Fit and fine: How to get back in shape after having a baby
This column is for all women who want to start working out after having a baby. They want to lose that extra weight put on during the pregnancy as well as tone up their core. Generally, start feeling fit and strong again. But before I begin writing on post-partum fitness, let me put this disclaimer here – I am not a medical doctor. Before you start any fitness program please consult your doctor. If they approve of your readiness to train, then go for it otherwise no harm in waiting a little longer!
Pre-partum and post-partum
Please remember that the post-partum body took 40 weeks to get there. It makes sense that you should at least take that much time to lose the extra weight. Also do not get influenced by celebrities who claim to have lost all the weight in “X” weeks, as no two pregnancies are the same. Most doctors would recommend waiting for 6 weeks after delivery before getting back to the gym.
But before all that, what if the mother to be, tries to stay as close as possible to her ideal weight during her pregnancy. Just because you are pregnant should not mean that you can eat anything or everything. Also maintain a fitness regime during the 9 months – this would include non-impact cardio like cycling, walking, cross trainer as well as weight training. If there are no contraindications, then this regimen should be followed right up to the time of delivery!
Relaxin – erm what’s that?
Relaxin is a hormone released by the placenta. Amongst its other effects, Relaxin also loosens the pelvic ligaments, thus helping in carrying the fetus. Relaxin is supposedly the culprit for hip and back pain in pregnant women. It can last up to 12 months in the body after the delivery. So it’s a good idea to take it slow while getting back to workouts as the pelvic ligaments might still be loose.
Diastasis recti – disaster!
The left and the right side of the Rectus Abdominis aka the Abs might separate during pregnancy, this is known as Diastasis Recti. If this condition is present, then care must be taken while doing any kind of core training.
The post-partum fitness plan
•If your doctor allows, then walking for short duration would be the first step. Start with 5 minutes. In fact, walking can be done as soon as possible. If 5 minutes was well tolerated, go for 6 minutes the next day.
•Sit to stand or squats is a good way to introduce strength training in the fitness program. These can be done anywhere.
•Transverse abdominis training – sit or lie on your back. Pull your belly button in towards your back. This is the first step in core training.
•Glute bridges would be the way to train the gluteus muscles as well as the core.
•Band pull a-parts, band presses and band rows can be used to hit the upper body.
After 8 weeks post delivery, if everything is doing okay, its time to hit the gym. Start incorporating machine based lifts – low load, high repetitions would be the mantra. Cardio can be increased – running can be introduced if so desired. 12 weeks on, things can be ramped up! Again let me emphasise that no two pregnancies are the same. This timeline might be too fast or too slow and thus would have to be tweaked for different individuals.
Nowhere does the proverb, slow and steady wins the race, apply more than in post-partum fitness training. Now go ahead and do it.
Author bio: Kamal Singh is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist who has been coaching for 15 years
From HT Brunch, March 8, 2020
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