Yes, you can get your stomach back to it's pre-pregnancy glory
With a tribe of Instagrammers who seem to have their six packs back in place before they’ve even changed one nappy and A-list celebrities springing back into their size zero gowns faster than you can say ‘breast pump’, the pressure to get back into your pre-preggo jeans seems bigger than ever.
We’ve taken the liberty of speaking to Nicola Addison from Eqvvs Training about how you should manage your post-pregnancy fitness, the best workouts for you and what all women worry about with baby in hand…
What advice would you give a pregnant woman on keeping fit throughout the 9 months?
Exercising during pregnancy is about maintaining your current level of activity so don’t strive to beat personal records or push your limits! If you were an active person pre-pregnancy and exercising regularly, then keep this going but the key is to listen to your body! Do what feels right and take each day as it comes.
Does pregnancy change your metabolism?
Your metabolism changes daily as it’s the energy that you burn throughout the day. The amount of activity you do will have the biggest impact on your metabolism rather than the fact that you are pregnant. If you slow down and do less activity because you are pregnant, you will in turn be burning less energy, meaning your metabolic rate will be lower.
I hate to break it to you, but remember that the ‘eating for 2’ premise is a myth! The Institute of Medicine says if you’re a healthy weight, you need no additional calories in the first trimester, then only 340 extra calories a day in the second and about 450 extra calories in the third trimester – that isn’t a Starbucks hot chocolate!
When would you suggest returning to the gym once you’ve given birth?
This totally depends on what type of birth you have had. Usually it’s 6 weeks after a natural birth and 12 weeks after a C section but you should always consult with your GP/health visitor beforehand! It’s important not to obsess about getting back to the gym. You can start walking as little as 24 hours after some child births. It all depends upon your type of birth and how you are feeling on that specific day.
What problem areas do women usually come to you with post-birth?
It’s not so much about problem areas post-birth but more about low self-confidence in body shape and a lot of women mention that they want to regain their pre-birth shape. Some other considerations are larger and sore boobs and weak pelvic floor muscles.
What exercises would you suggest starting off with?
Walking, more walking and then even more walking! Do as much as you feel comfortable doing. Accumulating steps throughout the course of the day will add to your fitness level and the energy that you expend. At the very least, try and complete 30 minutes of brisk walking each day.
Following that, maintain your pelvic floor exercises along with a steady, dynamic exercise program. Once again, don’t push for personal bests but instead concentrate on getting the body moving through it’s full range of movement again. One exercise that I wouldn’t advise to do post-birth is sit-ups. Completing 100s of sit ups is not going to have any impact on the size of your tummy as your abdominal muscles take time to reform.
What advice would you give a woman who is looking to lose the weight they gained?
At Eqvvs, we work on the simple rule of ‘9 months on, 9 months off’ as it’s very rare that the weight will come off quicker than that. The best advice I can give is to not put too much pressure on yourself. Be realistic with your expectations but also keep putting the hard work in and remember to not lose heart if you don’t see instant results. Forget the scales, stay active and the weight loss will take care of itself.
And finally, will your stomach ever look the same post-birth?
Yes! Of course your stomach can look the same post-birth particularly if you have taken care of your skin during your pregnancy. Your skins elasticity is totally dependent upon age, genetics, sun/UV damage and other elements but there is a general consensus that rubbing creams and oils into the tummy does help sooth the skin and assist with stretch marks.
When you have the all clear back into exercise, at that point you are no different from anyone else trying to lose the excess flab from their waistline so you need to start thinking about burning fat and toning the muscles underneath.
I wouldn’t say there is a specific abdominal routine post birth but you should try and focus on the Transverse Abdominus (TVA) to start with. By completing the plank move, you can develop tension in these abdominal muscles without changing the length of them (isometric contraction). Holding the plank for a minute at a time can be a fantastic starting point in your quest for your pre-pregnancy tum.