How long does it really take your body to recover after pregnancy?

The female body takes time to recover after 9 months of growing a person and squeezing it out of a very small hole, or even out of the sun roof. But just how long? Weeks, months or years?

The doctor can sign you off as soon as six weeks post birth when initial recovery has taken place but a study published last year by Salford University, suggested it could take up to a year for women to recover both physically and mentally. Some experts suggest this may even be two years, since it takes this long for your abdominal muscles to fully return to their pre-pregnancy state. And then there’s breastfeeding – pregnancy hormones remain in your system for up to four months after you stop nursing your child.

So here’s a little guidance on how long it really takes for beautiful female bodies to recover after birth:

Early days

In the early days after giving birth your body is in full recovery mode. You may have lost a lot of blood and fluids and you’ll definitely be short on sleep and energy. You’ll most likely be sore and swollen so now is the time to enjoy some confinement and TLC.

0-6 weeks

There’s a lot going on during the first six weeks of post natal recovery. Whilst your uterus is contracting (cause of the painful, cramping sensations you’ll be getting) the rest of your internal organs, which got squidged out of the way during pregnancy are returning to their rightful place. Your pelvis will be recovering and returning to it’s pre-labour state and your urethra, vagina and anus, which again will have moved slightly during pregnancy will be returning to their original homes. Any intense activity during this stage could hinder the healing process. Walking and gentle stretching is fine but definitely nothing bouncy.

You’ll also be bleeding heavily and may also be anaemic, so plenty of iron-rich foods and dark green vegetable to aid iron absorption are critical during this time.

You’ll be quite inflamed and possibly held together by stitches for a few weeks. You’ll need to keep them as clean as possible with salt baths and lavender or calendula compresses and drink plenty of fluids for breast milk and to flush out any nasties and minimize your risk of infection.

Some women get haemorrhoids, mastitis, back ache or other complications and all women will suffer with some degree of sleep deprivation so rest, recuperation and realism are the order of the day for the early weeks.

Up to 4 months post breastfeeding

Your pregnancy hormones, most noticeably relaxin stay in your body until up to four months after you finish breast feeding. This means any associated symptoms, such as reduced stability in your pelvis and joints, also linger for this amount of time. So high impact activities are best enjoyed with caution until you feel ready to go – experts disagree on this point but you know your body best and if you are at all at risk of or unsure of your pelvic floor stability, focus on this side of your training through Pilates or resistance training before you hit the tennis court.

You may also find that the extra ‘insurance’ fat that your body gained in the early days of pregnancy also sticks around until baby is weaned, this is because your clever body is still holding on fat stores vital for hormone and milk production. Fat is not just stubborn lumpy stuff with no purpose, it’s an organ in its own right, storing and generating hormones and of course energy.

Up to a year post birth

The University of Salford study, conducted by Dr Julie Wray, interviewed women during their first year post birth and concluded that women need a year to recover both physically and emotionally after child-birth. Her study found that women felt unsupported by medical services and very much left to get on with it. This is where social networks made through local health clinics or organisations such as the NCT offering Bumps and Babies groups can be a vital part of the healing process. Relationships, personal self-worth, finances and health are all put through the mill in the first 12 months. It takes time to re-find your feet with a new member of your family.

Up to two years post birth

When you are pregnant, your growing baby forces your abdominal wall to stretch. The body responds by creating new muscle cells, or sarcomeres, literally lengthening your abdominals. According to health practitioner Paul Chek (author of How to Eat, Move and be Healthy) it can take up to two years for your abdominals to fully recover. Three big factors that can prevent this recovery, causing an abdominal distention are: Having two babies within two years (or falling pregnant within two years of the last pregnancy); gaining a large amount of weight during pregnancy; or a C-section (C-sections can cause internal scarring or adhesions which can add to abdominal distention).

Two years and beyond

Complications such as diastasis recti (split in the abdominal wall), adhesions, post stitches pain or pelvic floor dysfunction (such as prolapse) can cause problems well beyond two years.

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Outdoor exercise – why it’s so good for you!

Exercising outdoors makes you happier

Huffing and puffing your way round the park may not sound like an instant mood-booster – but research suggests otherwise. Just five minutes of exercise in a ‘green space’ – such as your local park – is enough to make you feel happier and less stressed, according to recent research, published in the Environmental Science and Technology journal. The effect may be due to the oxygen boost from fresh air, which encourages production of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin. You don’t necessarily have to run: the results were the same for other types of exercise, such as walking or cycling . Even spending a few minutes pottering around in the garden can cheer you up!

You’ll burn more calories outdoors

Exercising in the open air isn’t just a mood-booster: you’ll also see quicker results from your workout. The reason? Walking, running or cycling outdoors puts more demands on your body. No matter how many fancy settings there are on your treadmill or exercise bike, they can’t totally replicate the varied terrains and weather conditions you’ll encounter outside. A study at the University of Brighton found that people tend to burn significantly fewer calories on a treadmill than they do when covering the same distance outdoors. It’s also hard to replicate running downhill in a gym, which means your leg muscles don’t get the same all-over workout they would outdoors.

You’ll have healthier bones

From about the age of 35, we naturally start to lose bone density so are more at risk from osteoporosis. Vitamin D is a key player in the fight against the bone-thinning disease because it regulates our bodies’ calcium and phosphate levels, ensuring healthy bones and teeth. And where do we get most of our vitamin D from? Sunlight! And to top up our levels, we should each try to get 10 minutes of sunlight exposure to bare skin once or twice between 11am and 3pm each day from May to September, according to the National Osteoporosis Society’s Sunlight Campaign. But – obviously – do take care not to burn. If you stay out for longer than a few minutes, make sure you apply sunscreen!

 

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Postnatal Exercise for the first 6 weeks

I am often asked ‘what exercise can I do in the first 6 weeks after birth?’.  While it isn’t advised to begin a formal exercise programme, there are still some things you can do to give yourself a head-start back into fitness.  Here are some common questions and answers:

Do I need to exercise in the first few weeks?

Yes. It’s fine for you to take some exercise, as long as it’s gentle, in the first few weeks after having your baby. Gentle lower belly exercises and pelvic floor exercises are all it takes to help your body to recover at this stage.

Although exercise may feel like the last thing you want to do while adjusting to life as a mum, it does have benefits. It can:

  • Boost your mood by increasing the levels of feel-good chemicals (endorphins) in your brain.
  • Help you to lose weight  and regain your pre-baby figure, if you eat sensibly
  • Protect you from aches and pains
  • Give you more energy, if you are feeling tired
  • Improve your strength and stamina, which will make looking after your newborn easier.

The most important exercises in the first few days after birth are your pelvic floor exercises. Start doing them as soon as you can. Strengthening your pelvic floor will help to protect you against having accidental leaks.

Pelvic floor exercises will also help your perineum and vagina to heal more quickly. That’s because the exercises improve circulation to the area, helping to reduce swelling and bruising. If you have stitches, exercising your pelvic floor won’t put any strain on them.

You may find for the first few days or weeks that you can’t feel your pelvic floor muscles working or that nothing is happening. Keep going, as the feeling in your pelvic floor will return after a few days and it will be working even if you can’t feel it.

As soon as you feel up to it, try to get out and about, ideally by walking and pushing baby in their pram. Make sure that the pram handles are the right size for you so that you don’t have to bend forwards or reach upwards.

In the first few days, your perineum or pelvic floor may feel uncomfortable, swollen or very heavy. Start with short walks of about 10 minutes, building to 20 minutes. Try to make a walk with your baby part of your daily routine, so that you’re more likely to do it.

If your lochia becomes redder or heavier, this may be a sign that you are overdoing things, so take things easy. In fact, the key to exercising healthily is to listen to your body.

You may feel on a high for the first few days. Then you may come down to earth with a crash when the baby blues kick in or you run out of energy. Try to pace yourself with a little bit of exercise followed by a well-earned rest.

If you are unsure about what you should be doing, talk to your doctor or midwife.

It’s safe to exercise while you are establishing breastfeeding. Exercise won’t affect the quality or quantity of your breastmilk.

The jury is out as to whether taking regular exercise when you’re a new mum reduces symptoms of postnatal depression. But one small study showed that joining in with regular exercise sessions helped new mums to feel better after their baby’s birth.

You’ll be adjusting to all sorts of new routines now. It’ll help you to keep up the exercise habit if you make gentle exercise one of your routines.

What about exercise after a caesarean?

The gentle exercises in this article are safe for you if have had either a vaginal birth or a caesarean section.

Gentle exercise of your tummy muscles can help them to recover from the operation. You may feel a pulling sensation when you tighten your muscles, but you should not feel any pain.

Be guided by how you feel. If you have had a caesarean  you may find that you become tired easily.

Are there exercises I shouldn’t do in the first six weeks?

Don’t go swimming until you have had seven days without any bleeding or discharge from your vagina  (lochia). If you have had stitches or a caesarean section, wait until after you have had your postnatal check. Talk to your doctor about exercise regimes that go beyond gentle tummy-tightening.

Don’t exercise in a hands-and-knees position for the first six weeks. There is a small risk that a little clot of air can form at the site where your placenta was attached.

How do I exercise my lower tummy muscles?

Your lower tummy muscle is the most important one to exercise after you have had a baby. It works with your pelvic floor muscles to support your back and pelvis. Exercising your lower tummy muscle may help you to lose your post-pregnancy belly.

Try this exercise, either lying on your side or on your back with your knees bent up. If you have had a caesarean section, you may find it uncomfortable to lie on your side for the first few days, so lie on your back.

1. Breathe in and as you breathe out, tighten your pelvic floor muscles. The feeling is one of squeeze and lift. Imagine that you are stopping yourself from passing wind and doing a wee mid-stream at the same time. Once you’ve tightened your pelvic floor, gently pull your belly button in and up. You should feel your lower tummy muscles tighten.

2. Hold this while you count to 10 without holding your breath (this is the hard bit!). Then slowly relax your muscles. Wait at least five seconds and then repeat. Try to avoid moving your back or over-tightening the tummy muscles above your waist.

You may find that you can only hold a squeeze for a second or two in the early days. Try not to worry – you’re doing fine. Aim to hold your tummy muscles in for 10 seconds by the time your baby is about six weeks old.

You can try lower tummy muscle exercises sitting on an exercise ball  once you can do them lying on your back or side:

1. Sit on an exercise ball with both feet on the floor, preferably on a carpet to ensure the ball does not slide away from you.

2. Squeeze your pelvic floor and lower tummy muscles and then gently lift one leg off the floor. Remember to breathe! Hold this for up to five seconds, slowly lower your foot and relax your muscles. Repeat between five and 10 times on both legs.

How can I strengthen my pelvis and back?

Pelvic tilts are useful exercises that gently move and stretch your back and exercise your tummy muscles. They can also help to alleviate back pain. You can do pelvic tilts lying down, sitting or while balancing on an exercise ball.

Here’s how to do pelvic tilts while lying down:

1. Lie on the floor or on your bed. Place a pillow under your head. Bend your knees by sliding your feet up towards your bottom.

2. Tighten your pelvic floor and pull in your lower tummy muscles, before squashing the small of your back down into the floor or bed. Hold this for a count to three and then arch your back away from the floor or bed. Repeat this 10 times. Try not to hold your breath!

Here’s how to do pelvic tilts while sitting:

1. Sit on a chair or stool with your feet on the floor.

2. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles and pull in your lower tummy muscles. Slump your back and then arch it so you stick your chest and bottom out. Keep the exercise flowing smoothly so you stretch your back one way and then the other.

Here’s how to do pelvic tilts while using an exercise ball:

1. Sit on an exercise ball with both feet on the floor, preferably on a carpet to ensure the ball does not slide around.

2. Move the ball backwards and forwards with your bottom, allowing your pelvis to move with it. Try to keep your shoulders still. You can also move the ball from side to side to exercise your waist muscles.

How do I strengthen my upper back?

It is easy to spend a lot of time sitting in a slumped position when you’re a new mum, especially while breasfeeding. Try these exercises to stretch and move your upper back and neck.

1. Sit up straight with your arms crossed over your chest. Twist to the left and then to the right. Repeat 10 times each way.

2. Sit and link your hands behind your neck. Twist to the left and then to the right. Repeat 10 times each way.

3. Sit and link both hands together in front of you. Take your arms up in front of you and above your head as far as you can. Hold for two or three seconds and then slowly lower your arms down again.

This exercise will strengthen your neck:

1. Sit and slowly turn your head to the left and then to the right.

2. Slowly, tilt your head so you move your right ear down to the right shoulder and then your left ear down to your left shoulder.

3. Slowly bring your head back to the middle and then bend your neck forwards to your chest and backwards to the ceiling. If you start feeling dizzy, do the exercises more slowly.

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What’s the best exercise to flatten your tummy?

This is the most common question I get asked – ‘What’s the best exercise to flatten your tummy?’

There are lots of exercises that will help strengthen your core muscles.

But no amount of situps will flatten a flabby belly – a flatter stomach will come from one thing…..

GOOD NUTRITION!

All the sit ups in the world won’t get ride of that belly fat from around you middle.  But don’t worry, you’re not stuck with it forever!

Heres a few tips that will help you lose some stubborn fat from around your middle:

  • Drink more water, aim for a glass every hour rather than downing it all at once
  • Eat at least 3 portions of green vegetables a day, go for spinach, watercress, kale in salads and broccoli, sprouts and cabbage for cooked variation
  • Eat more protein, chicken, turkey, fish, beef, lamb, steak….Rotate which types of protein you eat so you don’t get bored
  • Sleep more. no I dont mean take afternoon naps. I mean get to be before 10.30pm most nights and make sure you’re room is dark (really dark) switch off mobile devices
  • Exercise at the correct intensity, complete sharp short bursts of exercise that use the main muscle groups in your body.
  • Rest, taking time out to just sit for 10 minutes to de-stress and gather your thoughts
  • Empty your stress bucket, stress is unavoidable but how we deal with it is important to how our body reacts. Stress is one of the key factors in rising obesity levels

 

 

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Rebuilding Your Core After Pregnancy

A common concern among new mothers is how to get rid of their jelly bellies and regain flatter, more toned stomachs. For some women, re-strengthening their core seems an easy task, but for most it is an uphill battle that takes many months, even years. With proper exercise and diet the process is not as hard as many think. In fact, depending on your delivery method, there are specific exercises you can do to speed up your body’s recovery.

How Early Is Too Early? 
Many women want to resume intense exercise as soon after birth as possible, before their abdominal muscles or pelvic floor are ready. This may lead to incontinence problems and prolonged back pain, sometimes due to diastisis recti (a stretching of the midline of the abdominal muscles) that was not corrected. With proper training, and beginning as early as 24-48 hours after birth, you can avoid many problems and work toward rebuilding and toning your body the right way. If you’ve done a good deal of abdominal work and exercised throughout your pregnancy, this process will be easier, but if you were sedentary, you can still achieve good results.

Proper nutrition and a gradual return to other forms of exercise (walking, jogging, weight lifting) are just as important in restoring the body to its pre-pregnancy state. You’ll never see a “six pack” if a layer of fat is overlays it. Weight loss and fitness take patience, time, and discipline; if things are pushed too soon, other problems can arise. It can take 6-12 weeks to return to a pre-pregnancy state – sometimes longer – so don’t give up!

Always check with your doctor before beginning this routine, since all mothers and all deliveries are different. Restrictions may apply to you that prevent your doing these exercises immediately. Begin only when your doctor clears you, and always remember that patience and time will help – so don’t get discouraged!

The Importance of Breathing
Once the baby is born, your body undergoes a dramatic change in a very short period of time. The skin and muscles that were so taut over the belly are now loose and jelly-like and can lack the neuromuscular awareness to work properly. This is why it is so important to use breathing techniques that shorten the abdominal wall to its previous length. As you inhale, your chest and abdomen should expand; as you exhale, your chest and abdominal wall should flatten. This concept is important when retraining your core after birth. The muscles in your belly must shorten before they can be strengthened. Exhaling while pulling your abs in shortens and strengthens with each outward breath.

What About Diastisis Recti?

A spreading of the midline of the abdominal wall, it is usually detected in later pregnancy, and is present if you can feel a separation of greater than three fingers. The extent of diastisis should be checked three days postpartum by lying on your back with knees bent, placing fingers in midline of abdominal wall and lifting your head up. Feel for the separation below your fingertips; if it’s greater than three fingers, make the exercise modifications outlined below until the diastisis is corrected.

  • Diaphragmatic breathing (Abdominal tightening on outward breath): Lying on your back, place your hands over your abdomen. Inhale and allow your belly to rise as it fills with air. Exhale through your mouth as you tighten your abs, pulling them in towards your spine. Your stomach should flatten, not bulge, as you exhale.
  • Kegels (Pelvic floor contractions): Can be done in any position. Tighten and hold for 5 seconds. Do several times a day.
  • Pelvic Tilt: While lying on your back with your knees bent, tilt your pelvis backward as you tighten your abs and exhale. Try to bring your belly button to your backbone as you push your low back into the mattress/floor. Hold for 5 seconds, inhale, and relax.
  • Stretch out the kinks: Lie on your back with arms and legs out straight, palms up. Bend at the ankles so toes are aiming for the ceiling, tighten thigh muscles and push knees into the bed. Pull your abdominal muscles in and flatten your back. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and elongate your neck. Press your hands back into the bed and hold this for a few seconds, then relax. This allows your muscles to contract isometrically (without changing length), which is safe on the body and provides an easy readjustment to normal posture after birth.
  • Active posture check: Standing – tuck your chin in to elongate the neck, pull your shoulders down and back, tighten your abdominal muscles while pulling your belly into your backbone, tighten your pelvic floor, keep knees soft, and increase the arch in your foot.

Phase 2

  • Bridges: Lying on your back with knees bent, contract your abdominal, buttock, and pelvic floor muscles, and raise hips up off the floor. Hold for 5 seconds and relax down slowly. The farther your feet are from your buttocks the more challenging it will be. Bridging can also be progressed by lifting one leg while up in bridge position – but you must be able to keep hips level to do this.
  • Heel Sliding: Lying on your back, tighten your abdominal muscles and do a pelvic tilt. Slowly slide out one leg at a time while tying to maintain your pelvic tilt. You can progress to sliding both legs out together as long as you can keep the pelvic tilt and not allow the back to arch. Always bring legs back one at a time.

Phase 3

If diastisis is present after day 3 postpartum, do not move on to phase 3.

  • Curl ups: Lying on your back, begin with arms outstretched, exhale, and pull your belly into your spine as you slowly reach with your hands towards your knees. Only roll up until your shoulder blades lift off, then inhale and slowly lower. Be sure your stomach flattens (not expands) as you rise. Also, do diagonal curl ups by reaching right arm past left knee as you curl up, and vice versa. Increase difficulty by changing arm positions, from easiest to hardest – arms outstretched, arms crossed across chest, and arms crossed behind head.

CESAREAN DELIVERY 
*See instructions above

  • Diaphragmatic breathing*
  • Huffing: This is important if general anaesthetic was used – it helps clear mucous out of the throat and lungs. Take quick forceful outward breaths while tightening the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles.
  • Ankle/foot movements help prevent blood clots after anesthesia.
  • Pelvic Tilt*
  • Bridges with a twist*: While hips are elevated, drop one hip toward mat, then the other, so that you are gently twisting your hips. This helps alleviate gas pain as well as working your core.
  • Kegels*
  • Straight and diagonal curl ups* (if no diastisis present)
  • Active posture check*

BOTH VAGINAL AND CESAREAN DELIVERIES

Move on to exercises listed below as tolerated.

  • Single leg lowering: Lying on your back with knees bent, do a pelvic tilt and lift one leg up. Straighten out the leg, maintaining pelvic tilt as you return leg. Progress by lifting both legs and doing a bicycle motion. Your abdomen should be flattening with exhale, not bulging.
  • Double leg lowering: Maintain pelvic tilt as you lower your legs, starting with knees bent and straightening legs out as you lower. Only lower as far as you can maintain your pelvic tilt. Once you feel your back begin to arch, return legs one at a time to starting position. Double leg raising will work your hip muscles and is too much pressure on your spine and abdominal muscles – LOWER with both legs but RAISE one at a time.

 

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Postnatal Depression

I really wanted to post something about this, as it is something that I and 2 of my close friends have suffered with.  At 17 weeks pregnant with my 2nd baby Niamh (who is now about to start Reception!) I started to suffer with horrific lower back pain. I went to see my GP and she wasn’t available so I saw one of her colleagues.  I was in tears in the consultation room, with the then 15 month old Faith in tow, I explained about this chronic pain and was there anything I could be prescribed.  He took a long breath and a long look at me and then said that he felt that there was something more to this, something underlying, pre-natal depression.  I was furious with him, of course I was crying, I was in a lot of pain, of course I didn’t have pre natal depression!  I left the surgery furious with him!

In hindsight, I was 17 weeks pregnant again, with a 15 month old.  I was working, teaching a lot of classes at the Virgin gym as well as running Buggyfit.  Niamh was born on 21st November and I was back teaching both my gym based classes and buggyfit when she was only 6 weeks old.  Faith, then only 20 months old wasn’t in any childcare so I had both of them all day along with juggling work.

I struggled massively for a few months and then with the support of my lovely husband, made a doctors appointment in July 2009  It took until August 2009 to get a diagnosis of Post Natal Depression.  I literally spent a lot of my time wanting to just run away, and, more worryingly wanted to jump off the nearest bridge.

Luckily I have an amazing GP who helped me through the initial stages, prescribed me anti-depressents and set me up with counselling.  Many things came out of this that I didn’t even realise were upsetting me, family issues, and it was great to work through these.

Fast forward 4 years and I am on a reduced dose of the medication (i.e I only take it every other day!).  I am so fortunate to have made a couple of big decisions work wise this year about things that were causing me a great deal of upset, and I am now happy to say that I have eliminated some negative aspects of my life and am focussing on heading forwards.

My 4 year old starts full time school next month and my 6 year old moves into year 2.  I am gradually reducing the medication and feeling better day by day.

The baby blues is one thing, this happens to 95% of new mums, but if this feeling continues it could be more serious.  My advise is to get help.  There is nothing to be ashamed of.  But above all, try to talk to people about it, your partner, friends, family etc.  If you feel you don’t have anyone to talk to, then talk to me – I’ve been there 🙂

Here’s some more details:

‘For most women, having a baby is a happy experience, but it can also bring serious complications. An all too common complication associated with giving birth is Postnatal Depression (PND).

Many women, up to 80%, will experience what is commonly referred to as the “baby blues” after giving birth. One out of every eight to ten women will experience a more severe form of the baby blues known as PND. Researchers believe that PND is caused by the rapid hormonal changes that occur just after birth.

How do you differentiate between the baby blues and PND? The baby blues are more commonly associated with a short term sense of sadness after birth, usually lasting for no more than 2 weeks. It is normal after the excitement of pregnancy and the drama of birth for women to feel slightly blue and even let down. PND is much more serious, and sometimes doesn’t kick in until a few weeks after delivery.

There are several warning signs that patients should look for if they suspect PND.

Warning Signs of PND:

  • Constantly feeling restless
  • Irritability that doesn’t fade day after day
  • Feelings of sadness that last more than a few hours or one day
  • Frequent and inexplicable crying
  • Persistent lack of energy
  • Inability to sleep despite fatigue
  • Weight loss or weight gain that is extreme
  • Feelings or fears that you will harm the baby
  • Guilt
  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • Excessive anger
  • Lack of interest in your newborn
  • Intrusive thoughts

PND is very serious. If you have one or more of the signs listed above and are concerned, it is extremely important that you consult with your doctor immediately. PND can be treated with a combination of medication and counselling or therapy. There are also several things that you can do to care for yourself if you are experiencing signs of PND.

Tips for Caring for Yourself:

  • Rest as much as possible
  • Talk to your partner about your fears and concerns
  • Talk to your doctor
  • Be around other people as much as possible
  • Find a support group of other mothers or talk to friends of yours that have children for support
  • Take some time to get dressed and fix your hair. Enlist the help of your partner when you need it.

Some people are more at risk for PND than others. If you have a family history of depression, or have recently experienced events that were unusually stressful while pregnant or shortly after birth, you may be at risk. Single mothers are also more at risk. Be sure to reach out to friends, family members and even your doctor who might be able to recommend a community support group for you to get involved with.

“It’s normal for women to have the ‘baby blues’ up to two weeks postpartum. It isn’t abnormal to be teary, moody and even tired. If those feelings persist coupled with more extreme symptoms including a fear of harming yourself of your baby, you must contact your doctor immediately!” C. Piccone – Labor and Delivery Nurse’

 

 

 

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A great blog from Burrell Education re the Perfect Breakfast!

OK, so I think we’re all on the same page regarding…..BREAKFAST?  Basically, if you start the day with a sweet, carbohydrate dominant breakfast like cereal, orange juice, toast and jam etc., guess what?  You’ll crave carbs and sugar ALL DAY LONG!  The more you eat, the more you want!  And unlike the governments FOOD PYRAMID we all now know that it’s not fat (the right kind) that we should be wary of, its SUGAR!  If you want to see dramatic fat loss……reduce your SUGAR INTAKE!

Sugar basically causes an inflammatory reaction in the system which has shown to be the precursor to a host of illnesses such as heart disease and of course Diabetes and as most of you reading this blog will be in the business of improving your Pelvic Health with positive lifestyle and nutrition, getting to a point where consuming sugar just isn’t a given in your nutrition is a smart move.

So, here are some ideas to help you make better.

A Great Article on the Science Bit!

So first up, I love savoury food for breakfast and would happily eat a roast dinner on rising so here’s one of my favourite breakfasts that you might like to try….2 scrambled eggs in coconut oil, smoked salmon and brocolli.  Very savoury!

 

SONY DSC

This breakfast in high in Omega 3 (awesomely GOOD FAT), the brocolli is part of the cruciferous family – great for hormonal balance and of course high in protein and fibre.  Add as much brocolli as you like to ensure you are satiated.

 

And here’s a beautifully presented Pea Protein and Raspberries Smoothie option for those of you who just can face the above in the morning from Ambassador Kelly Bassett in Brighton.

pea protein smoothie

 

Pea Protein Frozen Raspberry Smoothie

Ingredients…….


Oat milk or coconut milk not the stuff that you cook with though (the coconut milk that looks like milk but is much better for you!)
Heaped teaspoon of Pea Protein Powder
A handful of frozen raspberries – high in antioxidants and a LOW GI fruit
A Teaspoon of Chia Seed
A Teaspoon of Flaxseed – great for hormonal health, great bowel function,full of essential fats and improves insulin resistance
A Teaspoon of Raw Cocoa – full of anti-oxidants and important minerals

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What we mean by ‘the core’

So many times we hear this term bandied around and I know I use it ALL THE TIME in classes and sessions!

“I want to strengthen my core”

“engage your core”

“my osteo says I need to work on my core”

“I’m doing Pilates to work my core”

sounds familiar?!

But what is ‘the core’ and what is it for?
 Essentially, your core supports you and gives power to all your movements. It supports and protects the organs that it surrounds and the joints and bones that are attached to it. For a simple image, take a look at this:

The-Core

So basically, the 4 labelled components of the ‘Core’ are shown above in yellow and the dark grey line of the Abdominal Wall.

Isolating your tummy muscles isn’t the most effective way to work your ‘core’ because, as you can now see, those muscles do not work in isolation – they work together with a whole load of other muscles and connective tissue.

Perhaps you can now see why a strong core = a strong back = a flatter tummy = a non-leaky pelvic floor?
For mummies, this means a body that can lift her baby, pull the car seat out of the car, reach and grab a toddler from legging it across the road, lift the pushchair off the bus and jump to the songs in her toddler’s singing class without leaking wee. All in a day’s work right?!

Oh, and by the way, these muscles work properly when you breathe mindfully; they switch on when you exhale.
Try this: sitting properly (come on – stop slouching…!), breathe out and draw your belly button in. You should feel a tightening in the front part of your pelvic floor. If you’re very body aware, you may also feel a change in tension in your lower back too. This is your core working!
This is why, in every class, I am banging on about mindful breathing, exhaling as you lift. Not just in the class….. every time you lift, every time you exert and move your body. Oh, and along the way, you might just get a better looking tummy as well as a pain free back and non leaky pelvic floor!

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