When women get pregnant they want to continue with whatever exercise regime they have been doing up to that point. However, pregnancy puts limitations on what the body can and should do.
The major limitation is that the growing bump makes the heart work harder and faster making mums-to-be feel breathless and hot in a resting state. It is also not advisable to move quickly because the blood would be directed to the fast moving muscles and away from the baby.
What can you do that is safe and will keep you in shape?
- pelvic floor exercises,
- movements that help keep the posture in proper alignment and
- that open the hips in preparation for giving birth.
Pelvic floor exercises keep the pelvic floor toned and they can be done in any position (standing, sitting, lying down). Remember to inhale squeeze and exhale release.
Proper posture begins with the feet and strong arches. When standing, try lifting then spreading your toes and lowering each toe one by one starting with the pinky. Then do it the other way.
An easy and effective hip opener is child’s pose. Do it with the knees apart and bring your sit bones onto your heels. As the bump grows, place your forehead on your forearms or a block to lift you.
After the joy of having a baby, there is so much pressure on new mums in our society to get back to the life they had before baby. Having a pre-pregnancy body is at the top of that list.
The first 3 months after you have had a baby are called “the fourth trimester” because you are still closely connected to your baby and your baby is an extension of you. You continue to nurture and support your baby through your breast milk and the safest place for your baby to be is – literally – next to you. This is a very critical time during which your body needs to recover its strength from the demands of being pregnant and from giving birth. The body is still very fragile and vulnerable for some time after you’ve had a baby.
The best exercises to do at this stage are
- walking: have a friend join you or just take the baby in the buggy
- pelvic floor exercises: post natally squeeze on the exhale and release on the inhale.
After 6 weeks – or 8 weeks in the case of a caesarean – you can join a post natal yoga class unless your GP or health visitor recommend otherwise.
The yoga in a post natal yoga class is not so much asanas (poses) but movements that strengthen the abdominals and pelvic floor and realign the pelvis. For example, drawing in the belly to spine on the exhale helps to knit the abdominal muscles back together gently. Walking heel toe forwards and backwards helps to realign the pelvis.
There is also emphasis on movements that counteract the loving but shoulder hunching act of breastfeeding. By interlacing your hands behind your back, you automatically open the collar bones and bring the shoulder blades together.
By joining a pregnancy or a post natal yoga class, you will learn many more movements that will help to keep your body strong in a gentle but effective way. Namaste.
This is sponsored post by Libby Stevenson, Certified Pregnancy and Post Natal Yoga Teacher, Yoga Alliance Registered. Check her Weekly Post Natal Yoga classes at Evolve Wellness Centre, South Kensington, London.