Trying to be the best that I could…

At the ripe old age of 56 years old and working with pre and post natal Moms, I wish that I could have had more knowledge when I was a new Mom trying to be the best I could! I didn’t have any real support other than what my Mum did in the 60’s or my Grandmother did in the 30’s and being in South Africa when they were in the UK was even harder without internet and Skype – can you even get your head around that thought?

A memory comes to mind of when I had my second baby and was trying to breastfeed successfully after struggling with my first and at my lowest point with cracked nipples that were drenched in gentian violet as well as encased with frozen cabbage leaves (due to mastitis), thinking: “so this is what it all boils down to – purple tits stinking of rotten cabbage, a screaming hungry newborn baby and a hyper two year old running around demanding attention!!!”

But hey the good news is that we have all been there and it does become a distant memory that makes you smile, but knowledge is still power so let’s share some of it today.

In my last blog I spoke about the 4th trimester and the hormone Relaxin and how it is still present in your system for 16 weeks or longer if you are breastfeeding, making your CORE unstable, so you need to consider what exercises you are going to do as you start to make efforts to regain and take control of your body, because if you have a bad back and trying to look after a new baby -that is not a great situation to find yourself in!

So what knowledge is going to help a new Mom?

While you are pregnant there are many changes happening in the body, especially with your posture (increased curves in both the lower back and upper back). Some of the muscle groups will have become too tight, while other muscle groups have weakened. The other thing to consider is that all the insertion areas of the abdominals take strain so the areas that need releasing are around the borders of the diaphragm, the ribcage, pelvic borders as well as the thighs. To fully recover from pregnancy, and develop a body that not only looks good, but feel great and functions well, you need to address all of these changes.

Stretch & Strengthen

You need to stretch the hip flexors, lower back, thighs, chest, shoulders and back of the neck whilst at the same time strengthen the pelvic floor, upper back, shoulder rotators, buttocks and of course the abdominal wall. On top of all this you also need to release the stressed and strained areas to be able to stand correctly and maintain good posture. The tummy is not just weakened after pregnancy, it is also elongated, which is a condition known as laxity and is why the stomach feels like jelly and droops immediately after child birth. I remember being horrified when I first looked at my own tummy after my first baby, especially being a gym instructor and exercising (probably incorrectly due to lack of knowledge). I thought it would stay like that and never go back, but the good news (before you freak out), is that this is temporary and due to lack of tone, with some effort and understanding you CAN get a flat tummy again.

Ok so you have had your baby and now want to work on those abs and thinking about doing sit ups and crunches to get back into shape, but do you know that actually this will only make your tummy look bigger! What!? Fitness and exercise after pregnancy is a lot more complicated than that. You need to go back to basics and strengthen your core and pelvic floor by working from the inside out – like a microwave!

The first layer of muscles to work is the TVA (transverse abdominus) – this is your building block or foundation to a flat tummy and stronger core, as it is the deepest layer of muscle that is responsible for abdominal compression. If you want to start exercising – go for a walk with baby and just do pelvic tilts, diaphragmic breathing and work on your posture. Please share this with your friends and see you soon!

Yours in health, Denise

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