Sound advice for getting into shape after having a baby
Following the birth, exercise helps the mother to regain her pre-pregnancy figure a lot more quickly. Studies have shown that mothers who exercise throughout pregnancy gain less body fat, which ensures that at birth the baby is at the smaller end of the healthy range, which makes for a quicker recovery. Post partum exercise is equally important, as the mother not only gets her body back into shape but her emotional wellbeing benefits as well.
It's important to give yourself 4-6 weeks rest following the birth in order to recover fully from the labour and birth and to start to adapt to the new and very busy routine of having a newborn in the house. Before setting out to loose that baby weight, make sure you have been given the "ok" by your LMC. Women who have had caesareans or complicated births especially, need to have been given the all clear.
Starting gradually and progressing sensibly is very important at this time. It is all too easy to launch yourself into a frantic routine of abdominal crunches and fast paced walking in order to tone up that soft, saggy tummy - but believe me, this is the last thing you want to do. A balanced routine of brisk walking and pelvic floor exercises 3 days a week and good, regular nutrition will start to shift some of that unwanted baby weight. Walking is not only fantastic aerobic exercise, but it also gets you and bubs out of the house for some fresh air and some sanity! Breastfeeding is natures way to assist weight loss, so if possible, persevering for the first 6 weeks of your baby's life will not only help your body mobilise those fat stores, it will give your baby the best start you could possibly offer him.
Once you have built up a good base fitness, I then recommend participating in some well constructed group exercise classes. Bear in mind that even if you were a regular and devoted exercise class participant before you were pregnant, you are unlikely to be of the same level now, so aim to go to classes for beginners at least for a couple of weeks. For women who do not enjoy classes, regular swimming, aqua jogging, gym training or running may be preferable, just go easy on yourself the first couple of weeks and build the progression gradually.
These days many fitness centres offer child care options, so bear this in mind when joining a facility, as you are more likely to go if you know your baby or children are in good hands. Otherwise, aiming to co-ordinate babysitting times with your partner, family, friends or whanau may be a possibility. I advise you make regular times each week, and stick to them so that both yourself and your babysitter/s can work easily around those times. Another benefit of this is that you are more likely to commit to your exercise knowing that you are relying on the time of someone else. It's important not to feel guilty about this, as you deserve time to yourself and it will prolong your health, making you a better and more reliable parent.
For times when you really want to get some exercise but have no babysitting options, investing in a good 3 wheeler buggy will mean that you can pop baby in the buggy and get out for a run or a brisk walk. Front packs and back packs are also great alternatives for a young child and they will love being out in the fresh air with you. Including other children in your exercise regime can be fun too. If your baby is in the buggy, you can throw a ball around with your older children, or walk or run up and down steps, counting together as you go. The only limit is your imagination!