Getting Back to Fitness
You’re a post-baby mother and you’ve got all the bits to prove it. You’ve put off the inevitable task of reclaiming your fitness but can do so no longer. Here are a few problems that I have either encountered myself or have come across daily while training other new mothers.
1. Your Boobs
I’ll start with the boobs because, let’s face it… all 5 of the problems could be about them! Now personally I had no issue dealing with the problems that the boobs brought because post baby was the first time I had a proper pair. And they’re gone now which makes me sad but yes they do come with their fair share of problems.
Let’s start with size: Breastfeeding or not they can take on a life of their own and make exercise a physical danger to your face. They must be heavily bound to attempt even the lowest of impact exercises. Now is the time to invest in a strong exercise bra. Remember that or you shall find yourself explaining away some nasty bruising!
They hurt: I still cringe about the time when, pre-baby, I set a breastfeeding Pilates client the task of doing an exercise which began with her lying on her stomach and yes, her boobs too. God love that girl. All exercises that involve you lying in this position are best avoided or modified or a good dose of pain relief will be necessary for a while afterwards.
They leak: Supposedly they leak less when you are actually exercising but I’m not so sure about that one. Pad like your life depends on it when you’re exercising and be VERY careful about the colour top you choose should said pads not do their job correctly!
2. Pirates of Penzance
Ok, sorry… I’ll explain that one for anyone who’s not a Pretty Woman fan!
Pirates of Penzance = Pee’ing your pants!!
The mere mention of a jump jack can send a dagger of fear into the heart of every new mother. It’s hard enough to keep control down there when you sneeze or cough so how is something as complicated as a jump jack or, god forbid, going for a run going to be managed?!
Control, control, control. This is one you have to spend time on. You need to exercise your pelvic floor to take back ownership of the choice to pee. How does one do that? Well the pelvic floor is like a sling that sits under your bladder and other such organs. It was under there holding on for dear life for the duration that your little person was being housed. It is now most commonly known as the thing you use to stop yourself from pee’ing all day long when there are 50 more important things to get done first (bottles, water, nappies, washing and on and on). Still not got it? Ok you know when you take the riskiest of risky risks during the night and actually get up to go to the loo? The danger of creaking a floorboard or door on your way and waking your sleeping angel has been weighed up and you just can’t put it off any longer. You sit down to go about your business and suddenly the cry can be heard. Damn! You’re going to have to wait; baby will have to be attended to. Right, that action you just did to stop yourself is your pelvic floor. Along with holding that up get into the habit of pulling your bellybutton in towards your back on a regular basis too and a strong core you shall have in no time.
3. You’ve Got Company
Exercising at home can be the only way some new mammies get their fitness fix. Ideally you get to work out while they sleep and it’s a bonus if they actually stay asleep for the duration. Although personally I prefer to exercise while mine are awake and then shower while they’re asleep. I find this is the best solution to not ending up still smelling to the high heavens at 6pm. Bit embarrassing really. It’s far easier to entertain them with some squat jumps than roaring out ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ to them from inside the shower door.
*Tip: Make sure if you go walking or running with your baby you do so at a time when they’re not due to sleep. No point in wasting ‘me-time’ (aka that time when you might actually get to go to the loo, brush your teeth, possibly brush AND tie up your hair or even have a shower!).
When your baby gets to that stage where they just don’t sleep as much and want to participate then let them. Use them as a weight or as a reason to jump higher or faster for longer. With a bit of luck you have one who thinks that the sight of you throwing yourself around to music is the funniest thing since a snorting Peppa Pig (who co-incidentally will make a great exercise babysitter should your routine fail to enamour). If all else fails get them into the buggy and hit the road for everyone’s sanity. Pair up with another new mammy in the same boat and you won’t feel as hard done by. Just don’t forget the rain cover. This is Ireland after all.
4. You have ZERO energy
I’m afraid you gotta suck it up for this one. Fake it till you make it ladies.
You’re unlikely to have that pre-baby boundless energy again for a LOOOONG time. Too long to risk losing your fitness altogether. You know only too well that once you do it you’ll feel a lot better and may in fact have even more energy. If you don’t, well you’ve still done the exercise, worked off that thing you knew you shouldn’t have eaten at lunch time and now you can go and sit on the couch for a snuggle (commonly known as a period of time where you let your beautiful baby pull your hair and try to take your eyeballs out of their sockets). Bliss!
5. Nothing Fits
Well it isn’t going to either unless you get out there and get moving is it? No seriously though if you have nothing that fits or only have gear that was stretched so much during pregnancy it will end up around your ankles by the time you get to the bottom of the road then go and get yourself something new. Even one fitness outfit that you won’t feel like crap in. Pennys, Tesco and H&M do really good value gear.
You’ll hear enough people telling you to go easy on yourself; don’t rush back, yada yada yada so I’m going to be the other kind of person. Yes, you must be very careful to make sure that your body is ready to resume exercising and you absolutely need your doctor’s clearance first. BUT once you have that GO FOR IT! Yes, it’s tough. Yes, you will face these and probably a whole heap of other problems but you WILL feel the benefits of exercising and it IS worth it. Start slow, join a group that’s post pregnancy specific or look for an instructor who has experience working with post pregnancy clients. YOU are worth it!
One last tip – when you do manage to get into those leggings in the changing rooms (after exposing yourself to half the shop trying to keep an eye on your baby and change your clothes) bend over and make sure you have the right size so that the whole world won’t be able to see your bits!