Beyond Your Bump: Postnatal Pilates DVD

Having a new born baby is hard work. Amongst the nappy changes, feeds, lack of sleep and recovering from the birth itself, there can be little time to think about exercise! The demands of pregnancy and then the energies of labour put  a great stress on your body and it needs time to recover and heal. So you may not feel like rushing straight back into exercise and that is understandable. However your body also needs the strength to carry, feed and lift without causing aches, pains and issues later down the line.

Pilates is the perfect compromise with this. It is exercise that can be started soon after birth but won’t feel too strenuous. Being able to do just 10 minutes a day will make such a difference to your body. Getting to a class can be stressful with a baby. Help is at hand. We run postnatal classes with a creche provided. Or our “Beyond Your Bump” DVD means you get the experience and benefit of a postnatal class devised by a Pilates specialist, ready to do in your home around your baby.

Postnatal Pilates DVD "Beyond your bump"

This is an hour long DVD in several sections that will:

  • Strengthen your abdominals.
  • Targets your bum, legs and tum.
  • Help with any pelvis pain.
  • Work your pelvic floor in a functional manner.
  • Correct upper body posture.


My little ones have always loved sitting in a bouncy chair watching me do exercise – why not see if yours does too!

Why is Pilates so essential for new mums?

Pilates is still quite a new form of exercise in the UK.  It was developed by Joseph Pilates, a German-born gymnast, circus-performer and boxer  during the 1920’s.  He named his method “Contrology” and it was designed to rehabilitate soldiers during the war.  Later, it became popular amongst ballet dancers, then went mainstream, where now it’s suitable for just about everyone and is used by many atheletes as well as the general public.

Pilates is all about your “core” muscles, but what is that?  The “core” is made up of several muscles which wrap around your spine – a bit like a cylinder.  These are muscles at the front of your body (transverses abdominus/hip flexors), side (obliques), back (multifidis), top (diaphragm) and base (pelvic floor).

To find your core muscles, you just need to tighten/pull/draw your abdominal muscles in slightly.  Start by breathing into your belly first, then as you breath out, draw your tummy muscles in towards your spine and keeping that light tension switched on.  These muscles are slow to contract and slow to fatigue, so it means you should be able to hold your tummy muscles inwards with a low level of contraction, for a minute or two, then  move an arm or a leg, or the spine, to create an unstable environment and therefore provide a challenge for the muscles.

Postnatal Posture
Pilates helps correct postnatal postural issues and targets the correct muscles.


Pilates is particularly beneficial for postnatal women (trust me I have had 2 babies and used Pilates to help me), because it targets the very muscles which get weakened by pregnancy itself eg the pelvic floor and core.  It also helps you breathe better, puts your body in an optimal postural position and relieves tension in your neck, shoulders, hips and lower back from constant lifting, carrying, feeding and changing your baby. Without it you are likely to end up with all kind of aches and pains. Think about those lower back aches, those niggles in your hips, that shoulder and neck tension – Pilates can help with all of that and help relax you too. Win Win.

Top Tips for C section Recovery.

  Around 25% of all births in the UK were delivered by section (2008). Some women have no choice and have to have a section, for others it’s an emergency procedure and for some it’s a choice. However it happens, recovery is different to a natural birth.

What is a c-section?

It’s an incision made horizontally, just above your pubic line.  Most people think the abdominal muscles are cut (I did until I researched it!) however they aren’t. It’s the outer coating of the muscle, and the connective tissue in between the 6-pack (rectua abdominis) muscles that is cut.  The incision is made on the outside of your body horizontally, and then your Linea Alba is puled apart (vertically) to gain access.  The Linea Alba runs vertically down your stomach, and separates your six pack muscles in half, above and below your belly button.  The outside incision is then sutured back together, but the inside tissue is not.

 What about my core and pelvic floor?

If you elect to have a section, there’s a misconception that your pelvic floor will be fine.  You might think that because your body won’t be going through the stages of labour and pushing out a baby, your pelvic floor won’t be affected.  This is where you’re WRONG!  Pregnancy itself puts tremendous pressure on your pelvic floor, as the weight of your developing baby gets bigger and bigger, and therefore weakens these muscles.  So, it’s still very important that you strengthen your core, pelvic floor and legs/bum muscles during and after pregnancy, even if you elected to have a section. You also want to protect and help your pelvis remain strong so Pilates style exercises are essential to help with this

 When can I return to exercise after a c-section?

A c-section is major surgery, so think about how muhc recover time you would need after abdominal surgery for example, you wouldnt’ go rushing back too soon would you. Make sure you have had your postnatal check up before your return to exercise, which, depending on your Doctor’s Practice/Surgery could be 6 weeks -10 weeks. Your midwife will also keep checking you and any questions should be directed to them.   I believe postnatal women should return to exercise following a c-section, after medical clearance and when they feel ready.  It’s major surgery after all, and your body will need time to heal. Whenever you return to exercise you will need to build it up, don’t go straight back to the levle of exercise you used to do 😉

 What is recovery like after a c-section?

After a c-section, your recover time is longer than a natural birth, you may have a loss of sensation, a numbness in your abdominals especially around the scar area, and the scar tissue itself may reduce your ability to do certain movements completely pain-free.  Your pelvic floor may take a little while to activate consciously too, but keep sending the signal from your brain to these muscles, and eventually, it will switch back on, I promise.


What exercise is safe after a c-section?

Postnatal-specific Pilates-based or core exercise is probably THE best form of exercise for any new mum to be doing, regardless of the type delivery.  Pelvic floor and core activation work makes up the main focus of any postnatal recovery program if you’ve had your baby via section.  I always perform a “Rec Check” to see if a separation is still existent in my clients abdominals, and  our classes and DVD then use re-activation and re-education exercises to the pelvic floor and abdominals to help the muscles return to their original strength and fire properly. We also work on strengthening the thighs and bum as the pelvis is often still fragile and needs supporting. Correcting your posture is also key, you wouldn’t thik it but bad posture such as hunched shoulders can affect your “mummy tummy” area from becoming strong, toned and functioning properly.

Unfortunately, there is no quick-fix cure for strengthening the abdominals following a section.  It can take months of training, careful instruction and lots of homework.  If your abdominals aren’t assessed and addressed early following the correct procedures and using the correct techniques, then they may stay in a weakened state for the rest of your life, which can lead to poor posture, pelvic discomfort and lower back pain.  The good news though, with the right assessment, instruction and homework, it is fixable.

Our “Beyond Your Bump” DVD will give you exercises and advice to help with your recovery postnatally.

Top Tips for getting through the first 3 months with baby.

Having a baby is a massive change and a massive strain physically, emotionally and mentally! It’s so completely worth it but it really is one of those times in life when you need as much help as you can get.

Bump to Birth Pilates: Survivig the first 3 months.

Having had 2 babies now I thought I would share my top tips for surviving those first few months:

  • Stock up your freezer before you give birth with healthy, nutritious meals, so you don’t have to worry about cooking every day. Use online shopping – it means you can shop when you want and have it delivered.
  • Buy in easy to make and eat snacks and foods – for example items to make sandwiches with, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, nut butters, eggs, baked beans, tuna, ham, cheese, cereal.
  • If friends offer to help ask them to prepare you a meal or come and help by hanging out the washing or holding baby whilst you sleep.
  • Nap when the baby naps – this can be hard to do as there is so much else to catch up on but sleep really is important.
  • Get out and get some fresh air daily, even if its just a 10 minute walk, it will boost your mood and keep you active. When you are ready try a postnatal exercise class or DVD like our one here.
  • Make sure you don’t skip meals and that you drink plenty of fluids. Include wholegrain starchy carbohydrate and plenty of fruit on vegetables in your diet as well as protein. You need to keep your energy levels up.
  • Try and get in tune with your baby and their needs. Usually they will form their own little routine of eating, being awake and active then sleeping. Along with nappy changes of course!
  • Try not to fit too much into a day. It can overstimulate baby and tire you out too! Not a great combination.
  • Remember to look after YOU – find some time for something to do without baby each week.

I hope that gives you some tips. Being a mum is the best and the hardest job 🙂

How to pick up your baby with perfect posture.

Having a new baby means you really don’t spend much time thinking about yourself. It’s all about looking after that new precious bundle of love. Whilst that is so, so important it can mean that things like your posture quickly slip and a few months down the line you end up with back, neck or shoulder issues. One of the key things that can go wrong is lifting baby from the floor. It’s something that mums do all the time so important to get right. Here I demonstrate 2 ways to safely pick up your baby, using my baby as an example.

Postnatal Hair Loss, how to look after those locks.

One of the lovely side effects I had during pregnancy was to have thicker, faster growing hair. My hairdresser was always amazed when she saw me yet again for a trim.

This extra hair growth that some ladies see is due to the hormone levels, specifically the oestrogen. Hair has a cycle of growth and loss. Usually we lose about 100 hairs a day, however in pregnancy this hair loss can be reduced giving you those extra lush locks. All good things must come to an end however and as the oestrogen levels drop so must the extra hair. It is not uncommon for clumps or handfuls of hair to come out when you are brushing or washing it. So do not panic! Your hair will go back to how it was pre-pregnancy, you will not be bald (phew).

For some mums this will happen from birth and for others it will be when breastfeeding stops.

Pilates with Priya: postnatal hair loss

Top Tips:
1. Be kind to your hair, don’t was it excessively (as if you have time to with a baby!) and be gentle when styling it.
2. Try to stay away from hair dryers and straighteners, chemicals and treatments for a while.
3. Take a postnatal vitamins and eat a healthy balanced diet. Essential fatty acids are needed for hair to grow strong and healthy so no low fat diets.
4. Talk to your health visitor or GP is you feel the hair loss is excessive as it could be a sign something else is not quite right.

Losing the Baby Weight Week 6: my first training session.

So I’ve reached the 6 week post baby place. This is usually when you get an appointment with your GP and hopefully are given the green light to exercise. In my GP surgery the 6 week check is carried out at 8 weeks. Fortunately as a specialist in the antenatal and postnatal fitness arena I know what exercise is safe to do at this stage, so this weekend I made a start. I’d love to go for a run and do some high impact work, but I’m very aware that my core is not as strong as I’d like it to be yet and my pelvic floor is still regaining strength. Also Relaxin is still in my system making my joints prone to overstretching. So I’m being patient and holding back. Doing high impact activites such as running, jumping, aerobics can put extra strain on your pelvic floor and joints. So my thoughts and advice are to take it easy and go for low impact options after birth until you have regained some core strength first, this is like your foundation for all other exercise.  My Exercise this week: I’m doing some Pilates pretty much everyday. Just 15 minutes is really making a difference and I am now so much stronger than I was. I’m loving 1/2 roll ups, swimming in hands and knees and shoulder bridges with knee folds. I’ve even done a bit of Pilates with baby asleep in the sling 😉 Hard work indeed!

Pilates with Priya: Pilates with a Sling

At the weekend I did my first weights session. I focused on squats, lunges, chest presses, shoulder rows and modified press ups. My toddler joined me with her imaginery weights and baby kicked along to the music on his playmat. Exercising with children can be done! It was nice to feel my muscles the next day! Walking is key for me too, I’m making sure I get a walk in 3 time a week, usually this is with baby in the sling or pushing the baby and toddler in the buggy – both make for a good workout 🙂

Losing the Baby Weight, Week 1.

It’s day 7 post birth and slowly my body feels like it is returning to normal. My mummy tummy is shrinking gradually and the after birth pains are definitely diminishing. For me these after birth pains have been the worst thing. I didn’t have them with baby number 1, but everytime I feed it feels like another contractions. This is due to my uterus contracting and everything shrinking back to normal so it’s a good thing, but I’m not enjoying it!

Bump to Birth Pilates: Day 2 Post-Birth
Bump to Birth Pilates: Day 2 Post-Birth

Having a toddler means little time to rest so I’m quite active around the house. I’ve already learnt that I can’t lift my toddler, it’s too much for my back and lifting her led to some twinges (yikes) so I’m steering clear of heavy lifting for a while.

So what exercises have I been doing?

Pelvic floor exercises or kegels. I’ve been trying to do these everytime I feed the baby. If you aren’t sure where these are they are the muscles that now don’t work very well  😉 Imagine you are doing a wee and try to stop the flow of urine, it’s those muscles. Try doing some fast contractions where you squeeze the muscles all the way up and then release – imagine a lift going up inside you. Then also do some slow contractions where you slowly take the lift up, hold at the top for 5 seconds and slowly release. You really want to strengthen these muscle as otherwise there will be problems when you cough, laugh, sneeze, jump…. you get the picture!

TVA or core activation. Think about drawing in the muscles below your belly button. There is a belt-like muscle that comes all the way around your body like a corset. Try not to scoop in all your tummy but just tighten up the lower tummy muscles. It may help to place your fingers just inside your hip bones, then cough. Did you feel something tighten? That’s the muscle.

Rest time is also essential though personally this is the bit I find hardest to fit in as I seem to have babies that require a lot of feeding! Try to rest when the baby is napping and remember you don’t have to be superwoman at this point in life. If you have a slightly “messy round the edges house” no-one will mind 😉 Plus if you do too much you can affect your milk supply, so be kind to yourself.

The Stout truth about Iron in Pregnancy

Iron-deficiency anaemia. It’s not much fun, especially when you are pregnant. Unfortunately it’s also not unsual, and many have it in the third trimester. I was anaemia with in y first pregnancy, the sheer horridness of the iron tablets has sent me scuttling for the green leafy vegetables this pregnancy. What I’ve discovered working with pregnant ladies is how little sensible advice is given on this topic, so here is some from me 😉

Top Foods to eat for Iron content:

  • Red meat (beef, lamb, pork)
  • Egg yolks
  • Dark green leafy vegetables – spinach, swiss chard, watercress, curly kale.
  • Dried fruit – prunes, raisins, figs, apricots.
  • Breakfast cereals that are enriched with Iron.
  • Beans, lentils, chickpeas and other pulses.
  • Sardines
  • Tofu

Top Tips:

  1. If you eat iron-rich foods along with foods that provide plenty of vitamin C, your body can better absorb the iron.
  2. Phytates : Oxalates in spinach and phytates found in wholegrains, brans and legumes (soy beans, split peas, lentils and dried beans) inhibit the absorption of iron
  3. Tannin: Avoid drinking tea, coffee & cola drinks withmeals as they decrease the amount of iron absorbed.

The Myth: In 1759 Arthur Guinness first began to brew his famous Irish stout, over the years a lot of clever marketing went on and a few myths were created. As much as I’d like to encourage pregnant ladies to have a little stout now and again I’m afraid the iron content really isn’t worth writing home about. A pint of Guinness contains 0.3mg of iron, less than three per cent of daily adult needs. That means, you’d need to drink 15 pints of Guinness to get the same amount of iron as two Weetabix. So ladies, stay away from the Guiness, it will not help with anaemia. Sorry.   guinness is good for you Supplements: If you feel your iron levels are low (common symptoms include tiredness, looking pale and feeling washed out) then ask your midwife or GP to check your iron levels via a blood test. There are iron tablets that can be prescribed or you can increase your intake of iron containing foods, or look for a natural supplement like Spatone. I hope that helps! Pregnancy is a tiring time anyway, so it can be hard to tell if you have low iron levels, but it’s always worth keeping your iron topped up through plenty of iron rich foods just in case.

My Top 3 Pilates Exercises for Pregnancy.

I’m a huge fan of Pilates during pregnancy, it really kept me strong, active and held my pelvis together throughout 2 pregnancies. In fact in my second pregnancy when I was teaching 11 Pilates classes a week and doing Pilates daily I had no lower back pain or pelvic pain. It  really does work!

So here are my top 3 Pilates exercises to do in pregnancy. These were filmed when I was 34 weeks pregnancy myself and are safe to do throughout all 3 trimesters of pregnancy and after birth too.



You can buy my “Bump to Birth” Pilates in Pregnancy DVD here.