Image: Courtesy of Mikaela Bodkin, Love Your Postpartum
Our female bodies are designed to have babies.. you made, produced and delivered a gift, your baby.
You enter a whole new world when you become a mum and it’s truly a time to celebrate what you and your body produced. The female body is amazing at recovering and getting stronger, if you let it!
After having my second child my belly felt and looked really squidgy, my skin really wrinkled and saggy and I had a very weak pelvic floor and abdominal separation. Yet it didn’t matter. The last part of my pregnancy had been traumatic with frequent hospital visits and my bump was so large people thought I was having not twins but triplets. I wasn’t in fact there was only one baby but a lot of fluid. However I’d had a scare as one of the scans at about 30 weeks had suggested my baby may have a short leg. When my daughter was born well and in the end naturally, with good sized legs I didn’t care too much about my saggy tummy!
Regaining strength in the first few weeks..
During the weeks of giving birth, regaining strength and fitness was important to me as I knew it would help me mentally as I’d suffered with postnatal depression with my first child. Exercise just also makes you feel so much better, the endorphins you release spark feelings of happiness and boost your confidence. As someone who works in the fitness industry helping mums to be and new mums, I emphasise that there is no need to see exercise as something you must rush straight into just to ‘get your body back’. This is a message you see branded around a lot. Heck, you’ve not lost your body, it’s very much there! However going head first into the wrong kind of exercises too quickly can do more harm than good. Not only that it may not be realistic. A new mum who wants to return to her pre-pregnancy weight is also challenged with child care, less rest and sleep, household chores and the possibility of returning to work at some point.
So, being patient with your body after birth, accepting the complete unknown and seeking support from friends or family to help you through the first few months are the three things I advise to ‘getting your body back’!
Heal and restore your body
The first stage after you’ve had your baby is to just accept the changes, look to ‘restoring’ your body and aiming at some stage to get things back to somewhere close to where you were before.
In the first few weeks, get out of the house or just into the garden for fresh air, vitamin D and movement and walking. Just go with the flow and do not stress about how your tummy or body looks or feels.
The next stage which may be after a few months or a few weeks (everyone is different and everyone has different levels of support or childcare around them) is to make a few healthy habits with your nutrition. More vegetables, lean protein and aiming for just 10 to 20 minutes of exercise a day will deal with a pregnancy pouch and regain that muscle memory.
Then as you emerge through the months, you’ll want to feel fit, strong and more body confident. A post birth body does repair and exercise and good eating are your tools to get there and past a plateau with your weight. Progressing your exercise program for more total body strength exercises for 30 minutes three times a week will get you feeling stronger.
Just like your baby will take it’s first small steps, think of this same process when it comes to healing your body and regaining fitness. During the process, stay relaxed, move each day and be active, eat well, drink plenty of water and be grateful to your beautiful body.
Do you or did you have any post baby body issues? How did you feel about your body or your tummy muscles and how did you deal with it? Do share in the comments box below.
About the Author: Vicky Warr is a pregnancy and postnatal fitness specialist and creator of The Beez Kneez, healthy eating and exercise videos for New Mamas and Mamas to be. She has contributed to BBC Radio and is the fitness consultant to Mothercare and Gurgle Magazine.
Thank you to Mikaela Bodkin for the image, taken from her collection called 'Love Your Postpartum'. View her collection at: