For those of you that don’t know me I am a 34-year-old mum of two beautiful little people – except they aren’t so little anymore. When they were babies it wasn’t so strange, but now I have one in a school uniform and another one headed that way in January, I often wonder if I’m actually grown up enough to be a mum with kids at school!?
I Iove my babies very much but they can play absolute havoc on your body for quite some time. If you are the mum of a very little baby, are pregnant or are just coming out of the ‘haze’ and wondering if you will ever get your body back I’m here to help.
From rediscovering my own body, twice, and working with hundreds of mums, new and not so new, to help them find theirs; here are my top five tips to get you on track and help you to understand your post baby body journey…
You’re not going to get your old body back
There… I said it! Let go of all of those ‘get your body back’ gimmicks and promises. Do yourself a favor and don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself. Your body has stretched, grown and done things it has never done before – it’s never going to be the same. It’s not supposed to be the same. But in my opinion, it can become better than it has ever been before. Many women will have a newfound knowledge, understanding and respect of and for their bodies. Use this to rebuild it properly and it can become stronger and fitter than it has ever been before. (I’ve seen and experienced it!)
You need to do it different than before
The biggest mistakes I see women make after having a baby is going straight back to what they were doing before hand. The fitter, more active women amongst us being the biggest culprits. I did it myself! I decided I was ‘okay’ post baby number one (and technically from the outset I probably was) add in a very challenging cross-fit session that included ‘hanging knees to elbows’ and I wasn’t quite so okay! Lucking there was no long term damage but I felt like my abdominal muscles had been ripped in half and just walking on a slight downhill was excruciating. I’ve learned a LOT since then and I wouldn’t want you to experience the same thing. You can re-build your body, you can get back to (and surpass) your previous fitness levels but you must take it slow and re-build the proper way.
You can never undervalue gaining expert advice in the postnatal period, whether you are six weeks-, six months- or in some cases six years- post baby. If you have never had your pelvic floor assessed after becoming a mum do yourself a favour and get it done. I see too many mums who push through and put up with symptoms that are sometimes seen as those that mums just have to ‘put-up’ with because they are now a mum. Even women without symptoms can have a weak pelvic floor or be at risk of a prolapse and hard training without any supporting exercises could see that get worse over time. I don’t want to see you reaching for the incontinence pads because your quest to ‘get your body back’ meant you overlooked a couple of fundamental check ups. Remember, you would do anything for the wellbeing of your baby. Make sure you do the same for yourself. A quick trip to your local women’s health physio for a check up using real time ultrasound will get this done.
Your flat tummy will not magically reappear with sit-ups
This fact is becoming a lot more clear with the mums I work with but there are still a few who think or are told that they are back to ‘normal’ and can start doing sit-ups again. Yes, that burn can feel ultra-satisfying, especially if you are feeling a bit wobbly but it’s not what it going to do the rebuilding and reshaping. Knowing and checking for abdominal separation is there first place you need to start in your rebuilding phase. Once this is done, learning how to activate and then strengthen your transverse abdomens muscle is what will flatten, strengthen and give you more definition where you want it.
Allow yourself to be selfish
I list this last but it could possibly be THE most fundamental step in not only rediscovering your body and fitness but also to being a generally happy mum. Many women I meet lose themselves to their baby and children. Yes, your world has changed and you are responsible for other little lives but they only way you can be the very best mother you can be is to ensure that you take time to look after yourself. Both mentally and physically you need to make sure you put yourself at the top of the list. Happy mummy = happy baby! We want to make sure that you remain the awesome woman you were before you had your baby within the mother you have become.