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.

get in shape after pregnancy

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.

carmen

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, moms, 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 as 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

  1. 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.
  2. 6-8 weeks post birth (bearing in mind there no complications at birth and you were physically fit) do the following exercises:
  • Planks
  • Push-ups
  • Lunges
  • Walking/ Light Jogging
  • Spinning/ cycling/ swimming
  • Light weights – circuit training
  • Refrain from abdominal work and jumping/ plyometric/ intense or high-energy aerobics
  1. 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.
  1. 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

Qualifications:

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)

 Her approach:

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.

 

17 thoughts on “[Feature Friday] How to Get Your Body in Shape after Pregnancy

  1. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to keep fit during my pregnancy for various reasons. So I’m hoping to bounce back into my treadmill routine after baby is born because walking is my preferred method of exercise. Do you have any diet tips? Loved the exercises guidelines!

    1. Gaynor,

      I did forward your question to Carmen and she says it is a challenge to respond without knowing all the details – i.e. the client’s history.
      She is more than willing to take this offline with you, receive more info and then respond appropriately.Please let me know if I should give her your email address 🙂

  2. I love the positive tone of this post. So often this topic totally turns me off. This is very inspiring and I love the takeaway points.

  3. Thank you for the tips. I’m still young with no children but TBH I’ve always worried about my body figure post-pregnancy. It’s amazing to see women who commit to working out towards a body they love on top of parenting!

  4. This post is by my Daughter Carmen. She endured a relatively easy pregnancy although her little body was coping with 2 little boys inside. However she had a traumatic birthing of the beautiful boys and she suffered trauma to her body, her mind and her emotions. But – as you can read, she came through it all and I credit her 100% for her complete commitment to her own wellbeing and her exercise and eating habits. I also give kudos to Shaun my son-in-law for being so “hands on” during the pregnancy, birth, and most importantly supporting her by being part of the family unit to its full degree. Having babies is not only about “being pregnant” and those 9 months. It is more importantly about the love and support afterwards. So proud of both Shaun and Carmen….. and my beautiful “lovelies”.

  5. I love this! Exactly what I needed to read coming in on the end of my pregnancy, we may be having baby #2 in a week! Great tips, I am certainly going to implement them. Self care is really important in general but I think moreso after a baby;once you are a mom. Especially if you suffer from any ppd or anxiety. I have been trying to plan out some self care stuff post baby for this very reason. Thanks for covering this!

  6. I can’t believe it takes 18-24 months. That’s crazy. I was pregnant 3 months after my 1st pregnancy.

  7. Definitely a positive post, though it does sound pretty full on for any one who has just had a baby. I am not a parent so possibly not that qualified to speak, but from friends who have had children, exercise is definitely not on their agenda x

  8. There are some interesting points here, I’ll forward this to my sister who is looking to get back into shape after giving birth x

  9. These are awesome tips! I stayed active during both of my pregnancies and only about 25 lbs. Staying active and healthy allowed me to have great pregnancy experiences and great recovery processes.

  10. These are really great tips that I’ll have to keep in mind Lord-willing I have a second child. It’s so important to take care of our bodies to have the physical and mental strength take care of the next generation!

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