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Mother and Baby

Pre- And Post-Natal Fitness Advice From Our Wednesday Lunch Club

Section: New mum fitness

Missed our Wednesday Lunch Club with yoga and Pilates instructor Susan Yu? Don’t worry, you can read all of the expert advice she shared here

Every week at Mother&Baby we bring you the Wednesday Lunch Club – a chance to get brilliant advice for your parenting questions from a top expert. This week, yoga and Pilates expert Susan Yu was on standby to answer questions.

Susan is a Yoga and Pilates instructor, who teaches privately and for InstructorLive. A mum of one, Susan is also training to be an Osteopath.

Spurred on by her gymnastics background and osteopathic knowledge, Susan is passionate about holistic body training, promoting weight loss and general wellbeing in mind and body.

If you missed the chat, here’s what happened…

I'm experiencing some back pain while doing my antenatal yoga class. Should I stop the class or is there something else I can do instead? I'm a hugely active person and don't want to stop working out altogether.

Susan Yu: It depends what type of pain you are experiencing. It can be a number of things. Depending on the back pain, it could simply be that you are not doing the exercise properly. It is an easy mistake to make – your perception can go off a little when pregnant as your hormones and body are forever changing.

It also could be that your body is changing, and these changes are causing a nerve to be pinched, or muscles to be hypertonic due to strain.

Whatever the cause, you need to consult a doctor or an osteopath to make sure you are not doing anything to harm the baby. I know it can be dreadful when you have to physically take it easy, especially when you are an active person. But you need to make sure the baby is safe first.

Once you know the baby is safe, you can always change the type of exercise you are doing so as not to cause further damage. You can hire a personal trainer (PT) for a one off, so you can ask about what exercises are best for your situation, and then just up keep yourself. If you need a refresher, just book the PT as and when to keep costs down.

You can also take your PT-session knowledge and apply it to your yoga class session. You know what is best for you and what feels right. Just let the class instructor know at the beginning of the lesson, so that he or she can keep an eye out.

What do you recommend as fun (and safe) exercises that I can do with my one year old? I struggle to get a babysitter and have heard about baby yoga.

Susan Yu: Mother and baby yoga is great! Not only does it help you get back in shape, but it is a great bonding tool and it helps the baby develop his/her motor skills, quicker.

If you are not into yoga, you can still run around in the park and play with your little one. It does exactly the same thing.

Once my daughter is older, I’m thinking of doing an online mother and baby yoga or fitness class on Instructor Live. So watch this space!

What areas should you focus on during pregnancy?

Susan Yu: There is not really one area to focus on. You should try and be well rounded as this will help you when giving birth, and it will also help you get back into shape after the pregnancy.

You need to keep your core strong, but not too tight as you still need to give your baby room to grow. Yoga is great for gently stretching your body to help it open, to give your baby room to grow. But yoga also helps keep the deep core strength in tact without being too invasive.

Cardio and resistance training will give you the strength and endurance needed for child birth, and also when carrying your child.

The only exercise I do/have time for is my walk from nursery to work – which takes about 20 minutes. Is there any way I can maximise this walk to keep me fitter?

Susan Yu: You can add ankle and wrist weights to add resistance in your walk. Resistance training helps build muscle. Having more muscle increases your metabolism, helping you burn more calories.

You can also add some lunge walking and side step jogging to you speed walking to and from the nursery. With 20 minutes there and back, you would have done a good cardio session, with added resistance, so all you need is a core and flexibility element which you can do for 10 minutes before you go to bed.

Remember, the stronger the core and the more supple the muscle, the more effective your cardio and resistance training will be.

I had a c-section eight weeks ago. When can I start exercising again?

Susan Yu: General rule is ten weeks, but if you are unsure, ask your doctor before you start any exercise. I had an emergency c- section, so I know how weak you can feel after one. Again, patience is key. You have to understand a c-section cuts right through all your deep core muscles so it takes time. I had my baby eight months ago, my core is still not back to normal – and I work in fitness. Start with gentle stretching as this will help the scar tissue heal and be less bumpy, as it helps align the collagen in the healing process.

Also start with gentle core exercises to rehabilitate your core, and help your body remember how to use the muscle. Cardio is always good, but do not worry if you are not as strong or as fast as you were before. It is normal.

What’s the quickest way to lose body fat? And I’m working out for 20 minutes every day, how soon until I start seeing results?

Susan Yu: Your body changes a lot after you have a baby, regardless of how fit you were before and during your pregnancy. So give yourself time. I usually have a general rule, if it takes nine months to put it on, then give yourself at least nine months to take it off. But can take up to two years to get back to your pre-pregnancy state.

If you are wanting the best results, your work out should consist of 25 per cent cardio, 25 per cent resistance training and 50 per cent core and flexibility.

I know I should be doing my pelvic floor, but I'm really struggling to identify the right way to do it. I don't ever know if I'm doing it right. What are your tips?

Susan Yu: It’s a little cheeky, but try this. Pretend your bladder is full and you are holding it in until you find a toilet. It should feel like you’re holding a full bladder.

You should also be patient when strengthen your pelvic floor, it does take time, so be easy on yourself. You just had a baby after all!

This week we’re launching some InstructorLive classes on the website – so keep an eye out for them!

Which topics would you like covered in M&B’s Wednesday Lunch Clubs? Let us know in the comments box below. 

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