This week’s Feature Friday is with Carmen Douglas-Kilfoil. She discusses how to get your body in shape after pregnancy. Carmen has been working in fitness and training clients since 2007, with a special focus and interest in pregnancy and postpartum training. She has also been an Instructor for Preggi Bellies since 2008. Find out how your body can bounce back post baby.
With all the expectations and anticipations that awaiting a baby brings, we as women, and I use this loosely and lovingly, also tend to do one of two things; we either forget about ourselves and self-care in the process (often referred to “as letting yourself go”) or, we fret over our aesthetics and wallow in the changes a developing baby does to our physical body.
It certainly doesn’t help having societal pressures and, a never-ending variety of celebrities showcasing their “fairy-tale” pregnancies and “8-week comebacks” post giving birth. Quite frankly, I’d also look like Elle McPherson if I had eight hours a day dedicated to exercise, had a personal chef and dietician and many nannies and helpers ensuring my baby’s needs were met so I could meet my own needs. My reality was, somewhat different, very exciting and challenging and continues still, with three-year-old twin boys! And I’m in no way, unique, you too would have experienced similar.
Some key pointers that I personally think are important to share:
Be patient, be kind and be willing to accept inconsistency in your routine during pregnancy. Whatever happens, your body will recover. Exercise will help immensely and is important, but with or without it, your body will recover.
Here’s a fact that no one ever really mentions. Physiologically, the human female body is only fully recovered from giving birth, 18-24 months after the birth has taken place. Yes, that long. This includes hormone levels stabilising, physical body recovery and emotional and psychological changes. Remember too, that it took nine months to get the end result, a baby (or more if you carried multiples). So how can you possibly expect a reversal of that, almost instantly? Although I do realise and agree, we live in a pretty cool world today with quick fixes and instant solutions for almost anything, why hasn’t this one been figured out yet?
Right, let’s get down to the point of this article, how to get that body moving, flexing some muscles and toning up. What to do and what not to do.
For starters, it’s important to try not get too unfit or out of shape while pregnant. Maintaining some fitness and discipline in the calorie intake area is key to helping yourself (and baby) in the long run.
Women who stay physically fit while pregnant not only reduce their and baby’s risk of complications during pregnancy and at birth but, the baby will also benefit immensely during development in utero and mommy will recover faster post birth, regardless of the type of delivery.
If you’ve missed that opportunity, keep calm and just keep reading.
The following exercises are guidelines and best to incorporate into a time-savvy routine. It’s also a consideration of weeks as they pass, dependant on your physical body post birth or baby’s development and disruptive milestones. All babies, mums, environments and situations are different, so just take it easy, trust your gut and adopt an 80/20 lifestyle. If you can do the healthy, exercising stuff 80% of the time, then the remaining 20% doesn’t pose a massive problem.
Again, if I think back to my overall experience, there have been months of challenging mornings calling for gym and just not happening, and months of pure bliss that I could wake up and get a solid and valuable hour of training in before my day started.
How to Get Your Body in Shape after Pregnancy
- Immediately post birth, perform Kegel exercises as often as you can. Get out of bed. Walking around will do you some good and get those muscles activated.
- 6-8 weeks post birth (bearing in mind there no complications at birth and you were physically fit) do the following exercises:
- Walking/ Light Jogging
- Spinning/ cycling/ swimming
- Lightweights – circuit training
- Refrain from abdominal work and jumping/ plyometric/ intense or high-energy aerobics
- 8 – 12 weeks:
- You can continue with the previous list but now add squats and light abdominal work
- Be cautious of sit ups/ crunches and similar exercises, the abdominal wall is more than likely still separated and repairing, give it time to heal. Permanent damage should not be a goal set for yourself.
- 12 weeks and continued:
- All of the above, as well as now enjoying all forms of exercise and intensities.
- Be aware of any discomfort during exercise training and be sure to query this with your gynaecologist or GP (for example, some women may experience incontinence for months post birth).
Some other great exercise options on how to get your body back in shape after pregnancy are; Yoga, Pilates, spinning classes, swimming, hiking. An ideal training session should be anywhere between 45 – one hour, dependant on your intensity and whether you realistically have the time to spend away from the baby.
About Carmen Douglas-Kilfoil
Exercise Specialist and TRE® Facilitator – Certificate in Basic Sciences and Group Fitness Instruction (2007), Preggi Bellies Pregnancy and Postpartum Training (2008), Certification Exercise Specialist Cancer Training Institute USA (2015), TRE® Certification (2016)
Carmen loves health and wellness. When people have a passion for themselves and, are committed and dedicated to themselves, it inspires her to share with them a journey of rediscovering the wonders of their physical body and the physicality of our bodies.
Carmen is focused and able to guide clients through a customised program, which develops physical functionality, strength, and flexibility, as well as conscious awareness of the body; bringing awareness to physical responses and triggers the body communicates to regularly; which we have sadly forgotten how to “hear” and respond to the feedback our body is giving. Within her programs, Carmen draws a lot of attention to this aspect and also teaches you what to do next. This is imperative for achieving goals, making valuable and positive changes to our lives as well as being able to continue strides forward, to a balanced and well-lived life.