Being a new mom takes a toll on your body, especially if you’re not in your 20’s. I’m a late bloomer and like many women these days, I had my baby after my 40th birthday. No matter what age you have your baby however, you have to rebuild your muscles and continue to do so every day.
For many reasons I had to have a c-section. I am six months postpartum and every day I’m taking baby steps to strengthen my core. I think many people think because I’m a trainer I haven’t experienced difficulties in rebuilding my physical strength, but that is far from the truth. Rebuilding your body after a baby takes hard work and discipline. So here are four pieces of advice for women who are working on getting their body back as well as three exercises to help you get there.
- Get clearance from your Doctor. Before you start any exercise regime, particularly after a c-section, you must get clearance from your doctor. For the most part, new moms are allowed to start exercising gently, six weeks after having the procedure. But it’s best to talk to your doctor about the type of exercise you want to do, to make sure it will be ok. With pilates that’s particularly important, because you are doing a lot of core work. So it could help if you run the exact exercises you want to do, by your doctor, just to make sure your body is ready.
- Remain POSITIVE. In my experience, having a baby is a whirlwind to say the least. There are days when you feel like you have it all under control and other days when it all seems like too much. When I became a mom, I made a conscious effort to remind myself to stay POSITIVE. One way I did that was by choosing the circle of people around me. The people you associate with have an influence on your well being. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help and guidance from a great therapist because life postpartum can be incredibly challenging mentally.
- Be kind to yourself. Your body and mind get you through every day, they do so much for you. It would really only be fair to treat yourself as though you are your own most cherished friend. I feel it’s of the most importance. If you can let go and trust yourself, this will be the best way to achieve your results. Having said that, being kind to yourself and not beating yourself up over small things like skipping a day of exercise is key to lasting success in fitness and exercise.
- Start slowly. I have chosen three exercises that can ease you back into Pilates after having a baby. I started with these when my baby was one month old. It was the beginning of the process of rebuilding my center and structure. Remember you were pregnant for 9 months. The weight and strength you’ve lost may take some time to come back to you. Baby steps are not only key, they are totally ok. I would strongly advise against any crash diets because that can affect your baby. Particularly if you’re breast feeding. Slow and steady wins the race in my opinion and I’ve been doing this for a long time.
1) The Roll Up
Lay on your back with your legs straight out in front of you. Have someone hold your feet down as you stretch your arms back over your head, then roll-up slowly one vertebrae at a time. If you can’t get up after your surgery have whomever is holding your feet, grab your hands and help pull you up on the first couple until you get the hang of it and get stronger. Do 5-10 roll-ups every day. Remember to keep pulling your stomach in and up.
- Lie flat on your back. Extend arms, shoulder width, over your head, palms facing up. Legs are straight and together. Pull naval into spine.
- Inhale slow, raise the arms to the ceiling. The head goes through your arms as you pull the navel deeper to the spine.
- While finishing the exhalation, continue forward until the upper body is over the legs.
- Inhale slowly while you roll down one vertebrae at a time. Maintain the arm at shoulder height.
- Exhale as you lift the arms to the ceiling and back overhead, stretching more and more.
2) The Hundred
This exercise can be very challenging. But there are varying levels, so you can start at beginners level.
Laying on your back, bend your knees and keep your feet on the floor. Lift your head up into a “C,” curve and pump your arms up and down 4-6 inches while inhaling for 5 counts and exhaling for 5 counts. Repeat 10 times. 10 x 10 = 100 hence the name.
Trivia break: Joseph Pilates would let his clients name the exercises.
- Lie on your back with your arms stretched out along your side.
- Pull your knees into your chest
- Beginners- keep knees bent #2
- Advanced- Straighten your legs #3
- Inhale through your nose, pump arms for 5 counts. Keep arms straight and pump from shoulders only.
- Exhale thru the nose, continue pumping for 5 more counts
- Repeat until a maximum of one hundred movements are reached
3) The Single Knee/Leg Stretch
Laying on your back, grab you right knee into your chest, stay high in your “C,” curve. Your outside hand holds your ankle and your inside hand holds your knee. Switch sides and repeat 10-20 times with each leg.
- Pull the right leg in bent as far as possible, towards your chest.
- Be lifted into a “C,” curve with your upper body.
- Place the outside hand on your ankle and the inside hand on your knee.
- Opposite leg is extended out all the way.
- Switch sides and repeat