Are you ready to hear the understatement of the year? Being a new mom is hard. Yes, I know, totally groundbreaking news. Not only did you spend 9 months making a person and going through all the physical changes that go along with that, but now you have to deal with recovering from labor, caring for a newborn, having little to no sleep, and other people expecting you to get back to you “pre-baby weight” (a totally inane number) as quickly as possible. The expectations are enough to make anybody want to pull their hair out and I refuse to be part of the problem here so this post is a little bit different from the usual “lose the baby weight” stuff you see plastered across the internet.
Here, I want to focus on your health. On feeling good, empowered, and not peeing yourself every time you sneeze (am I right, mommas?). Unfortunately, most trainers don’t have the knowledge they need to help moms specifically so here are some quick tips I can offer to start you off in the right direction once your doctor has cleared you to get back in the gym.
DO Glute Bridges
The Glute Bridge is a great exercise for rebuilding the strength of the pelvic floor and shaping your butt. You start by lying on your back, knees bent, with your feet flat on the ground. Then, you drive your hips up off the ground by squeezing through your butt. The end result will look like the picture above and will work your butt, hips, and core. You can also do some fun variations like single leg, feet-elevated, or band-resisted glute bridges to add to the challenge.
DON’T Do Sit Ups
It can be really tempting after pregnancy to want to work on your core with sit ups or crunches, but that is not be the best idea. After giving birth, many women are faced with Diastasis Recti, or the separation of the abdominal wall that can happen while pregnant. You know that little pouch of “fat” on your stomach that you can’t seem to get rid of since having kids? Yeah, that’s not fat, its a separation of your abs. Sit ups, crunches, and other traditional core exercises that involve bending can actually make this separation worse. Instead, I would recommend…..
Clamshells are a fantastic way to improve core, hip, and leg strength after pregnancy (or for anyone!). This is how it works: you lie on your side, knees slightly bent, and slowly lift your top knee toward the ceiling, keeping your feet together. You also put a resistance band around your legs above your knees for some added resistance. This one may seem simple, but if done right it really packs a punch!
The lack of readily available support out there for moms, new and old, is disheartening, but I hope that this quick overview can give you some guidance on what to focus on and avoid while getting back into exercise. Have any questions? Comments about exercises that worked great for you post-baby? Leave a comment and let me know!