Exercise_for_the_coreIn today’s society, there’s a whole lot of pressure on mums to lose baby weight fast on some extreme fast weight loss diet and I advise following a healthy and safe weight loss plan like the Lose Baby Weight plans if you do choose to start losing your pregnancy weight.
We see celebrities drop weight in record time and in the case of Heidi Klum walk the Victoria’s Secret catwalk clad in lingerie after her 4th child only 5 weeks after giving birth.
Sure, that’s pretty aspirational and impressive but if you had a team of people helping you look after junior, cook healthy meals, train you every day and motivate you – knowing you’ll have to fit into diamond-encrusted lingerie in just a few months – I’m sure you’d be able to do a Heidi, too!
28_day_challengeWhat you do have though, is the ability to decide here and now to make some time for yourself. To look after your own body, mind and spirit rather than giving into the overwhelming feelings that having a baby can sometimes produce. Sleep deprivation, changing hormones, exhaustion and recovering from labour are part and parcel of being a new mum but slowly and bit by bit you can reclaim your pre pregnancy body along the way
The really, really good news is, if you listen carefully to your body and were active right up until the end of your pregnancy, you can start with some light stretches and gentle exercises pretty much when you feel ready.
And if you didn’t feel like exercising during your pregnancy or towards the end of it, cut yourself some slack and slowly ease yourself back into it. I like going by a rule of thumb that says the time you took off before giving birth is going to be roughly the time it will likely take your body to return back to exercise – bearing in mind that everyone is individual and that rule goes totally out of the window if you’ve had any complications. So best check back with your doctor and midwife – or physio, if you have one – and follow their advice. And listen to your body.
If you feel ready to start exercise, a great idea is to start from the stabilising muscles of your core, like your pelvic floor and transversus abdominis. Not only will that help you work back to stronger exercises but it will also protect you from any postural problems due to the strain of carrying around your newborn and often sitting in awkward positions.
Provided you don’t have muscle separation (see below), there is no reason why you shouldn’t start doing Pilates exercises to strengthen your core provided you stay in a neutral position with your spine and try not to activate the rectus abdominus – the six pack muscle that can separate during birth. So no crunches, but plenty of Hundreds – see our video below.
[pb_vidembed title=”Core Exercise – The Hundreds” caption=”” url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3wnPqQtTFQ” type=”yt” w=”500″ h=”281″]
300_250_healthy_mummy_pregnancy_DVDYou can do some arm, leg and back work. Walking is also a great way to get your body back to some weight bearing exercise, get your cardiovascular system working and let the happy hormones flow as you get some fresh air. And you may find that as you start slowly with ten to twenty minute walking or Pilates breaks here and there, you’ll feel your motivation lift and you’ll be able to increase your intensity, length and frequency quite naturally.
Just a word of advice: swimming, while gentle and normally a good rehab and return to exercise choice, is not recommended for the first 6-8 weeks (make sure you have stopped bleeding entirely before you hit the local swimming pool or ocean).
We know it can be hard to make that first step towards exercise but it’s worth snatching ten minutes here and there when your baby is asleep. You’ll be a happier, healthier mummy for it.
To sum it up: start at the level that you left off and give yourself roughly the same amount of time post as pre pregnancy to ease back into exercise. Integrate Pilates and walking as soon as you feel ready and build up to anything that feels good or was on part of your routine before at a steady level.
Any symptoms such as shakiness during ab work, bleeding after or during exercise, lightheadedness etc are a sign to back off. If you have specific exercise concerns, make sure you work with a qualified professional who can asses you on a one to one basis and always listen to your body.

Muscle Separation

Your core is more than just the six pack muscle we quite often refer to when we say someone has a ripped core.
In fact, this is the most superficial and perhaps least important muscle to strengthen when you’re looking to get a more functional core, cinch your waist in and tone up or let your separated abs heal. (it’s also the muscle that separates – which is why doing sit-ups until the cows come home to help you lose your baby weight would be a terrible idea and make your rectus abdominus bulge and it could separate even more and is why you should avoid crunches and standard Pilates 100′s).
You should examine yourself to find out what degree of muscle separation you have experienced before undertaking any post partum-exercise (needs to be under 2cm) or receive clearance from your Doctor.

healthy mummy smoothiesHow to examine yourself

Step 1 – In a lying position with knees bent, place your right hand behind your head.
Step 2 – With your left hand position your index finger and middle finger together and place them horizontally in the centreline of your stomach between your abdominals.
Step 3 – From this position slowly raise your head slightly off the floor using your right hand (positioned behind your head) for support. Make sure not to simply lift your head with your hand as this is a comman error – you must perform one basic crunch to fully contract your abdominal muscles to get the best assessment of your separation.
Step 4 – Your abdominals will now be slightly contracting allowing you to see exactly how far your abdominals have separated.
Step 5 – If your index finger and middle finger (on your left hand) can still fit between your abdominals you will have Diastasis Recti of between 2 – 2.5cms. For every additional finger you can place inbetween your abdominals you should add 1cm extra to your total abdominal separation number. If you can only fit one finger between your abdominals you effectively have 1cm of separation and will be nearly healed.
If you discover you have more than a 1 – 2cm separation you should refrain from doing exercises such as crunches, sit-ups or pilates 100′s all of which can put too much pressure on the abdominal muscles which have become separated during pregnancy.
See our next article and videos which discuss the Pelvic Floor here and see more of our exercise videos for your core, bums and thighs here
*Please note that we do not advise beginning any exercise plan post pregnancy until you have had clearance from your Doctor of Physiotherapist. Also, do not attempt the video demonstration of the “100’s” until you have clearance from your Dr or physio post birth”
This article was written by Sol Walkling, the Lose Baby Weight Pilates expert and Trainer – to see Sol’s credentials and read more about her click here

Get Our Exercise DVD

And for the ULTIMATE SAFE, EFFECTIVE & TRUSTED Post Pregnancy Workout – see our EXPERT Post Pregnancy Exercise DVD below – you can purchase and see more information on it here
The DVD can be followed by all mums (for example new mums or mums with older children) and can be followed by someone with a basic or a more advanced level of fitness.
Lisa Westlake is our incredible fitness instructor and postnatal exercise specialist throughout the DVD. With her extensive physiotherapy experience and qualifications (Lisa is one of the most awarded fitness professionals in Australia), Lisa is the perfect fitness instructor to bring The Healthy Mummy Post Pregnancy Exercise DVD to life – you will love working out with her. (You can see our Q&A with Lisa with commonly asked questions on the DVD here)
The exercises in The Healthy Mummy Post Pregnancy Exercise DVD are effective and safe and Lisa will guide you through each of the workouts. As well as assisting in the improvement of your overall fitness levels, the workouts in the DVD will also help in the burning of calories, the improvement of your core strength and the strengthening of your pelvic floor.
The six workouts are broken down into 10 and 15 minute sections that you can do when it suits you – or if you have the time and energy you can do the DVD as one 70 minute continuous workout. The Healthy Mummy Post Pregnancy Exercise DVD also covers special considerations post-birth, such as caesarean sections, back strains, muscle separation, incontinence and pelvic floor issues.
[pb_vidembed title=”The Post Pregnancy Exercise DVD” caption=”” url=”http://vimeo.com/73423922″ type=”vem” w=”600″ h=”450″]

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