This is an extract from my book How to afford time off with your baby – 101 ways to ease the financial strain (Vermilion 2009)
Exercise is important not only for getting you back into your normal size clothes but also for feeling strong, awake and upbeat. Your body may never be quite the same after childbirth and breastfeeding but you are probably aiming for a body that’s toned and trim, healthy and fit.
Don’t start exercising straight after giving birth. We are all individuals and have different birth experiences and bodies. Talk to your doctor or health visitor before you begin exercising and find out how much/what you should do at first.
Claire Mockridge owns Zest health and fitness a successful, specialist ante- and postnatal exercise company. She is a qualified ante/postnatal fitness instructor and member of The Guild of Pregnancy and Postnatal Instructors. With regard to new mothers and exercise, she states:
It is vitally important for new mums not to return to exercise too soon after having had their baby. As a guide, women should wait six weeks after a natural birth and 10 weeks following a C-section. New mums should also attend an exercise class run by a trained postnatal instructor to ensure that the exercises they are performing are safe and effective. Attending a mainstream aerobics or body conditioning class could potentially injure your joints, do irreversible damage to your abdominals/pelvic floor and generally be very uncomfortable on the breasts.
Claire runs specialist Mummies and buggies classes in Nottingham for mums and their babies to exercise together, buggy-jogging around the park alongside other a host of pre and post pregnancy workouts. Such classes are a great idea to help new mums get fit safely, avoids the use of a babysitter and helps local mums to meet up.
It is easy to imagine you will run around a lot keeping up with a toddler, but with a baby it’s just not going to happen unless you make it…they don’t move that much. Classes are a good way to go. You could ask for them as a Christmas gift or a use a bit of baby money – after all a happy mum makes a happy baby. If you simply can’t afford classes or are highly self-motivated, a regular morning jog or power walk around the park with your buggy is just the ticket. Exercise, like sex and chocolate, releases endorphins and these chemicals can help stave off the baby blues and help calm rampaging hormones, so make sure you get your free fix.
To gym or not to gym?
If you’re a gym addict, then later on when your body is more back to normal you may want to think about rejoining the gym. But with crèche costs to find too, the
gym is one luxury that may need to fall by the way side, for now at least.
Enjoy the freedom
Jogging, cycling, power walking, pram racing and roller blading are all pretty much free activities once you have the basic equipment. Regular exercise makes you look and feel fantastic, so investigate how you can build some in to your normal week. If you can get someone to give you a break just three times a week for about 20–40 minutes you could be fit and glowing in no time, and it won’t have cost you a penny. Good times to nip out for a fast walk or run could be early evening when dad comes home from work, just let him have a coffee or a sit down first. You could be more flexible though and just take the opportunity to go for it when your neighbour/mum/friend pops over for a baby cuddle. Don’t do this every time they pop over though or they may well get a bit fed up!
Workout with Davina
Another option is to pick up an exercise DVD for about 50p from a car boot or borrow one from the library and do it while your baby is in bed – that way you don’t even need a sitter. You can be your own personal trainer if you’re keen enough.
Exercising with a friend is fun too and can keep you motivated. Could you pal up with another mum? My good friend Helen goes power walking with her mum friends now their toddlers are at preschool and they find it maintains their friendships and their figures for free.
Whatever you do try and keep it fun, regular and focused on a gradual (not frenzied) return to fitness.