Keeping Fit After Having Kids

Fitness for Mums & Babies in Dorset


Before my babies keeping fit meant such a lot to me. The gym was my sanctuary. I lived for that workout buzz and cared perhaps a little too much about my physique.

Then I had my first daughter and then my second daughter and things have changed...........dramatically!

Anyone who has children will tell you that it flips your world upside down. I thought I knew what tiredness was but I really had no idea. I adore my children and wouldn’t change my family life for the world but I do still crave exercise and feel a pang of envy when I see people out running or the endless fitness posts on social media.

Before children I regularly indulged in endorphin releasing personal training sessions, spin classes, lengthy trail runs and distance running events. Before children I had ‘spare time’! I find now any spare time I have is trying to discover the bottom of the washing basket, replenishing the fridge or dare I say..........sleeping!!

I do try to make time for exercise. I love keeping fit for physical health reasons but I think now the benefits it has on my mental health have really come to the fore. I have battled with post natal depression following the birth of my second daughter. Allowing time to workout in combination with treatment from my GP has seen me coping better with my symptoms and helps me feel energised in the day and sleep better at night.

I have had to accept that I can’t fulfill my fitness cravings in the same way I once did. There are plenty of ways to get a fix though.

Here are my top 5 ideas:

1. SQUAT........a lot!! After my baby weight began to drop off I found myself left with a bum that looked saggy and flat! There are loads of ways you can squeeze this fantastic compound exercise into your day. Squat whilst securely holding your baby, they often giggle and the additional weight challenges your quads and glutes. Squat whilst tidying up toys. Pick up each toy with a nice low squat. Squat whilst changing nappies! Just throw in 10-20 squats whenever you can. Every little counts.


2. Discover other exercises you can do with your baby......weighted bridge, kneeling squats, shoulder press.....I could write a pretty lengthy list here. Lots of big smiles and eye contact allows some sneaky exercise for yourself to become nice bonding time too.


3. WALK. Walking is an amazing source of exercise. A fast paced jaunt with baby in a carrier or in the pushchair is great to aid steady core and pelvic floor recovery whilst burning calories. I have developed a real love of walking, it’s great for mindfulness. If you feel like you’d like to run with a buggy perhaps look at buggies designed for exactly this. These buggies ensure correct posture to save your back and are nice and low with adequate suspension to allow a smooth ride for your little one.


4. Dance. Stick YouTube on and dance around your living room. Babies and toddlers love it and it makes you feel great and gets that heart rate up really effectively.


5. Seek out a Mum & Baby Fitness Class. At Activmama (Mum & Baby Fitness Classes in Dorset) I have designed workouts that are safe and suitable for all fitness levels. Each Mum will have a ‘tummy check’ to highlight if they have a Diastasis Recti (abdominal muscle separation). I then advise on what exercises are safe to aid recovery. We also focus on the pelvic floor. The classes are high energy and provide a really decent workout. I want mums to leave feeling great. This is achieved with a combination of laughter, friendly company, great music and that amazing endorphin release. Check out my website for reviews. I offer free taster sessions if you’d like to come along and give it a try. Get in touch to book.

I have found that as well as altering my fitness routine that I am now exercising for different reasons. My fitness and physique are still important to me but I am also demonstrating to my children that exercise should be part of every day life. My three year old regularly joins in and is aware that exercise is healthy. We also discuss healthy, balanced and sustainable eating habits so that this is normal for them too. I want to stay healthy for my children as well as myself.

Exercise after children is still achievable but maybe just a little different.

What are the Benefits of Hypnobirthing?

BENEFITS OF HYPNOBIRTHING

Are you considering a Hypnobirthing Antenatal Course but are still undecided? Have a read through this blog and notice that the benefits don’t stop at the pregnant mother.

FOR MUM:

·        Hypnobirthing is great during pregnancy. Regular relaxation reduces circulating cortisol in the blood stream. Mum is calm, relaxed and confident. Pregnancy can be a daunting time with lots of dramatic changes taking place. Daily relaxation helps to ground the mother and allows her to reflect on her pregnancy and becoming a parent.

·        Relaxation before bed can induce better sleep.

·        KGH courses provide comprehensive antenatal information. This extensive knowledge allows the mother to develop faith in her body’s ability to both give birth and to breastfeed.

·        Mums can overcome fear of birth whether it is her first pregnancy or a subsequent one.

·        A positive birth experience often sees a Mum being a lot more energised post birth.

·        Hypnobirthing results in higher levels of the hormone Oxytocin. This results in more effective and efficient surges (contractions) during labour whilst being great for initiating breastfeeding and for bonding.

·        Hypnobirthing Mums often have shorter labours.

·        They are less likely to have intervention and may not need to use pain relief.

·        Labour is likely to be a lot more comfortable and in some cases entirely pain free.

·        The skills learned during a hypnobirthing course will be beneficial whatever the birth journey.

·        Women develop an inner strength – this is not only useful during birth but will also be valuable as a new mother.

·        The course gives you a skill for life.

·        FEEL EXCITED, CONFIDENT & PREPARED FOR BIRTH.

FOR DAD/BIRTH PARTNER:

·        Dads/partners often find the practice helps them sleep.

·        Attending classes and practicing together helps them be involved in the preparation for birth.

·        Most importantly it GIVES THEM A STRONG ROLE DURING THE BIRTH. They know how to support the birthing mother which aids her in having the most positive experience possible. Check out ‘The Birth of Addison’ in Positive Birth Stories.

·        An understanding of the physiology of birth helps them talk things through with the mother and build her confidence.

·        They experience pride at having such an active role during pregnancy & birth.

·        A positive experience assists with bonding.

. A positive shared experience is great for a couple’s relationship.

·        FEEL EXCITED, CONFIDENT & PREPARED FOR BIRTH.

FOR BABY

·        Baby will enjoy Mum’s relaxation – relaxed abdominal muscles allow them more room to move and they sense Mum’s calm.

·        There will be a reduction in Mum’s circulating cortisol which crosses the placenta.

·        They build associations of calm with particular music which can relax them as a newborn.

·        Mum is less likely to reach for opioid based pain relief which crosses the placenta. This means the baby will be more alert post birth. This can help initiate breastfeeding.

·        Hypnobirthing babies tend to be calmer and sleep better (this isn’t guaranteed!!).

·        Babies born to hypnobirthing Mums often have higher APGAR Scores –

                                 Appearance

                                 Pulse

                                 Grimace (reflexes)

                                 Activity

                                 Respiration

If you are still unsure why not attend a taster session? Teachers are always more than happy to answer any questions you have and have a genuine passion to support parents through pregnancy, birth and beyond.

Emma's Breastfeeding Top Tips

I produced a handout for my hypnobirthing couples and thought it might be useful to post it here too.

Breastfeeding is wonderful but can be challenging. Seek advice and support without hesitation if you need it.

Here are my tips:

Emma’s Breastfeeding Top Tips

1.GET INFORMED - do as much research as possible whilst pregnant. Good books include:

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding- La Leche League

The Positive Breastfeeding Book - Amy Brown

Why Breastfeeding Matters - Charlotte Young

Good sources of online info include:

kellymom.com
laleche.org.uk
abm.me.uk

2. Find out when and where your local Breastfeeding Support Group is held. Have this on your fridge before baby arrives. Maybe even go along and say hello whilst pregnant - you will be very welcome.

3. Breastfeeding should NOT be painful. Your nipples do NOT need to toughen up. Any on-going pain or cracking is signalling a latch issue. Even if the appearance of the latch seems good, pain is not normal. Get some support. Resolving a latch issue promptly and effectively is paramount.

4. Have faith in your body. It is extremely rare for a mother to not be able to produce enough milk. The best indicators that your baby is getting what they need is the number of wet and soiled nappies they produce and steady weight gain. Your midwife will ask you about this when they visit. How much you can pump and the appearance of the milk is NOT representative of how much you are producing and the quality of your milk.

5. Feed responsively (or on demand). Whenever your baby signals that they are hungry, feed them. Rigid feeding schedules can have negative implications on supply and your baby’s wellbeing.

6. The only way to increase your supply is by milk being taken from the breast. The more the baby feeds the more milk you will make. It is a SUPPLY & DEMAND style system. There are no foods or supplements that are proven to improve supply. 

7. Embrace cluster feeding. It can be exhausting but this is baby building your supply. It can occur at the time of a growth spurt and in those early days. Go with the flow and try to enjoy the cuddles.

8. Get your partner, friends and family on board. Divulge some of the amazing facts you have learnt about breastfeeding and its benefits. It is much better if they are supportive of your choice rather than quickly suggesting the use of formula milks.

9. Be kind to yourself. Yes, breastfeeding is completely natural but so is walking. We had to learn how to walk, you and your baby are learning how to breastfeed. Ask for help if you need it.

10. Avoid pumping in the first 6 weeks unless advised by a professional. It can cause over supply and problems such as mastitis.

11. Use of dummies in the early days should be carefully considered as they can mask feeding cues. Failure to feed responsively can adversely affect milk supply and baby’s weight gain.

12. Avoid formula top ups unless advised by a breastfeeding expert/trained healthcare professional. Top ups mean baby is not taking milk from the breast. This will reduce milk supply, (google ‘TOP UP TRAP’). There is no evidence that formula makes babies sleep better. In the newborn this can appear to be the case but it is thought to be as a result of formula milk being more difficult to digest. 

13. There are plenty of ways for Dads and other family members to bond with the baby. They do not need to use a bottle to feed the baby in order to bond.

14. Have a look into ‘The Forth Trimester’. We often have unrealistic expectations from our newborn infants, particularly where sleep is concerned. Having a read about this might help you to understand their behaviours.

15. Unless you are completely comfortable with it, consider keeping visits from well-wishers short and sweet in the early days. As you learn this new skill you may find it is a bit of a ‘boob out’ ‘help from partner’ ‘few attempts to perfect the latch’ type scenario to begin with. Before you know it you’ll be feeding confidently and it will be no issue whatsoever.

16. The Lullaby Trust is a great place to get advice on safe sleeping arrangements.

17. For expressed milk remember the RULE of SIX. Milk can be kept at room temperature for 6 hours post expression. 6 days at the back of the fridge and 6 months in freezer. After baby has begun to drink from the bottle it must be discarded after an hour. kellymom.com has good guidance for handling and storing expressed milk.

18. The World Health Organisation advises exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and highlights the benefits of breastfeeding for 2 years and beyond. Be confident in your own choices about how long you wish to breastfeed for. 

19. It is possible to breastfeed after a return to work. Your local breastfeeding group will be able to support you.

20. Get some photos of you feeding to treasure.

What is Hypnobirthing? A Brief Overview

EB Fitness & Well-Being - Promoting Positive Birth in Dorset

Almost as soon as a woman announces that she is pregnant she quickly becomes bombarded with horror stories of birth. People surrounding her, without ill meaning; seem to revel in divulging the most gruesome and terrifying accounts. This coupled with how birth is represented in the media, sets the mother up for a pregnancy filled with fear about the birth of her baby. Birth is portrayed as a dangerous and increasingly medicalised event.

It really doesn’t have to be this way.

At EB Fitness & Well-being I teach the Katharine Graves Hypnobirthing Programme. The course is accredited by The Royal College of Midwives and offers a comprehensive antenatal education for expectant parents. Those that attend gain extensive knowledge about the physiology of birth. Acquiring a deep understanding of the body’s amazing design gives confidence and enables the mother to trust in her natural ability to give birth.

During the course parents learn hypnotherapy techniques which help the mother to be able to achieve a state of deep relaxation during her pregnancy and during labour. When thinking about hypnosis many will imagine stage hypnosis where subjects appear to cluck like chickens or eat onions as if they were apples in a trance like state. Hypnobirthing is in no way similar to this. The mother is in complete control at all times and will be able to come in and out of her relaxed state whenever it is needed during the birth. Hypnobirthing sets the most positive frame of mind in parents which in turn allows the mother’s body to progress through labour comfortably, efficiently and effectively.

While hypnobirthing can’t always promise the perfect birth, those who use the technique are less likely to need medical intervention and are likely to have a shorter labour. Hypnobirthing will always have a positive effect whatever the birthing scenario.

A future blog will highlight specific benefits of hypnobirthing for not only the Mother but also her birth partner and baby too.

The course can be delivered in the privacy of your own home or as part of a group. Group courses are held in the beautiful Tarrant Valley with a promise of plenty of biscuits! For more information please get in touch via the website and find me on Facebook & Instagram. @ebfitnessandwellbeing.