Have you ever thought, or worried about ‘bouncing back’ after birth? What does that phrase even mean? Most women, myself included, were bouncing nowhere fast after the all-encompassing exhaustion and achievement of childbirth. The media is full of images and stories of women who were supposedly back in their skinny jeans mere weeks after giving birth, but we need to remember these examples rarely portray the whole truth. Don’t allow your confidence and self-esteem to lower by reading these articles, but instead focus on what your body has enabled you to accomplish in birthing your baby.

Weight loss is not a key indicator of health

Weight loss is not a key indicator of health

9 Months up / 9 months down (or longer)

Your body has made some incredible adaptations whilst your baby has been growing inside you. During pregnancy your uterus will be bigger than five times its original size with a capacity of 500 times more than before you conceived. Your abdominal muscles will stretch both widthways and lengthways to accommodate the growing uterus, and the linea alba (line running down the middle of the stomach muscles) can separate. Your lumbar spine curves to help support your growing abdomen and can lead to back ache and weakness. You will pump approximately 30% more blood volume round the body at full-term and require 20% more oxygen to accommodate the needs of the foetus.

The body adapts hugely to aid birth and these changes should be respected, allowing the body to get back to its previous shape and strength in a gradual and safe way. Weight loss is not a key indicator of health so should not be a primary goal in this journey. Allow your body the time it needs to heal and strengthen.

Being active is more important as a goal than weight loss

  • It is important to be active in the postnatal period as this can help with depression, but before starting higher intensity exercise you should ensure you have had your postnatal GP check-up.
  • In the early days, try and be active in your daily life - take the baby for a walk every day, get your heart rate up a little and blood flowing.
  • Do your pelvic floor and abdominal exercises to start to rebuild strength in those areas. A women’s health professional can help you get started.

When you are cleared for exercise

  • Don’t have weight loss as your primary goal. It is more motivating to have a fitness goal not based on aesthetics, for example, being able to run again or to lift a certain weight. These goals will keep you motivated longer, with better results.
  • Find a post-natal class that incorporates cardio and resistance training as these are both great for fat burn and fitness. Circuits are great also for weight loss
  • Get active daily with your friends - power walk round the park whilst chatting - and it won’t feel like a chore. Keep each other accountable and motivate each other to get results.

A specialised postnatal fitness instructor can help you target your goals to help with strength, fitness and ultimately weight loss. Visit www.mamawell.org for more details.  

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