Lots of changes have happened to your body during pregnancy – hormonal & musculoskeletal – the effects of these changes are still felt after giving birth and some of the hormones continue to be altered from pre-pregnancy levels.
The good news is that your body has adapted throughout your pregnancy and leaves you some physical gifts after birth; compared to pre-pregnancy your lung capacity changes to take in around 50% more at rest and the amount of blood pumped by your heart is around 30% more – this is why some athlete-mums improve their performance after having had a baby (providing they do the essential strength and posture rehabilitation).
The key area of focus for any new mum is posture – get the posture right and the muscles working together correctly and you can return safely to lots more activities; without this important work, you can be at greater risk of injury.
Fitting exercise in to your life after the arrival of your new baby can be a challenge – so, focus on fitting it in to your daily activities, make it fun and connect with the benefits to you.
Note the benefits to you – a few that are well recognised are:
- Improved mood and an increased sense of wellbeing
- Improved fitness – meeting the challenges of being a mum
- Increased energy
- Improved weight management
- Improved posture (benefiting both body and mind)
We’ll cover more exercises and training ideas in future articles; now our focus is on posture.
Focus on the position of your shoulders, engaging/activating your pelvic floor and your tummy:
Shoulders – make them as wide as possible and make the distance between your shoulders and ears as long as you can.
Pelvic floor – activate the pelvic floor by imagining you’re having a wee and then stop mid flow – hold that contraction.
Tummy – although the popular muscle to talk about is the ‘six pack’ [rectus abdominis (RA)] muscle, we need to use it with the very important transversus abdominis (TrA), or ‘natures girdle’ – you can activate them by ‘deflating’ your tummy as you exhale. The TrA works with the diaphragm, the pelvic floor and muscles in the back [multifidus] to support the spine and provide a safe foundation for all movements of the body.
These checkpoints (shoulders, pelvic floor & tummy) can all become part of your everyday life – remember you’re training the brain too. Do these at as many opportunities as you can through your day and you’ll strengthen them as well as training the brain to activate these muscles when you need them. Have trigger points – for example: when you walk through a doorway; waiting for the kettle to boil; standing in a queue; and when you’re changing a nappy – to remind you to go through these checkpoints to develop great posture.