What postnatal pilates can do for you.

When you are pregnant there is a lot of focus on keeping your body healthy, looking after yourself and putting you first. There is a lot more time to focus on exercising well, cooking good meals and thinking in general. The midwife and friends/family are asking how your body feels, how is the bump, what aches and pains do you have and giving plenty of advice. Then the delicious baby arrives and is totally the centre of attention. Your life is suddenly a whirlwind of feeds, sleepless nights, surviving as best you can. There is little time and energy left for exercise. Cake and chocolate can be relied to get you through the day or are part of a treat at playgroups. No-one really asks how your body is feeling or what they can do to help YOU, it is more about the baby.

The problem is that when you are postnatal your body is pretty vulnerable. It has been stretched, carried a heavy weight around and then birthed a baby. Now if you had a major operation you would lie in bed, rest, recover, have meals brought to you and be looked after for a few weeks. This is really what you need after having given birth. Instead you have a little person dependant on you, you cannot rest as much as you need and you cannot listen to your body.

Postnatal Pilates: why all mums need it

As a pre/postnatal specialist Pilates teacher this is an area I focus on and love to teach.

Postnatal Issues Pilates can help with:

POSTURE:
It is hard to maintain good posture when you are sitting up feeding, especially at night. However without good posture, those aches and pains slip in. Muscles get tight in the wrong places which can cause restrictions in your movement and cause you to compensate.

Over time poor posture can cause long term pain throughout the body, so it’s not something you want to ignore. Postnatal pilates when run by a specialised teacher will put in exercises to strengthen your upper back, talk through shoulder placement with you and use functional exercises to help with those motherhood moves that you do daily.

Sitting more will also lead to tighter hamstrings, so these need to be stretched out regularly.

The key really is to find out which part of your posture you need to focus on and which muscles need releasing. A good class and teacher will highlight this to you.

FLEXIBILITY:
There can be a lot of hormones flying around. Relaxin is a hormone that can affect the laxity of your ligaments, so this can leave you vulnerable to overstretching and potentially pulling a ligament. Learning to work within the normal range of movement for your body is the key here and not pushing yourself too hard, too soon.

PELVIC FLOOR:
Having carried a baby around your pelvic floor has taken a lot of strain. If you have then pushed baby out then that is even more damage that will have occured to the pelvic floor. Pilates will help you strengthen the whole of your core, including your pelvic floor. If you need more help in this area then check out  “Pimp Your Pelvic Floor”

ABDOMINAL SEPARATION:
Many ladies suffer from Diastasis Recti, this is a condition that is common in pregnancy and nothing to be concerned about as long as it is fixed postnatally! For some, the abdominals will naturally heal up by themselves, for others it will take more work. Exercises such as curls ups, planks and sitting up from lying on your back are not suitable and can make matters worse. A specialist pilates teacher with postnatal training will be able to help you.

PELVIC GIRDLE PAIN:
If you suffered from this in pregnancy then the likelikood is that it will disappear once baby comes along. However it is always a good idea to do some strenghtening work postnatally. If your hips and pelvis were struggling in pregnancy then some TLC for them can make all the difference in the long term.

LOWER BACK PAIN:
One of the common complaints I see in mums. Those babies get heavy when you are carrying them around a lot. Having a strong core and good posture when you lift and carry is so important. Pilates will help train your body so you are stronger and more able to manage this. The release exercises will also help mobilise and decrease any pain.

If you aren’t local to me, then check out my Postnatal Pilates DVD.

How to Exercise with Your Baby!

Life changes dramatically after your have a baby. Everyone told me this before I had baby 1 but I didn’t really believe it until it happened. Suddenly I went from someone who could spend long periods of time in the gym and go for a run whenever I wanted… to someone who had a baby who fed for 14 hours a day, someone who was living off a few hours sleep, someone who had a small person dependant on them.

Yet I can tell you I still managed to fit in exercise. Even after baby 2 when I had even less sleep and even less time. I wouldn’t say I’m a fitness addict or a superstar mum. I’m just someone who knows that exercise: 1) Boosts my endorphin levels so makes me feel good, 2) Gives me more energy, 3) Helps me tone up and get back in shape.

This is how I fit exercise in…

  • Walks with the pram. With my first baby I regularly went out for an afternoon walk to help her sleep and to get myself some exercise and fresh air. With my second baby I combine with with a trip to the park to wear out the toddler!
  • Running with the pram. I did this alot with my first baby, she loved it and still does at 3 1/2 years “Mummy go faster”.

Week 9 Post-baby: Picking up my trainers

  • I went back to teaching my Step Aerobics and Pilates classes as soon as I could. Personally I needed this baby free time. If you can find a postnatal exercise class then go and do it.
  • Put the baby in a door bouncer or a bouncy chair, put on a postnatal fitness DVD and let them watch. I now do this with the baby watching and the toddler copying me.
  • Wear the baby in a sling and go walking, up hill or up and down the stairs is especially good.
  • Once the small ones are asleep have a set night you go out to exercise or do some exercise at home.
  • Exercise with other mummies – either in a class or go walking together.

I’ve even been know  to teach and do Pilates classes with baby asleep in the sling…. but I wouldn’t recommend you try this out.

Pilates with Priya: Pilates with a Sling

Try it out, I promise it will make you feel good 🙂

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.

ESSENTIAL FOR ALL NEW MUMS.

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

Week 9 Post-baby: Picking up my trainers

After 4 weeks of twitchy feet and 8 weeks retraining my core I decided it was time to try out a short run.

Pilates with Priya: Picking up my Trainers post-baby

Now I do not advocate rushing into high intensity exercise too soon post-birth. Here are the reasons I felt I was ready:

  1. I have worked on building my core strength back up and although its not where it was pre-pregnancy, I’m confident it is strong enough.
  2. I was active all throughout pregnancy (step aerobics until 37 weeks) so my body is used to exercise.
  3. I’ve spent several weeks building my cardiovascular exercise up with short workouts and walks.
  4. I still have a diastasis recti, its now 1.5cm but the depth of this has significantly lessened and I can feel the improvement.

So I planned a morning run, got the toddler and baby sorted and hubby at home to look after them. At last minute the toddler decided she was coming too. My first run turned into myself, the buggy and toddler running to the sounds of “What’s that mummy” and “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”, what better company could I ask for? I took it gently and managed a little cycle of running for 4 minutes, walking for 1 minute, a total of 15 minutes. Not quite my usual 6km run, but a good start. Here we are pre-run.

Week 9 Post-baby: Picking up my trainers

Later in the week I managed to sneak out for another run, this time with baby and the buggy and managed 4 1/2 minutes running, 1 minute walking. I’m hoping this will improve each time.

I’ve also had a sickly baby this week so other exercise has been teaching my Pilates classes and attending a Pilates class and ballet class for my benefit, no walking or weights but I have lost 1kg (2lbs).

If you are thinking about starting running post-baby here are my tips:

  1. Make sure you have a very good sports bra, especially if you are breastfeeding. I’m wearing a sports bra, support top and a top with a built in support.
  2. Build up to it, so get walking and doing other exercise first.
  3. Ensure your core is strong enough to support the impact or you could do more harm.
  4. Start small. Try running for 1 minute and walking for 1 minute in a little cycle and build it up.
  5. Wear good trainers, they will make all the difference.

Losing the Baby Weight: Week 2

This week has been mainly spent in hospital as baby Judah lost a little too much weight. Now most babies tend to lose some weight post-birth and they are allowed to lose up to 10% of their birthweight with no concerns. Little Judah ended up losing 15% of his birthweight so we were admitted for tests and monitoring.

Now hospital is not a fun place to be and with all the tests, feeding and being in a hospital room it became 5 days of mainly sitting and lying down with occasional sleeping 😉 So all the gentle walks I had been planning didn’t happen.

On of the questions the medical team had was over my milk supply and quality, so I focused a lot on feeding, expressing milk and eating well. You need an extra 3-500kcals per day when breastfeeding. The best thing is to ensure your meals are all balanced and then to eat according to appetite. I find I’m often hungriest last thing at night and at the night feeds.

All that feeding and expressing seems to be doing the trick as I’ve definitely lost weight this week and I’m back in my “slightly large, extra comfy” jeans – you know the type I mean. I’ve done a couple of very basic pilates exercises on occasions including single knee folds, pelvic tilts and standing heel floats. Don’t rush to get back into exercise at this point, just settle into getting to know your baby but do think about your posture when feeding and carrying baby. Stand/Sit tall, imagine you are lifted by the crown of your head towards the ceiling, slide your shoulder blades down in your back, have your weight balanced evenly over both feet and try to keep your lower back in a neutral position.

Bump to Birth Pilates: Day 14 post-birth

Bump to Birth Pilates: Day 14 post-birth

Top Tips:

  • Make sure you eat extra to enable your body to provide enough milk and good quality milk needed for baby.
  • Keep a snack box handy filled with healthy items you can munch on as you feed. For example healthy flapjack, nuts, raw veggies and hummous, oatcakes and peanut butter, dried fruit and cereal bars all feature in mine.
  • Keep going with your pelvic floor exercises, try to do these each time you feed baby.
  • If you can build in a couple of short, gentle walks.
  • Remember your posture.
  • Look out now for post-natal exercise classes and pilates classes.