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There’s a lot of pressure for new moms to just spring back into shape, like elastic rubber bands, after being pregnant which is both unfair and unrealistic. You’ve carried this human being around inside you for nine months so of course, your body doesn’t look the same as it did before, yet when celebrities show off their trim ‘post-baby bodies’ only six weeks after giving birth you wonder how on earth do they do it?
Have A Check-Up
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The real answer is they don’t. Well not by themselves anyway, as they have an army of personal trainers, fitness experts, nutritionists and stylists on hand that help them to cleverly camouflage any leftover baby bulge with layered, well thought out outfits. In fact, rushing to slim down as soon as the baby’s born can drastically take its toll on your health, especially if there were complications during the pregnancy or your son, or daughter was born via caesarean. You’ve expelled a massive amount of energy recently so your body needs time to recuperate. Most doctors recommend you don’t resume your usual fitness routine until after six weeks, or once you’ve been given the all clear at your postnatal check up.
However, it's advisable that you do some gentle stretches, and stomach exercises to encourage your stomach muscles to tighten up again. There’s not rush to get back to the gym, and the emphasis should be on when you, not anyone else, feels ready. It’s just as important to look after your mental, and emotional well-being as it is your physical self as well, while taking the time to bond with your new baby and get used to ‘mom’ duties such as feeding, changing and bathing your newborn especially if this is your first child.
Fitness For You
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Be aware that your joints may be weaker than they were before. Your lower back may also be more prone to injury, and the exercise gear you used pre-baby will now no longer be suitable. Chances are you’ll have gone up at least two, if not three dress sizes so you’ll need new bras. If you’re worried about leaving your child in the care of someone else to go for a run, then a post-natal exercise class could be just the ticket. Babies are right there with their mothers, and their pram or travel cot is often incorporated into the workout! Remember if you’re headed back to a regular exercise class, especially yoga, it’s vital that you inform your instructor that you’ve just had a baby so that they can tailor the exercises for you and check that you’re not overdoing it.
Gentle exercise such as walking, or a light jog should be okay after a while as well as practicing your pelvic floor, or Kegel holds help to strengthen the bladder, and vaginal area meaning you're less prone to tearing, accidental leaks, common in women who’ve given birth, and a prolapsed uterus. You may find that swimming is more soothing than other forms of exercise, the water will carry you if you feel too tired and will help to relax aching, or tense muscles. While it may seem easier to take the car, or bus, if you feel up to it, it’s better to build activities into your day instead of setting aside time when the chances are that’s something you don’t have much of right now!
However you choose to exercise make sure you take regular breaks, drink lots of fluid and stop at the first sign of any bleeding. Women choose to get back into shape for a few reasons post baby; they want to feel like their old selves, are tired of wearing unfashionable maternity outfits and would like to lose the extra weight. Still, if you’re constantly feeling frustrated about your appearance it’s important to remember things have changed, being a new mother is always something to be extremely proud of and your body may never get back to how it was before.
Be Body Positive
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While you may feel saddened, or frustrated when you look in the mirror, in order to move forward you need to accept your body the way it is now. We’re not saying that you’re going to look like that for the rest of your life, wearing stretch yoga pants and an oversize T-shirt for years on end but right now you have bigger things to worry about than extra pounds. Don’t forget it’s perfectly natural for women to put on weight when pregnant; some even gain a stone or more when expecting so you won’t be alone in feeling like you're a stranger in your own body now there's no longer a baby inside. Now might be the time to treat yourself to a little shopping trip to stock up on cute, fashionable yet comfy dresses, as well as simple tops, patterned skirts, and jeans as well as having a look at the style section to see what today’s yummy mummies are wearing.
Don’t feel like you need to copy anyone’s style, though. If wearing button up blouses make it easier to breastfeed then do so, but if you’re struggling to get out the house because of the way you feel about yourself it might be worth having a chat with your health visitor or arranging counseling through your doctor. You’ll find that things become a lot easier when you ease up on yourself; you’ve just had a baby, so it’s a ok for you to eat that extra slice of cake, or if you still choose to wear your elasticated maternity jeans when going shopping. The most important thing, is to establish a new, wholesome relationship with your body. You may have stretch marks and scars, your tummy may now feel soft and wobbly instead of firm and taught but that’s fine too. Your body has performed a beautiful miracle and needs a bucket load of love, respect, and admiration instead of self shame or belittling. Try to avoid talking negatively about the way you look in front of the kids as it’s crucial they see you having a positive body image even if you don’t quite feel that way yet.