, and blood volume had increased during pregnancy. You adapted to altered breathing mechanics. Your body was able to store fat for use at a later point in time, and it was able to get maximum benefit from the calories you consumed. If these were the results of any 9 month long training program I would say it was a success!
Get the right checks!
So whilst you might not feel your fittest and finest postpartum, your body may well and truly be the healthiest it has ever been. If you do find yourself becoming inpatient with your fitness, stop and consider the miracle your body has just performed. Appreciate it for all that it has done. Be Patient!
If you have recently delivered a baby, make sure that you have been given the ‘okay’ to exercise. Most midwives and doctors will guide you to give yourself about 6 weeks before you start engaging in any structured low impact exercise routines. It is so important that you ensure you have adequate pelvic floor strength and allow your ligaments to recover before you start any high impact exercise or exercise that increases your intra-abdominal pressure. As a general rule this is 3 months postpartum.
I recommend a review with a Womens Health Physiotherapist before engaging in higher impact exercises to ensure your body is ready. If you are feel any discomfort/ heaviness in your pelvic floor region, or experiencing any leakage from you bladder during or after exercise I recommend you cease that particular exercise, and seek professional advice. In the meantime, enjoy lower impact exercises. Consider postpartum tailored yoga, pilates and swimming, as they are all excellent low impact exercise that allow you to build your core strength.
For more information about your pelvic health, check out these related articles
Surrender to your bodies cries for help!
All athletes should have planned rest/recovery days in their training schedule. However, as a mum there may be times where you have planned training sessions, that you are better to miss altogether. The days when your body is screaming out for a rest, but your mind wants to take control. It wants to push you to your limits. You want to get fitter, faster, and you want it yesterday! You need to SURRENDER!
Exercise is meant to be enjoyable. Sometimes your body will benefit more from resting and resetting, rather than always pushing on. Use the opportunity to enjoy a cup of tea and browse the net for your next challenge. Research a piece of equipment / training technique that you have been eager to find out more about. As a new mum you rarely get the time to sit and take 5, so enjoy the break, you deserve it!
Schedule some ‘lighter sessions’
You don’t have to be hardcore all the time! Especially now with a new baby, you need to take things steady for a while. Sometimes what is considered ‘lighter’ work can actually be just a challenging and more beneficial as the hardcore stuff! Scheduling in some ‘lighter’ sessions might actually get you further than you think. Try stretching, core strength workouts and mental practice! Lets consider each of these…
Numerous athletes report that they overlook stretching and maintaining their flexibility. Whilst it will have a positive impact on your training and performance, stretching won’t leave you feeling exhausted like other high impact training sessions will. It will also be nice for your body to have a good stretch now that you will potentially find yourself in awkward positions managing baby equipment and baby herself. Go on, give it a go. It feels so nice! Your baby will enjoy some extra time with Mum on the floor whilst they enjoy some tummy time too.
Core strength workout
Core strengthening is another important component of any good training regime that is often neglected. Again, it won’t leave you feeling ‘worn -out’ if you choose your exercises wisely. 15 – 20 minutes is all you need for an effective core strengthening workout. Given the changes that occur during pregnancy, it’s so important that you rehabilitate and strengthen your core. Especially if you are undertaking high intensity exercise.
Excellent core strength is often the difference between the good and the great athlete. View these sessions as a real opportunity to improve. Remember your core is MORE than just your transverse abdominals! It includes your pelvic floor, mutifidus (your back) and your diaphragm too! If you want some great safe core strengthening exercises, download the pelvic floor first app. It will guide you through the exercises, and you can play some music in the background while you get a great core (and full body) workout.
If your a new Mumma you might have some aches and pains! Check out these exercises in our resource library!
Whilst it won’t have the same effect that an actual training session will have, mental practice has been proven to have positive benefits in skill acquisition when combined with physical practice. Sit and picture yourself performing the task perfectly, with the result you are aiming to achieve. Mental practice is a bit like being ‘mindful’. It will give you an opportunity to reassess your goals, your current performance and get you thinking about any changes you may like to make to your training regime.
Get a massage or take a relaxing bath with mineral salts
Recovery is just as important as the exercise itself. Give your muscles the chance to completely relax and recover with a massage. Tip: find a qualified massage therapist in the style that suits your needs! Take into consideration the side effects of massage, you may need to take some recovery time post massage too. If you don’t have the time to schedule a massage, or need a more ‘ad hok’ approach a nice long bath in some mineral salts can do the trick!
If you want to know about some really beautiful bath salts and how they can help you rest and recover, click the link below:
Listen to your body
Listening to your body sounds simple. Sometimes, because of the competitive nature of athletes it’s not. Think of it as an added skill in your toolkit to really listen to your body! If its asking for a rest, then REST! If you learn to listen to your body you will likely experience longevity in your chosen sport, because you will sustain less injuries and continue to find enjoyment out of it. It’s awesome that your a #fitmum and I support you all the way. Just remember to take care of you, and let yourself have the much deserved break once in a while! These early days with your bubba will pass so quickly, so enjoy them while you can.
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