We’re chatting to Kimberley Cleminson, personal trainer, post-natal specialist and founder of Pramercise, exercise classes designed for mums with babies. She tells us how to get started on getting your body back.
As a PT and mum to two boys, Kimberley is passionate about helping mums get fit. She’s frequently asked “What exercises can I do?” and “How can I get my tummy flat again?” by new mums, keen to get back into shape as soon as possible.
Kimberley: You’ve taken nine months to grow a baby and now you’ve got to look after the little one full time, so remember to give yourself some slack and understand that it will take time to get your old body back.
The good news is you can start exercising from your six-week GP check (and 12 weeks after c-section).It can be challenging to find time between the feeding and nappy changing to do this… and of course there’s the fatigue you feel from sleepless nights. However, it can be done!
Doing gentle exercise will increase your energy levels and help you to feel more like yourself again. There are lots of ways you can fit it in, working around the baby’s schedule. These are my top ten tips on how to begin.
Short and sweet
Try and fit in a minimum of 3 x 30 minute workouts a week. If you don’t have babysitting help, join a local exercise class where you can bring the baby in the pram. Netmums is a good place to start looking for classes in your area. If you’d rather workout at home, buy a workout DVD and exercise during your baby’s morning nap.
Wear a supportive bra, don’t forget the pads
If you’re breastfeeding, wear a supportive bra and don’t forget pads, as exercise actually stimulates milk production (through arm movement).
Get your sweat on
Make sure you sweat – you need to be breathless in order to burn calories and shift the extra baby weight. Think of a scale of 1 to 10 – 1 is relaxed breathing, 10 is being unable to talk. Your exercise needs to be around level 8 to achieve results.
Keep it low impact
Keep exercise low impact for the first 6 months to reduce the pressure on your pelvic floor. Check out Fitness Blender for some great examples.
Watch the stretching
The hormone Relaxin has softened and stretched the ligaments in your body, so don’t over stretch or you’ll risk injury.
Pelvic floor care
Concentrate on your pelvic floor every day – keeping these exercises up is super important to prevent incontinence later in life. Try to find a time / place to do them regularly. This could be whenever you’re in your car, or when you clean your teeth morning and night.
Avoid sit ups or crunches
Don’t do these, as they can cause serious damage to the pelvic floor, due to pressure on the abdomen. Work your tummy area through core exercises like pelvic tilts, superman and planks. Concentrate on your overall fitness first – try not to get hung-up on your tummy area, it will improve as your cardio and strength does.
Use light to moderate weights to help tone muscle groups. Strength is important for handling your baby as they grow. If you don’t have access to weights, do bodyweight exercises instead, things like squats, lunges, and tricep dips using a chair / bench.
Mums often have poor posture due to breastfeeding and pushing the pram, so ensure you stand tall and stretch your chest out daily. Do this simply by pulling your arms behind your back (holding your hands there).
And finally – my motto is “mum knows best”
You know how your body feels – if any specific exercise hurts, don’t do it. Stay in tune with your recovering body… It has just done the most incredible thing after all.