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Read below for the unedited version of my answers to the questions from the Daily Mail editor with all the extra info on top of what was included in the Daily Mail’s edited article.
Daily Mail: With all these celebrities sporting incredible bodies after just four weeks of giving birth, do you think it’s possible for normal mums to achieve this?
Rich: I have an enormous amount of respect for any woman that his given birth. It is an astonishing achievement to create, nurture and give birth to another human being and the changes to any woman’s body as a result are evidence of that great gift.
In short, how a lady looks soon after giving birth is primarily a result of the training and nutrition habits she has maintained throughout her pregnancy to preserve (and even improve) her pre-pregnancy health & fitness.
So, any woman who makes good health & wellbeing a priority before and during her pregnancy can achieve exactly what any celebrity can – they’re ‘people’ too.
In the museum world, there is a perspective that the ‘imperfections’ that develop in famous pieces over time become part of its history and therefore should be retained. This is a great concept for the body after giving birth.
The first 4 weeks post-partum should focus on rest, recovery and light restoration work (if appropriate doctor’s clearance is received) – this is not the ‘make-or-break’ period for honing your ideal post-birth body.
Daily Mail: What exercises would you recommend?
Rich: As a new mum, getting back to your pre-baby workouts – or a new routine altogether – could and should take some time. However, there are some exercises that can be done almost immediately to help your body heal well (providing your doctor gives you the go-ahead).
Try following the 4R Post-Pregnancy Protocol.
3 great exercises to help your body regain optimal function after having a baby focus on the ‘3rd R’, ‘Rehab’ section. This means regaining function of the body to avoid core and pelvic floor issues.
You can do Exercises 1 and 2 from the first few days post-birth. Add Exercise 3 after the first 10 days or 2 weeks postpartum, if you’re feeling comfortable and your doctor gives you the all clear.
Exercise 1 – Core & Floor Connection Breath
What to do?
– As you inhale, it should feel like your ribcage, tummy and the base of your pelvis are gently filling up with air.
– As you exhale, breathe the air out of the ribcage, the tummy, and the base of your pelvis.
– Do 2 sets of 10 breaths daily. You can do the breaths in any position; lying on your back, side-lying, sitting or standing (in ascending order of difficulty).
Why do it?
– It will help you regain tone throughout your entire core (post-pregnancy, this focuses on the diaphragm, abdominals, muscles that support the spine, pelvic floor muscles and the glutes).
– You will learn how to gain and release tension in the abdominals and pelvic floor.
– Your inhale breath will help to release tension, and your exhale breath will help to gain tension in those muscles and connective tissues.
– Doing lots of crunches or contractions of the pelvic floor (e.g. kegels) will not help you train the whole core.
Exercise 2 – Half-Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch with Overhead Reach
What to do?
– Get into a short lunge stance on the floor, with both knees at a 90 degree angle and weight evenly placed on both legs.
– Squeeze your back leg’s glutes tightly, so you feel a stretch along the front, through the hip flexors and the quadriceps.
– Whichever knee is on the floor, reach that arm up in the air. Stretch your fingertips up towards the ceiling, and then take a gentle side stretch over the front leg side. You will feel a nice openness through the side of the ribcage.
– Do 2 sets of 6-8 reps each side daily.
Why do it?
– It teaches your body stability, as the position itself is a slightly unstable. You’ll really need to squeeze your glutes to feel stable over the back leg.
– It’s a great opening side stretch for the diaphragm and the ribcage which can become cramped and stiff through classic mother duties early on after a baby is born.
Exercise 3 — Squat
What to do?
– Stand tall and inhale as you prepare to sit back, into the hips.
– Think about squatting ‘between’ your legs. Your feet will be slightly turned out, and the knees will track outwards slightly following the line of the feet.
– Squeeze your glutes and quadriceps to stand up, exhaling as you return to the standing position.
– Do 2 sets of 10 squats daily.
Why to do it?
– You will maintain good mobility and movement through your pelvis.
– You will regain core stability through the whole core by controlling the movement as you lower into the squat and stand back up from the bottom with power.
– When you use the breath to inhale down and exhale up, the abdominals and pelvic floor go through the motions of undergoing a stretch and then a contraction.
Daily Mail: When do you think it’s too soon to be trying to get into shape?
Rich: Providing you have the right clearance from your medical professional, you can ease into the 3 exercises above in the first few weeks after giving birth.
There are steps and checks along the way with the doctor, (surgeon if applicable), the physiotherapist and a set timeline of when it is safe to return to certain activities.
Although your doctor may ‘clear you for exercise’ at 6-weeks post, be certain that this means light and gentle exercise and keep in mind that the healing process is not done at 6 weeks.
The types of exercise that will be beneficial at this time are, for example, breathing, walking, core restoration, and bodyweight exercises as outlined above.
The types of exercise that will not be beneficial at this time are, for example, traditional/advanced abdominal exercises, plyometric exercises, intense exercise/exercise classes (including running and heavy weight training), any exercise that causes bad pain or any exercise that your gut tells you isn’t quite right.
Daily Mail: What’s the hardest part of the body to get back into shape?
Rich: Typically, given the intense demands placed upon a woman’s core and lower back during the process of giving birth, these muscles are placed under considerable strain and must be eased back to full function gradually and appropriately.
The good news is that it is absolutely possible to regain great function and appearance of your core muscles after giving birth.
Be sure to liaise well with your medical professionals. Provided they give you the all clear, the tips and activities I’ve already mentioned can set you well on your way to a magnificent recovery in the early phase post-birth with firm foundations in place to hone the post-pregnancy body you want.
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