In the first three posts in this pregnancy fitness ‘series’, I’ve spoken about my experiences of exercise in the first, second and third trimesters. As I’m getting ever closer to not being pregnant anymore, I’ve started to think about my hopes for ‘after’, that strange time which I can’t quite imagine yet but have to start thinking about! So here are my thoughts on exercising after baby is here.
It still seems like a long way off, the point at which I will be able to exercise again after the little one has arrived. As I write this I’m currently overdue (hey 40+4, it’s nice to meet you!), and I know that whatever kind of birth I end up with the minimum recommendation is 6 weeks off from strenuous exercise.
The early days
I also know that realistically, in the early days it’s tough to even get up and dressed, never mind out for a walk or think about moving more. Thee key thing I am aware of is not setting unrealistic expectations of myself in those hazy, crazy post-delivery weeks. Similarly, I think starting slowly (when this happens will depend on how the actual birth goes) and trying to get some walks in with the pram is a good way to get at least a little bit active.
I am also conscious that my main aim is to have a healthy baby, and not to beat myself up about losing the baby weight or having abs. At the same time, exercising helps my mental and physical health, and I do want to try and provide a good example to my little one about making time for me. This may sound really idealistic and only something a non-mum would say, but keeping fit is part of my identity and I do want to try and keep at least a little of that once I become a mum if possible.
Towards the end of this pregnancy I have definitely slowed down. I always knew that I needed to try and stay as active as possible for as long as possible, as if I gave things up too early and then went overdue it would mean a very long gap until being able to start again. But after 38 weeks I had some problems with my joints, and although I’m still walking quite easily baby is just BIG now and very low which makes gym movements quite tricky. So I have cut myself some slack.
I know there are options nearby of mum bootcamps where you can take your baby along, and I would love to try that out if possible once I am ready. I know that just getting out of the house will be a challenge at first, never mind getting to a bootcamp and ready to go, on time, with the baby in tow, but I hope I will get there eventually.
Down the line I would love to try and get back into a once a week bodypump habit, even if Richard has to be in the gym cafe whilst I cram in a 45 minute class. But I know I will need to at the very least have my six week check up post delivery before I do anything even vaguely related to lifting weights, and I have a feeling that by the time baby is 6 weeks old I may not yet be confident enough to leave him for long enough to get a class in. Plus I do think that the sleep deprivation is likely to reign supreme, and having 45 minutes to shower and nap will sound a hell of alot more appealing than getting sweaty in the gym.
I am also aware that diet is super important in the post-birth period, especially if I am successful in getting breastfeeding established. Exercising can throw off your milk supply apparently, so I need to do a bit more reading as to what I will need to eat to fuel my body appropriately if I do want to work out.
Revie Jane on insta is such a great inspiration in terms of post partum training and nutrition, so I will definitely be looking to her older posts on this for information. She has also brought out a ‘train with Revie Jane’ 12 week programme which can be done at home, but I am a bit cautious about that because of it not being specifically designed for postpartum bodies.
Once I am feeling up to putting on a swimming costume I also hope that me and the little one can go swimming, or his dad can take him for a splash whilst I have a swim and jacuzzi session! I know I am likely to struggle with feeling confident enough to bare my post-baby flesh, though, so I am going to take this one as it comes.
I have also started planning for being able to do some workouts at home. This may yet prove crazily ambitious. But I have the Kayla Itsines Guide, and although I definitely won’t be up to throwing myself straight into this (or even following it strictly at all, see my experiences of it here), I will be able to start on some of the workouts at home and I can always adapt them or just do half of each workout so it only takes 15 minutes.
Kayla has also brought out a post-pregnancy programme via her Sweat app so I am keen to give that a go if possible, it seems to be focused on low intensity interval training so might be a good place to start. I have equipment at home and bought a bargain £5 Reebok step from the charity shop the other week in preparation for at home workouts. I will of course be aiming to start simple, and the good thing about Kayla’s guide is that you can just do two rounds of the seven minute circuits and be done in 15 minutes, which I hope will be doable once we find some sort of vague routine.
Les Mills also have some postpartum workout guides, and luckily I also know a local personal trainer who does postnatal sessions, so I may book in a block of those. I know I will need to see how my ab muscles have fared and how much they have separated and work along with those accordingly. I’m also super aware that although I would love to eventually get back into running, all my ligaments won’t really be fully recovered post-pregnancy for a little while so that won’t be a quick fix.
Most of all, I want to give my body time to heal from whatever birth experience is has been through, and also to recover from carrying around this little one for nine months. It has done an amazing job so far, so although I don’t want to punish it for that by allowing myself to turn into a blob, I also don’t want to push myself too far, too soon. Good things take time.
Any advice any of you have would be very welcome, and any online workouts or training programmes which have worked for you I would love to hear about.