As a new mum, you’ve been through many physical and emotional changes. Here follows a simple guide about postnatal fitness & nutrition; to inspire you to get strong and balanced.
Considering all the physical- and emotional changes your own body has been through, it will need time to heal and recover. Postpartum period can be considered even up to 12 months, but at the same time, we will always be postpartum being a mum.
While the recovery process is individual from woman to woman, depending on your fitness during pregnancy and so on; there are general guidelines.
The benefits of having a workout routine postnatal, can help you not only to get in shape (and lose weight if desired), but also:
- Lay the foundations for a strong, fit & Energized body
- Improve your posture
- Strengthen your core and pelvic floor
- Alleviate back pain
To achieve the above benefits and become an Energized mum, it’s important to do the right type of training, that the body actually needs. Walking is great and should be part of it, but ideally, you should also focus on bodyweight exercises and strength training.
When is A Good Time to Get Started?
The current guidelines recommended that it is safe to return to physical activity six weeks after having given birth. There are however many different variables to consider. Such as how active you were prior to- and during pregnancy and how the delivery was.
Please speak to your OB-GYN Doctor, health care provider, to ensure you have clearance and welcome to consult with me as well.
The first priority
First thing first. To start with focused breathing and establish contact with the pelvic floor is something that can be done, and is ideally, started as soon as possible after childbirth.
Likewise to start gentle walking 10 minutes per day, as energy and health allows. Even after a C-section, this is equally important.
This will set you up for a strong, fit and well functioning body, which is foundational for getting in shape as well.
First thing first meaning:
- Start with breathing and establish contact with your pelvic floor and deep abdominals.
- Focus on your posture, alignment and a neutral position.
When you breath properly and align the rib cage over the pelvis in a neutral position, you’ll be able to get proper abdominal contraction and compression to close an eventual Diastasis Recti, or separation of the abdominals. Which if not closed, and if the deep abdominals aren’t strong, can cause the “mummy tummy” or tummy looking pregnant.
- First 6 weeks: focus on re-establish breathing pattern, and pelvic floor- and core connection. After 2 weeks gentle stretching and bodyweight exercises may be included.
- Week 7- 4 months: start gentle strength training; continue recovery of the pelvic floor, optimal breathing pattern and foundational strength. Improve aerobic fitness gently.
- 5-11 months: if you’ve been training as above, you should now be strong, well functioning, stable and supported through your pelvis and core. Ready for more intensity and activity. At 6 months earliest, jogging and jumping can be introduced, as long as the body is ready for it. See below for more details!
What you should start with
After a pregnancy it’s normal to be slightly out of alignment. Depending on how your exercise routine was during the pregnancy, this might be more or less.
But also considering all various positions we can be in when we feed our baby, it’s important to establish a good alignment in order to build strength, balance and stability. This will also be helpful and needed in workouts, healing process and to avoid pain in the body from muscle imbalances and tight muscles.
Focus on your posture postnatal to:
- Establish contact with the pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles. This will make you strong from the inside out, enhance your posture and flatten your abdominals.
- Strengthen you glutes to help to support and balance the pelvis. But also for the aesthetics!
- Strengthen the back and stretch out the chest. You’ll not only look better, but you’ll feel better!
- Stretch out the hip flexor muscles.
Examples of exercises to do initially
When you’ve got clearance from your health care provider, about 6 weeks postnatal, you may start a gentle circuit 1-2/day as your energy level permits.
The circuit may include exercises like hip flexor stretch, glute bridge, chest stretch, clam, seated band row and box squat.
What if you are many months postnatal?
If you didn’t yet do any training and you are many months postnatal, where should you start? I do still recommend you to start with re-establishing your breathing patterns, and pelvic floor connection together with the deep abdominals.
When and how to start jogging
One of my own struggles as a new mum is to stay patient! Even though strength training is what I prioritize, I also love running and cannot wait to get back to it postnatal.
But, it’s important to stay patient in this matter, while building a strong foundational strength in the body before you start jumping or running!
Before you start jogging (and not earlier than approximately 6 months) it’s important to:
- Have done regular strength training for a good amount of time.
- Feel strong and confident in the body.
- Have control over the core and moving correctly in rotations and as you bend forward.
- Ensure that an eventual separations of abdominals, diastas recti has healed.
- Not have any urine leakage or pelvic organ prolapse.
- Not have any pelvic pain.
- Not have any pain in your knees.
To have food prepared is one of the best advices!
As a new mum, being sleep deprived, busy and starving (if you’re like me) from breastfeeding; it’s important to have healthy food options handy. Ask help if possible.
Recovery postnatal is about rest, but also about eating to nourish youself in order to not only heal and speed up the healing process, but also to strengthen yourself, have good milk supply and also for weight management.
Postnatal nutrition plays an important role in recovery and health.
Here follows my nutrition tips:
- Water: important in order to avoid constipation and to minimize stress on the pelvic floor and the increased risk of hemorrhoid. Drink at least 1,5- 2 lites per day.
- Protein: for example turkey, chicken, beef, salmon, eggs and cottage cheese. Building blocks and a necessary nutrient for building and maintaining muscle mass. Very important for fat loss as well.
- Fruits and vegetables: rich in fiber, packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Can improve overall health and reduce inflammation.
- Healthy fats: nuts, seeds, olives, avocado, coconut, fatty fish, butter and yoghurt. Healthy fats are important for blood sugar balance and to reduce cravings for example. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to decrease inflammation and improve immune functioning.
- Foods high in fiber: such as beans, fruits, nuts and seeds.
- Whole-Food carbohydrates: brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes, whole wheat pasta and root vegetables.
To ensure a healthy weight, for fat loss if that’s desired, it’s needed to monitor portion sizes. This can easily be done only by using your hand. Read more here to lean more about portion awareness.
- Cold oats pancakes
- Halal deli trays with meat, cheese, veggies, fruits etc.
- Hummus with veggies
- Natural nuts
- Hard boiled eggs
- Pre-packed smoothie ingredients (like spinach, banana and strawberries) in freezer bags
- Whole wheat pasta salad
The Postnatal Muslimah program- designed to make you strong and balanced
When I became a mum myself for the first time, I felt very lonely and slightly overwhelmed, to be really honest with you. Thanks to my lifestyle, education and experience however, I knew the importance of getting back to good health, both physically and mentally. So I started to workout.
But, if I felt like I did, what about other sisters?
Therefore, I created the Postnatal Muslimah program, to help you get strong and balanced as a new mum! Click the link to read more about the program, which includes both nutritional coaching as well as training.
The image above is me 9 months pregnant and 4 weeks postnatal after my last baby by the way.