Posted on August 11, 2017 by Gordon Smith
Following the birth of your baby, exercise might be the last thing on your mind. However, evidence from The UK Chief Medical Officers Guidelines 2011 shows that physical activity can have “positive benefits to health, improve sleep, maintain a healthy weight, manage stress and improve quality of life”. All these things can help you cope with being a new parent and the challenges that it brings.
One of the ways a new mum can help herself to recover from her baby’s birth is to begin post-natal exercise. This can easily be done in your home gym and fitted around your baby’s needs. Exercise has a beneficial effect on mental health and can offer new mums some “me time” that’s so important with a new baby in the house.
The NHS’s Keeping fit and healthy with a baby – Pregnancy and baby guide recommends that you can begin gentle exercise as soon as you feel up to it. However every birth is unique and consideration needs to be given to your physical health following the birth. Whether you had a natural birth or a caesarean, it’s advisable to wait until your 6 week GP checkup before undertaking any strenuous exercise.
Get yourself ready
- Consider your current fitness level versus your fitness pre-pregnancy. Have you exercised regularly throughout your pregnancy? This will influence your post-natal gym exercise choices.
- Good nutrition is essential for your post-natal recovery period, especially if you’ve chosen to breastfeed. Make sure you are getting a healthy, balanced diet.
- Comfortable clothing is a must. This is a great excuse to update your gym gear! Choose garments with sweat wicking properties to help keep you cool. Get a new sports bra. Both pregnancy and breastfeeding have an impact on your back measurement and your cup size, so book in a measuring session.
- It’s useful to set yourself goals. These can be weekly or monthly, but ensure your targets are achievable and realistic; you don’t want to fail before you even start! It might just be working towards regaining your fitness from before pregnancy, trying out something new or even a longer term challenge like a parkrun. Check out our park exercises too. It’s just as important to regularly review your plans and update them when and where necessary.
- Choose a time in the day that suits you. This could when your baby sleeps if they have a regular nap time, or organise childcare whether it be paid or with friends and family. Enlist your partner’s support to keep you focused or get together with other new mums for motivation.
- Devise a weekly exercise plan that you’re more likely to stick to. You could put it on the wall where it will be a visible reminder or set an alert you on your phone.
- Use technology to your advantage, -there are plenty of phone-based apps available to help keep you on the right track with useful exercises and goals.
Get your home gym ready
- Make sure your home gym has good lighting; if possible, natural light is ideal. The environment needs to be welcoming and inspire activity!
- Consider installing mirrors in the gym to help you assess your technique and maintain correct posture.
- Look at your floor area; some of the best post-natal exercise involve simple floorwork such as crunches, side leg raises and the plank. If possible, move equipment and any other furniture out of the way to make more room.
- Follow our tips on installing a gym in a small space.
- Invest in some gym equipment- start with a few simple pieces e.g. one cardio machine, weights, a skipping rope etc. Then, depending on gym space, more equipment can be sourced. An exercise bike or treadmill are perfect to keep up the momentum through the wintery months, especially if you have a TV in your home gym!
- Our Top Tips blog post has more advice on how to get (and stay) motivated.
Remember; it’s never too late to start exercising after you’ve had your baby and it’s easier than you think to prepare your post-natal home gym. So tomorrow make yourself a healthy breakfast to set you up for the day and begin the preparations!