Having a new baby is full on. Caring for their every need day and night, learning all about this new, tiny person as well as the many changes to your own body is demanding, and time yourself is now a precious luxury.
While losing the baby weight is unlikely to be a high priority in the first months, boosting your physical fitness can help you feel stronger and more energised for the non-stop job of being a mum. Plus, helping your body return to a shape and size you’re familiar with can help you to regain a sense of your own identity.
Pregnancy and childbirth are stressful for your body – one of the most physically demanding things you can do – so it’s crucial to take advice from the healthcare professionals like your GP or midwife before you start exercising again. Once you do begin an exercise programme, remember to go easy on yourself and build it up gradually.
If you were a gym bunny before your baby came along, don’t expect your body to be able to do all the things it could a year or 18 months ago – that’s something to work towards. Try to keep your workouts regular but short, so they’re manageable in your new routine of feeding and changing.
To get you off on the right foot, or to complement your at-home workout schedule, why not spend some time working with a trainer or take a break at a health spa, combining personal training sessions with massage and thermal therapies to restore aching muscles?
When it comes to regular exercise, however, you’ll need something that’s convenient for you. So, we’ve rounded up some at-home workouts that are easy to fit into your exhausting new-mum schedule and specially designed to work the muscle groups that most need attention after pregnancy and birth.
BodyFit by Amy’s 30-Minute Post Natal Workout is a brilliant first port-of-call for new mums looking to get back into a fitness routine, or even start something new after giving birth. Trainer Amy Kiser Schemper was herself just six-weeks post-partum when she made the video, so you know you’re in the hands of someone who understands a post-baby body. This workout includes warm-up and cool-down, and you’ll need some small hand-weights.
Lucy Wyndham-Read’s YouTube channel is packed with easy-to-manage workout videos for all ranges of abilities. Her Quick Full Body Workout For Busy Mums is a great starting point – she includes two sets of instructions: one for total beginners and one those with a higher fitness level. Also check out her routine that helps repair abdominal split (or diastasis recti, pictured above).
Australia-based fitness channel The Healthy Mummy includes healthy recipe guides and inspirational weight-loss stories from real life mums, as well as a workouts of various lengths and difficulties. The workouts are based on Pilates, and many videos focus in on just one exercise, giving lots of technical information and variation for ability levels. This workout, for example, is all about rebuilding strength in the core.
Celebrity trainer Ramona Braganza (clients include A-list mum Jessica Alba) leads a 20-minute workout on PopSugar Fitness’s channel, which combines Pilates exercises to strengthen the core with some light cardio to help burn calories. There’s also an easier variation for beginners.
This short video from AKT and trainer Jessica offers a quick-fire, Pilates-based abs workout. It’s probably best suited to women who have done some training already, but once you are feeling a little stronger, this is a good regular one to re-develop that core strength.
Most of these workouts require a bit of spare time while your baby is sleeping, however you can do this abs- and arms-focussed workout from Jen Porsche while you’re holding your baby. The workout features lots of familiar exercises like twists, squats and presses using your baby (safely, of course) as a weight.
If weight-based workouts or high impact cardio aren’t for you, something as gentle and relaxing as yoga can be a good way to ease you back into exercising. This simple practice is just eight minutes and lets you play with your baby at the same time as stretching your muscles and working your core.
Physical exercise after something as strenuous on your body as childbirth should always be taken gradually and cautiously, even more so after a cesarean. In this video, trainer Micky Marie Morrison takes you through a yoga-based workout that’s designed for post-cesarean mums.