Fortunately for mums, over the last 10 years, an increased focus on health and fitness in the media and a corresponding increase in the number of personal trainers entering the market has seen a correlating increase in the number of providers offering exercise for mums and bubs. Everything from yoga, pilates, bootcamps, barre classes, aerobics, circuit classes, crossfit and personal training are marketed to new mums. So, if doing Jane Fonda videos in front of the TV doesn’t cut the mustard, how do you know which type of postnatal fitness program is going to suit you?
So here are 6 easy steps to ensure you are selecting an effective and safe exercise program for your postnatal recovery:
1. Determine what your goals are
As busy mums we need to make sure we are getting the most from our exercise time (ie. training smarter, not longer). If your goal is weight loss, then doing a pilates class once a week is not going to cut it. Have a clear idea of what your goals are and pick exercise that is going to get you there the fastest. Getting advice from a personal trainer can help if you are unsure.
2. Do you need to take the ankle biter/s with you?
If the answer is no, then lucky you! But the reality for most mums (at least when babies are small) is that where mum goes, baby goes.
Nobody knows your kids better than you. If they are going to sit in a gym crèche crying until you return, that probably isn’t the best option for you (or them). Look for a provider that offers a care option that suits you and your child. This might be one with babysitters, a crèche, or having the kids join in the class with you. If you have two kids or more, make sure you check out whether they accommodate this and whether there is any extra cost. Do they have a comfortable place for you to feed baby, easy pram access and convenient toilet facilities? Finding a provider that has the facilities, services and attitude that suits you and your baby makes your trip to class all the more pleasant.
3. Know your limits
Our bodies go through huge changes during pregnancy and birth and are often not quite the same afterwards. These differences may resolve over time or they might become the new reality. Either way, it is important to make sure that any exercise you do does not contribute to the worsening of these conditions and where possible assists with recovery. This is especially important for pelvic floor health and weakened abdominals. Selecting appropriate exercise styles and being open and honest with your training provider will ensure a safe and effective exercise program.
4. Do something you enjoy
You are much more likely to maintain motivation if you are doing exercise you enjoy in an environment you feel comfortable in. But remember to keep in mind the goals you set in point one (1). There is no point only doing yoga if you would like to lose 10 kg. Talking to other mums and sharing your experiences can also be enjoyable so finding a group you can relate to can provide its own motivation.
5. Do your research
Most fitness providers are small businesses looking to service their local area. Hopefully you will be able to find a local provider offering whatever it is you want to do. The best way to find them is to ask on a local mother’s Facebook group, use a directory such as Natural Therapy pages or search on Google using terms such as ‘fitness for mums (insert suburb here)’.
Once you have established what providers are in your area, check out their credentials. Offering a babysitter or a playpen does not qualify them as a postnatal trainer. Look into what qualifications your trainer has. Do they specialise in postnatal fitness? Do they have experience in accommodating your particular health limitations? Also, are they insured and do they have a Blue Card (working with children check).
6. Give it a go
Don’t be afraid to try a few different classes to find one that suits you. Life will also throw obstacles at you on your way to exercise nirvana but don’t be discouraged. If the whole family comes down with a tummy bug, take a break, but be sure to jump straight back in once you are able. Let go of the guilt and be proud that you are doing what you can.