By: Rachel Read
Are you pregnant or a new mum? Your body has gone through enormous transformation so it’s not surprising you should adjust your fitness routine. Here’s some expert advice from Nicole Serje, the go-to trainer for pre- and postnatal fitness at Flex Studio.
Breathing is the most important aspect of postnatal recovery. During pregnancy, your body undergoes numerous postural changes, affecting your breathing mechanism and patterns – therefore, you need to “re-train” your body and teach it how to breathe correctly.
Your priority post-birth is postural alignment. If your posture and general daily movement are poor, your recovery will take longer.
Hydration, nutrition, minimising stress and getting rest are also important. Remember to be patient – you’ve created a baby and given birth! Allow your body time to recover.
Every mum is different. Any postnatal exercise programme should be aimed towards releasing tension from the body, reconnecting the body and then applying that into functional, everyday movement.
It’s always ideal to see a qualified health professional. Especially to check for issues like diastasis recti (where abdominal muscles separate).
Here are two of Nicole’s simple but effective postnatal exercises to try at home.
This one is especially great to practice at night before falling asleep.
#1 Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
#2 Breathe in, letting your chest expand naturally, trying to release any tension in your abdomen and pelvis.
#3 Breathe out through your mouth, like you are sighing. Let the back of your ribs and sternum sink into the floor, but don’t force the breath. You might feel some tension in your abdominals and/ or pelvic floor when you exhale, but don’t feel the need to try and “switch on” these muscles. Start with three to five breaths at a time.
Clam It Up
Clam exercises help with strengthening your pelvis muscles, including the pelvic floor, and providing stability and support to the area.
#1 Lie on your side, with your knees bent. Your hips and shoulders should be stacked on top of each other, with your head supported by your bottom arm or a cushion and your feet in line with your bottom.
#2 Keeping your feet connected to the ground, breathe out to open your top knee towards the ceiling – open it to its fullest range without allowing your top hip to roll backwards.
#3 Slowly lower your knee with control; you should feel some work at the side of your hip. Aim for 10 repetitions on each side.
Remember: Always get your doctor’s approval during your six-to-eight week check to start exercising (though the breathing exercise can be done from day one).
For more information on postnatal classes, visit Flex Studios in Central or Wong Chuk Hang | flexhk.com
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This article first appeared in the August/September 2018 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.