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Choosing the RIGHT postnatal fitness for you (and your baby!)

Updated: 7 days ago

I can’t talk enough about how important it is for you to REALLY think about you and your little one, when it comes to those first tentative steps back into fitness postnatally.

Whether you’re 6 weeks pp or 6 years, the length of time doesn’t matter.

If you haven’t addressed the issues you may now be facing, back ache, weak core, stomach separation, incontinence, prolapse to name a few, then it’s essential you start your road to recovery safely, suitably and in the hands of someone who really knows how to aid recovery in the early postnatal period.

Wall press ups are a great modification for the early postnatal period to gently start to rebuild strength in all areas.

With more and more fitness options becoming available (we don’t even have to leave our homes now!) it means there is so much more choice out there for us, however, it also means there is more to navigate when you try to decide which option to go for.

Mum and baby fitness classes are also now becoming prevalent in so many areas of the UK, which is AMAZING to see, but again, please do your research before putting you, and your baby’s, safety into the hands of someone else.

So what should you look for?

🔸 Relevant Qualifications

You don’t have to be a Personal Trainer to run group fitness classes, but you do need to hold a minimum Level 2 fitness qualification.

You also don’t need to be specifically trained in pre/postnatal fitness to run classes for Mums, however I would encourage anyone teaching to have that minimum qualification to ensure you understand the pre and postnatal body in the detail needed to safely look after your Mums!

Certain insurances may ask that the instructor have this particular qualification and also will have a set guideline or the number of Mums and children in each class.

Be mindful of any classes that seem overcrowded and relatively cut price, it may seem like a bargain at the time but…

A genuine business should always choose quality over quantity and prices should reflect the level of service and expertise offered.

A great instructor will always keep up to date with new training, techniques and research and invest in their own professional development.

🔸 Modified Exercises and 1:1 Guidance

Classes should NOT be ‘one size fits all’.

The instructor should show you different variations of exercises to suit your ability and postnatal recovery. There should also always be a low impact option available and that you’re made aware of and no pressure to ‘keep up’ with the rest of the group from your instructor.

The old saying ‘no pain, no gain’ is completely outdated, and quite frankly, more harmful than good.

In fact, if ANY form of exercise is causing you pain, please stop IMMEDIATELY and make the instructor aware.

During the class, does the instructor help guide you through the exercises - are they offering advice on posture, technique and form?

Are they spotting people who need an extra hand with completing exercises and demonstrating things properly?

A crucial part of postnatal rehabilitation is learning to breathe correctly again after the faulty breath work we are likely to face during pregnancy as a result of the many internal changes our body goes through.

Diaphragmatic breathing, suitable TVA (deep core) exercises, rebuilding strength particularly in lower body, back and core along with gentle stretching should be a main focus for any postnatal fitness class, especially if you are under 6 months pp.

🔸 Health Forms

Is the instructor aware of your medical history? Do they know if you’re suffering with a mild prolapse? Have they asked about your pregnancy, birth and recovery?

Do they know how many weeks postpartum you are - and are they aware of the official guidance around this?

I would always make sure the instructor is showing an interest in your individual recovery to be able to tailor exercises to your medical and health needs.

A good instructor will ask for an in-depth health form before your first session to assess your suitability for the class - it might be that the class isn’t actually right for you at this moment.

Have confidence in an instructor that turns you away for good reason - it shows they are putting your recovery above their financial gains.

If you haven’t been asked about medical history, don’t be afraid to ask the instructor some questions or tell them anything that might be concerning you.

A good instructor doesn’t have to know everything, but they should have an awareness of the more common postnatal issues. More importantly, they should be aware of how to cater their particular class to you.

If their knowledge seems vague or you don’t feel confident that they truly know how to correctly integrate you into their style of class, it may be worth getting a second opinion or going elsewhere - better to be safe than sorry!

Something as simple as how much sleep you’re getting and what your diet looks like, or if you’re breast-feeding, will also have an impact on your capabilities and progress.

An instructor that cares about the WHOLE picture is one you know will look after you, and your baby.

🔸 Safety first!

It’s wonderful to be able to bring your baby along to a fitness class with you… but there are serious safety considerations that need to be addressed first.

Has the instructor thought about both the participants and the children’s safety needs?

Have potential accident or near-miss situations been addressed?

Is the room set up safely to keep workout area and baby area as separate from each other as possible?

Are the exercises safe to complete around children and equipment clean, suitable and free from damage?

For example, where heavy equipment is being used, especially if being thrown or swung (kettlebells or slam balls), it should be well out of the way</