Stretch marks, plus-size model breasts, and raised veins are just some of the wonderful prizes nature hands you along with your new tot. But, over the previous nine months the changes that went on within your body to grow your baby have really taken their toll. Now, you’re amped to get your body back into shape, you’ve got these challenges stacked up against you.
How’s this for a shopping list of worries? Incontinence, lower back pain, lengthening and separation of the abdominal muscles, lack of energy, and super sensitive breasts.
So, how do you work around these to get back on track without injuring yourself – or more likely, giving up after a couple of weeks?
‘For most women after pregnancy, a high focus should be put on strengthening the abdominal, pelvic floor and overall core muscles – with a high emphasis on correct form and posture in all exercises,’ says the Head of the BODYTEC® Training Academy Gerry Gerhardt. ‘BODYTEC® is a well-suited training form to achieve this, as every single exercise activates these muscle groups and in comparison to most conventional training methods, also activates deeper muscle tissues in the core area, which are generally more difficult to activate,’ he explains.
And those painful breasts? Avoid impact movements, such as jumping, running, rapid changes of body position or movements that involve the chest muscles, recommends Gerry. Think controlled and slow movements and exercises in the first weeks after giving birth.
Another aspect often overlooked, as it not directly linked to the changes of the body during or after pregnancy, is your lack of energy. Many women after pregnancy face an increased energy demand due to milk production, a lack of sleep and emotional demands of being a parent. That means, recovery periods after training sessions should be a little bit longer and the training duration should be rather short and focused in order not to lose training motivation, suggests Gerry.
He recommends that you wait at least a month, to six weeks before you start formal exercise if you have had a natural birth, and six to eight if you have a surgical birth.
But is there anything you can do at home to get you moving in those first few weeks? Gerry recommends you try the following moves at home if you have had a natural birth.
With both feet flat on the ground, with your knees at a 90 degree angle, put both hands on your thighs and come up slowly with your fingers towards your knee, and then slowly bring your body back down. 15 to 20 reps, 3 to 5 sets depending on your level of fitness before or during pregnancy.
In the same position, move your hands towards the opposite ankle (one side at a time). Use the same slow controlled movements while coming up and down. 15 to 20 reps, 3 to 5 sets depending on your level of fitness before or during pregnancy.
Take a pillow or soft ball (two tennis balls work well) and in the same position as above, place them between your knees. Slowly squeeze your knees together and then release. Always make sure you have an area as wide as at least two fists of space between your knees to avoid putting too much strain on your pelvic area. Do 15.