Great Health Guide - - FRONT PAGE - Words Vanessa Bartlett De­sign Olha Blagodir

Dur­ing the nine months of preg­nancy and birth, your body goes through sig­nif­i­cant hor­monal and mus­cu­lar changes that need to be re-strength­ened and built up once again. With my 11-weekold baby, I’m cer­tainly feel­ing it’s a slow process to get my body strong again. But it is an in­cred­i­bly re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence be­ing a mum!

If you have just had a baby it is im­por­tant that you do the cor­rect ex­er­cises to help strengthen, re­build those ab­dom­i­nals and pos­tural mus­cles to avoid mus­cu­lar im­bal­ances when pick­ing up your baby, feed­ing and hold­ing them.

So here are my top five post-natal ex­er­cises you can do once your doc­tor has ap­proved you to ex­er­cise again: 1. Pelvic floor lift.

This is su­per im­por­tant, as the baby would have been push­ing down on your ab­dom­i­nals and pelvic floor gir­dle dur­ing the preg­nancy. By do­ing this ex­er­cise you will avoid hav­ing to rush to the toi­let or wet­ting your pants when you sneeze!

1. Sit down or lay on your back.

2. Take a deep breath in and as you ex­hale lift and tighten your pelvic floor (as if you are stop­ping wee mid flow).

3. Hold for about five sec­onds, then re­lease.

4. Re­peat 5 to 10 times 3-5 days per week.

2. Toe taps.

This is great to start to re-build­ing ab­dom­i­nal strength with­out putting ex­cess pres­sure on your stom­ach (NB – avoid crunch-style move­ments post-natal es­pe­cially if you have mus­cle sep­a­ra­tion.)

1. Lay­ing on your back, draw tummy in and lift pelvic floor.

2. Lift one leg to 90-de­gree an­gle off floor, ex­hale and keep tummy flat.

3. Then lift up the other leg to the 90-de­gree an­gle.

4. In­hale, tap one foot gen­tly to the floor, ex­hale, bring that leg back up, main­tain­ing your core strength.

5. Feel as if a belt is hold­ing your mus­cles in tight around the waist, do not let shoul­ders lift or ribs pop out.

6. 10 taps on each side.

3. Pointer with side ex­ten­sion.

You may have done this through­out your preg­nancy and it is great to con­tinue this as part of your reg­u­lar rou­tine. This will help you build your bal­ance and strength while re­con­nect­ing you to your ab­dom­i­nals and back strength.

1. On hands and knees – knees un­der hips, hands un­der shoul­ders, deep breath in and out draw­ing in tummy, set shoul­der blades to­wards each other.

2. Stretch right arm for­ward, left leg straight back in line with body off floor, main­tain­ing bal­ance and tummy in.

3. Slowly move arm and leg out­ward to 45-de­gree an­gle with­out mov­ing shoul­ders or hips (keep torso steady).

4. Re­turn arm and leg to cen­tre, con­trol down to floor and re­peat other side. Re­peat x 10 each side.

4. Bridge and In­ner thigh squeeze.

This is great to work your butt, core and strengthen in­ner thighs. Get a small firm pil­low or chi ball to place be­tween legs for in­ner thigh re­sis­tance

1. Lay on back, feet hip distance apart.

2. Press hips up off floor while push­ing arms down into floor be­side you.

3. Squeeze into pil­low or ball 5 times, then lower spine to floor.

4. Re­peat 10 – 15 times slowly, squeez­ing butt each time.

5. Di­a­mond tri­cep press.

This is great to start ton­ing arms and work­ing up­per back strength, plus stretch to help with pos­ture.

1. Lay on tummy, legs slightly apart.

2. Hands in di­a­mond shape un­der fore­head, arms in di­a­mond shape also on floor (el­bows slightly to side).

3. In­hale, ex­hale, draw tummy in off floor, squeeze glutes (butt).

4. Gen­tly press hands into floor as you push away from the floor, straight­en­ing out arms (note – only go a short way up to start with. As your tummy re­builds and you don’t have mus­cle sep­a­ra­tion, con­tinue up higher if it feels OK on your back and abs with­out the tummy pop­ping out).

5. Con­trol your body back down slowly, keep­ing ab­dom­i­nals strong with slow move­ment the whole time.

Be kind to your­self af­ter hav­ing your baby and re­mem­ber that it takes at least sev­eral months to fully get back to pre­vi­ous pre­ma­ter­nity shape. This of course de­pends on your preg­nancy and birth.

Ease into th­ese ex­er­cises and add in some reg­u­lar walk­ing to boost your car­dio fit­ness as well. When you take care of your body, you will also find a more bal­anced men­tal state for deal­ing with those late-night feeds for the baby too!

Vanessa Bartlett has 14 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence in the fit­ness in­dus­try and has ap­peared as a pre­sen­ter for TVSN, The Morn­ing Show and co-hosted a com­mu­nity TV Life­style show. In 2013, she was part of a group award for ‘In­no­va­tion in Healthcare’ and is on a mis­sion to em­power peo­ple to be­come ed­u­cated in holis­tic health prac­tices, pow­ered by Pi­lates. See Vanessa’s web­site for fur­ther in­for­ma­tion.

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