by Elizabeth Nider
Being a fitness instructor for over 7 years, I was eager to get right back into fitness after my son was born in March 2007. One and a half weeks postpartum I decided to go for a run. Boy was that a mistake. I learned firsthand why The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) recommends that women wait 2-4 weeks after a vaginal delivery and 6 weeks after a caesarian before beginning an exercise routine. Childbirth is a beautiful time, but with it comes a much needed recovery, not to mention sleepless nights and feelings of loneliness and even desperation.
After going through pregnancy and childbirth, I realized that new parents need more accessible information about how to get connected with other parents, how to ease back into fitness, what a postpartum fitness routine should look like and how to exercise with baby. These realizations inspired me to bring Fit 4 Two to Richmond, where I teach pre and postnatal baby-friendly fitness classes for women of all fitness levels.
Contrary as it may sound, getting back into fitness will actually give you more energy throughout the day (and night), giving you the extra push to get out of bed at 3:30 am for baby’s nighttime snack. Exercising postpartum will also help improve your posture, strengthen your core and pelvic floor muscles, and keep your strength up to par with your baby’s growth (let’s face it- most babies double their birth weight in the first two to four months, how do you expect to carry this little munchkin around if you’re not strengthening your bicep and back muscles). Some moms have the enthusiasm and knowledge to be able to exercise on their own, but others need the support, motivation and expertise that can be found at a Mom and Baby Fitness class or by working with a Personal Trainer with a Pre and Postnatal Fitness Specialist Certification. Postpartum fitness classes are a goldmine for meeting other new moms, and are a healthy and fun way to add routine to your weekly schedule while bringing baby along. For those moms who are comfortable to exercise at home, there are many exercises that can be done while using your own body weight (or your baby’s) or with a resistance band. A great at-home exercise is the squat: stand with your feet parallel, hip width apart and squat as if you are sitting in a chair- remember keep your knees in line with your ankles, your chest up and butt out. Pushups are an effective way to strengthen the arms, chest and core, while playing with your baby. Try doing pushups from your knees, and each time to come down give your little one a kiss. In general, new parents should be working towards muscular endurance. This means that the exercises are to be performed one to two times (these are called sets) with 12-15 repetitions (these are called reps). Try to strength train twice a week and don’t forget to get your heart working as well! Staying motivated can be challenging, especially when you’ve had 3 hours of sleep and your baby is having a hard time differentiating between daytime and nighttime, and it’s important not be hard on yourself. Keep in mind that you and your baby will have better fitness days than others. Having appropriate goals can help you stay on track, which means that fitting into the jeans that you wore when you were 19 may not be as important as feeling strong, energized, healthy and fit for you and your family. Remember: A Healthy Mommy=A Happy Baby.
Elizabeth Nider operated Fit 4 Two® in Richmond. Fit 4 Two® Pre and Postnatal Fitness offers a variety of health and fitness classes for moms and moms-to-be all over the lower mainland. To read more about Fit 4 Two® visit: www.fit4two.ca