As gyms up and down the country open up again, you may also be thinking about kickstarting your postnatal fitness recovery. We caught up with Jemimah Williams-Rumble, expert in pre and postnatal fitness, ahead of the launch of FLEX Chelsea’s new Hot Mama fitness program.
Congratulations! You’ve brought a new life into the world and you and your amazing body should be applauded and celebrated. Far from encouraging women to ‘snap back’ into their pre-pregnancy bodies (whatever that actually means), FLEX Chelsea’s new Hot Mama postnatal program is all about making sure you take care of your post-birth body.
Built around a safe and structured fitness plan, Hot Mama is split into three stages working on essential post-birth exercises at each stage of your postnatal recovery. We caught up with FLEX’s pre and postnatal fitness expert, Jemimah Williams-Rumble, for some top tips on how to kickstart your postnatal recovery.
Before you rush to that treadmill or reach for those weights, these are the steps you should be following to ease yourself back into your fitness routine. You should also consult your GP or midwife before your start your new exercise program.
Focus on Your Breathing
Focus on the connection between your breath, pelvic floor and core. We often think of your core as just your abs, but it’s SO much more than that, with your pelvic floor forming the base of this group of muscles. To really feel this connection, use this deep breathing exercise:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet up close to your bum, hip width apart. Try to keep your lower back pressing into the floor for the entire time to really activate the transverse abdominal muscle (the deepest layer of your abdominal wall).
- Place your hands on your hips so that your thumbs and index finger make a little triangle.
- Begin to take long, deep breaths, counting 3 to 4 seconds for each. As you exhale, imagine your hip bones are trying to reach towards the ribs by tilting the pelvis towards the ceiling, feeling the lower back press down into the floor and the upper legs slightly raising off the floor. You should be able to see your triangle that you made with the fingers more clearly. As you exhale, try to lift the pelvic floor, drawing up through the middle of the muscles. Imagine your pelvic floor is a lift and you’re taking it right to the penthouse of the building.
- As you inhale, return to your starting position by rolling the pelvis back down and letting the pelvic floor relax. Sticking with the lift image- when you feel like you’ve got to the ground floor, consciously relax again to take it to the basement.
These breathing techniques are incorporated from the very beginning of the Hot Mama program. Core Restore is the first stage, and recommended from six weeks to three months postpartum. A 50/50 blend of abdominal work and spine and hip mobility, the class is predominantly mat-based and focussed on rehab for the body.
Work on Thoracic Mobility
Make mobility in your thoracic (upper) spine a priority- you’ve been carrying the bump around for months, which naturally will pull your chest a little tighter and stop you from being able to rotate much in the upper spine. Try to spend a little time each day adding in some thoracic mobility to ease any aches and pains between the shoulders and chest.
For a really amazing thoracic mobility exercise to try is this:
- Start on all fours, with knees together and heels wide to support the lower back. Place your right hand on the back of your neck so that the arm forms a triangle.
- As you exhale, twist the right elbow up to the sky and allow the eyeline to follow, keeping the left shoulder over the left hand.
- Inhale, and try to tuck the right elbow as close to the left elbow as possible
- Repeat 6-12 reps of this on each side.
As you approach three to six months postpartum, it may be time to bring weights, slowly but surely, back into your routine. Deep core strength is still a focus at stage 2 of the Hot Mama classes, but be ready to include light kettlebells to condition the glutes, as well as building strength in the back.
Don’t run Before you can Walk
Don’t run before you can walk! You might be eager to get back to running post-pregnancy, but take it slow! Try to incorporate some strength training, with single leg movements such as lunges and single leg deadlifts to build leg and core strength. Incorporating movements like this into your training will help you develop the strength needed to get into running again, and also avoid any issues in the hips and unnecessary injury that could have you out for a lot longer.
From around six months the Hot Mama program will build on the progress you made in stage two and you’ll begin to work up more of a sweat in these conditioning classes.
Be Kind to Yourself
Most importantly, be kind to yourself. You’ve just grown a whole person and, whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, you’re now responsible for keeping them alive. If you’re navigating motherhood for the first time, finding time to workout can be really difficult, but everyone is in the same boat.
Don’t compare yourself to other mums you know, or to the mums you see in the media- everyone has their own journey and timeline, so why would post-natal fitness be any different? So, if you can’t quite finish that workout because baby is being needy, don’t worry- that part of the workout you did will benefit you more than not starting it. Enjoy this time, and maybe get a quick stretch in at nap time.
Hot Mama is on a mission to make you feel like the best version of you, but to ensure you’re not putting you or your little one at risk you should get sign off from your doctor before booking into any of the classes. Oh, and yes, you can BYOB (Bring Your Own Baby)…
Check out Hot Mama for more about the tailored pre and postnatal exercise plan at FLEX Chelsea. Individual classes are £22 a session, introductory 2 for 1 offer available now.
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