Nearly 4 months ago I was lying in a hospital bed giving birth to my second son Angus. Only a few months on, that moment feels like a lifetime ago! The sleepless nights and the frequent feeds are not behind us yet, but I feel much better than I did at this stage after the birth of my first child. And one of the reasons is because I have focussed some of my time post-birth on my own recovery.
I have come to realise that it is not selfish to take a little time out. As a new mum you need to be kind to yourself, give yourself a little break and don’t feel guilty. Our role can be completely overwhelming at times and it’s so important to carve out some time that is yours. This will probably seem impossible at the beginning but as you and your little one get into your routine together, small pockets of time will start to appear. Grab them and make them yours!
For me my favourite release is to come to the studio and get stuck into a Pilates class, be it with one of our lovely groups or on my own. Over the last six weeks I have been documenting my postpartum exercise journey as I regain my strength and fitness through Pilates. I can’t pretend it hasn’t been tough at times, but by making a plan and finding ways to stick with it has really helped. In the last of our postpartum exercise series, I wanted to share the things that have helped me to keep on track.
Make exercise a habit
The first time I got back to the studio to start exercising again, I was more than a little excited. My body was ready and I felt mentally prepared to get going. But it’s all too easy to ride this wave of enthusiasm and then crash and burn a few weeks down the line.
At the beginning of my journey I chatted with Claire, our CONTOUR instructor with a specialist interest in pre and post-natal Pilates. Together we made a sensible and achievable exercise plan. At the start of each week, I work out what sessions I need to do and how they are going to fit in. Most importantly I have started to treat my Pilates time as non-negotiable, in the same way I would an appointment or a feed for Angus. This helps me, and also my family, and means I am less likely to skip it. Having an overall plan with a goal has made it much easier to make my exercise routine a habit again.
Listen to your body
If something doesn’t feel right your body is telling you something. Stop and slow down. Although you have a schedule, be flexible about how you achieve it, and think about alternate ways to reach your goals for the week. For me, if I have missed a daytime class, I try to stretch at home and do some core work when both boys are in bed. Returning to exercise is journey and one that you need to take at your own pace.
Support exercise with a healthy diet and good sleep
Work on the things that help to support a healthy exercise routine. In the past I have concentrated much more on the exercise part when trying to regain fitness, but I have come to realise the importance of sleep and diet as core components of my journey. If I don’t get these right it is hard to exercise well and my body doesn’t get the maximum benefit or have what it needs to recover. In my last blog post I shared one of my favourite healthy snack recipes. These super-easy-to-make energy balls are helping me avoid the cake that seems to fill a lot of the first few months of motherhood and provide a much more nutritious snack for my body!
As you know, Pilates is my passion and I believe it is has been essential to my postpartum recovery. I am really pleased with where I am after 3 months, but more importantly I am sticking with my exercise plan and slowly regaining my strength and fitness. What do the next few months hold? More of the same I hope in terms of Pilates! My motto for 2018 is ‘Get Stronger, Move Better’ and I am determined to keep going.
We would love to hear how you are getting on. Have you just returned to exercise? Are you a little further on with your journey? Feel free to share what you have learnt or struggled with in the comments below and we can help support each other. If you are returning to exercise after giving birth and want to come talk to us, drop by the studio anytime and myself or Claire our pre and post-natal Pilates instructor would love to chat more!