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Pushing your baby in their pram may seem like a relatively simple task, however, many mothers are potentially contributing to injury on a daily basis in the way that they are pushing their little one/s around in their prams. If you compare this to doing exercise using bad technique you know that over time other muscles will compensate and you are more than likely to get aches and pains from the repeated movements.

Incorrect buggy pushing

Rule 1: No creases in your wrists
Next time you are pushing your pram just glance down at your wrists - do you see any creases? If you do you will also see your hand sitting at an angle anywhere between 45-90 degrees from you wrist - this is putting constant pressure on your wrist joint especially when you add load (pushing up hill or a second child in a double pram). Adjust your wrist so that there is a straight line running from your arm down to knuckles - you will notice that that the creases at your wrist now disappear. Keep glancing down and checking for those creases and feel the tension ease from your wrist joints.

Rule 2: Keep your hips near the handle bar
Lower Back Pain is a common complaint in many new (and not so new) mums. The head down, bum out, bending over position many mothers take when pushing a heavy pram uphill is huge in contributing toward lower back ache. The Solution is to keep your hips close to the handle of your pram when you are pushing your baby uphill. Next time you are pushing your pram uphill then stay standing tall, aim to keep your hips relatively close to your pram and find your glutes! Take big strides up the hill and drive through the bum to propel you up the hill. You should start to feel your glutes working when walking like this. Your back should hurt less AND you'll be getting a much better workout.

Rule 3 - chest up shoulders down
A lot of tension is held in our neck, upper back and shoulders when we are tired, stressed and looking after little people that need our constant care and attention. We often walk around with our shoulders by our ears and don't even realise it - add to this a handle bar of the wrong height and you will surely exasperate the problem. Next time you are out for a walk stand upright next to your pram - make sure your chest is up and shoulders are down, allow your hands to rest on the handle and see how you feel. If you adjusted it down a few inches would it take some pressure off your upper body and allow you to maintain that chest up, shoulders down position more comfortably? As a general rule your hands should be a little above hip height.

Correct buggy pushing

These may seem like pretty simple things to implement - and they are BUT they might just change the way you are moving on a daily basis and help to relieve some of those aches and pains that don't have to go hand in hand with motherhood.

At Mama on the Move you will never read anything about how doing our programmes will make you “bounce back” to your pre baby body, how following our programmes will get you “beach body ready” or any of that rubbish. Because, quite honestly that is NOT what we are about. Yes, you will lose weight following our postnatal programmes and nutrition guidelines BUT you will also feel stronger, healthier and fitter during your pregnancy and in the postnatal period and THAT is more important than focusing on the weight loss. In our opinion. So if a “body shred” (what does that even mean!?) or a “bikini body programme” (we fully support the – have a body, wear a bikini approach) is your thing, then you won’t find it here….. Mainly because most of those types of training are NOT suitable for someone who has just had a baby and can do more harm than good..

However before you dismiss us, I’d like to talk you through our postnatal programme and what it IS about:

  • Holistic, SAFE Postnatal Pilates AND Fitness programmes that will help you recover from the birth of your baby and start to strengthen your core and pelvic floor, work on your alignment and posture and are also diastasis recti (tummy separation safe)
  • Don’t be fooled into thinking the above programmes will be easy because they are postnatally safe and low impact….. they will absolutely challenge you whatever your fitness level and you can make them harder or easier by changing the repetitions and sets… they are also all suitable to be done in the comfort of your own home or garden as they don’t require equipment.
  • Healthy snacks and recipes and meal planners suitable for breastfeeding mothers

I’m aware that as co-founder of Mama on the Move my review of the programmes is slightly biased(!) however, I just wanted to share with you my personal postnatal fitness and weight loss journey after having my 3rd child in late September last year.

I started the Strength and Fitness programmes around 6 weeks postnatally, prior to that I had been walking a lot (my daughters are at school so school runs were compulsory!) and following the Pilates programme such as activating my TVA and pelvic floor – pelvic tilts, leg slides, and focusing on my breathing – which I found really helpful in re-connecting with my core.

As a personal trainer and fitness professional, I don’t mind telling you I felt incredibly weak when I first started the strength programmes and although they looked “easy” on paper, they really challenged me and I felt the effects the next few days! But in a good way! Like I had woken up my muscles! I found the programmes great to fit around when my baby was sleeping as they are pretty short – 20-30 minutes maximum. I would often do the school run in the morning and then come back and do a workout so it was done for the day before the endless feeding and changing would take-over!

I didn’t really feel my strength returning until around 3 months postnatally, by 4 months I was feeling much more like my old self. The photo is taken at 4 ½ months postnatally and whilst I never weigh myself, I am back into my pre pregnancy clothes comfortably although not as toned as I was… but that’s ok! It’s still early days! I did NOT follow any restrictive silly diet, I did eat healthily and followed the nutritional guidelines on the programme.

I’m now back doing more high intensity training as I am feeling strong, I have good core and pelvic floor function and I know how to exercise safely. I still do the Mama on the Move programmes, they are still challenging – I just increase the reps!

Clients often ask how long it takes to get back to their pre pregnancy weight and fitness and the answer is it’s just so different for everyone. It really depends on how active you were in pregnancy, how much weight you put on, what you pregnancy and birth were like and how well you have recovered from it. For some, they may lose weight and be fit and active again relatively quickly, for others it may take much longer. It’s important not to put any pressure on yourself, to focus on healing from the birth, address any issues such as disastais recti and pelvic floor problems by seeing a women’s health physio and just enjoy your gorgeous new bundle. When the time is ready and you want to start to safely working on restoring you core and building up your fitness again then check out Mama on the Move’s online postnatal programme (they are low impact and DR and pelvic floor safe!)

Laura x

While I was having coffee and <ahem> eating cake with my lovely Pregnancy Pilates group the other day we were discussing the subject of the “mum bum”. How during or post pregnancy many of us find that our bottoms feel rather soft and lacking in muscle tone! It’s expected to have a squishy tummy post baby but the bottom too?! Why is this? Well, during pregnancy your centre of gravity shifts and as a result, many women try to counterbalance that shift by tucking their tailbone.  This means that you end up underusing your glute muscles and overusing the posterior pelvic floor muscles. This results in a flattened backside that can’t fill up or hold up a pair of jeans.

While it might seem a bit odd, the next time you are with your mum friends... check out their derrieres (surreptitiously of course!) – what do you see?  Chances are you will see a lot of flat bums, flat backs and jeans that are continuously being pulled up. The ‘mum bum’ epidemic is out of control; if you want to avoid it then read on for some advice and exercises to help keep your bottom bootylicious, and, as an added benefit your pelvic floor will thank you too!

1.Sit Less

Sitting does nothing to build the glutes and everything to make your bum as flat as a pancake. This is tricky in the early postnatal weeks as we are often glued to the sofa feeding our little ones. However, in between those feeds minimizing the amount of time spent sitting is critical to maintaining a healthy backside!

  1. Walk

One of the best exercises out there is walking, and something that all new mums and mums to be can and should do as often as possible. It is a low impact form of exercise, so kind to the pelvic floor as well as a good way of getting the endorphins flowing. Hill walking is particularly beneficial, as when you add in the incline of a hill, it really blasts those glutes into high gear along with elevating your heart rate.

  1. Glute Bridges

The simple route to a perfect posterior is to master the glute bridge.  As well as helping your bum look fabulous this exercise will also help improve your hip flexibility and mobility. To increase the challenge, try raising one leg off the ground and keeping it steady as you bridge, or move both feet on top of a table or box.

Action

  1. Lie on your back on an exercise mat or the floor in a bent-knee position with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place your feet hip-width apart with the toes facing away from you. Gently contract your abdominal muscles to flatten your low back into the floor. Attempt to maintain this TVA activation throughout the exercise.
  3. Gently exhale. Keep the abdominals engaged and lift your hips up off the floor. Press your heels into the floor for added stability.
  4. Inhale and slowly lower yourself back to your starting position.

Watch points: Avoid pushing your hips too high, which can cause hyperextension (arching) in your low back. Keeping your abdominals strong helps to prevent excessive arching in the low back.

During pregnancy you should be cautious if you choose to exercise while lying on your back due to supine hypotensive syndrome, particularly after 16 weeks. Exercise on the back for short durations only and watch out for feelings of dizziness. If you experience dizziness, stop exercising immediately.

 

  1. Squats

Squatting is a great bum builder and is also a functional movement as you will be always bending down to pick up the little ones or the paraphernalia that comes with motherhood. Squatting can be done (and should be done) during pregnancy and within a few weeks postnatally.  The range of motion can be modified but you want to aim for a nice deep squat with the tailbone un-tucked and your pelvis in neutral (keeping the small curve in your low back). Squats are one of my favourite exercises and there are many variations that can be done to keep things interesting.

Action

  1. Stand with feet slightly wider than hips. Keep your back straight, with your neutral spine, and your chest and shoulders up. Keep looking straight ahead
  2. Toes should be slightly pointed outwards and engage your core by sucking your tummy button into your spine to work your transverse abdominals. (The girdle that holds everything in your abdominals together.)
  3. Slowly bend your knees and lower yourself to the ground as if to sit in a chair position – pushing your bottom back and down. As you squat down, focus on keeping your knees in line with your feet.
  4. Stop when your thighs are parallel with the floor.
  5. Push back up through your heels, exhaling at the same time.

Watch points:

Inhale when lowering body, exhae when pushing back up. Keep your toes pointed forward. Don't allow your chest to drop and sink onto the tops of your thighs.

During pregnancy there are times though when squats are not beneficial. You should avoid squatting when baby is not in an optimal position after 30 weeks, as squats help descend a baby deeper down into the pelvis. If there is any pain when you perform a squat then you may need to have your technique assessed to correct your form or you can choose from different variations to reduce any discomfort. There are some scenarios when you don’t want to induce early labour, a couple of examples might be Vasa Previa and multiple pregnancies under 35 weeks.

 

  1. The Oyster

The oyster helps to open up the hip joint, as well as strengthening the glutes and stabilising your pelvis. The opening and closing of the leg are also a great way of working your pelvic floor muscles.

Action

  1. Lie on your right side with your shoulders and hips aligned on top of each other. If you are pregnancy you may wish to use a pillow under your head and bump for comfort.
  2. Place your left hand on the mat in front of you and bend both knees so that your heels are in a line with the back of your pelvis.
  3. Inhale to prepare and then exhale and keeping the feet connected lift up your top knee. Keep the pelvis still and stable and move from the hip joint.
  4. Inhale and control the leg back to the start position.

Watch Points

Only open the top leg as far as you can whilst keeping the pelvis still. Keep your core engaged and your waist lifted off the mat throughout the exercise. Try and place as little pressure through the top arm as possible

  1. The Glute Pulse

This exercise focuses on building strength in the glutes and hamstrings. Completing the move in four point position will also challenge the core muscles as you work to keep the torso stabilised and the spine in neutral against the movement of your leg.

Action

  1. Start in four point kneeling position with wrists under shoulders and knees under hip joints.
  2. Inhale to prepare. Then exhale and keeping the core muscles engaged, slowly lift the left leg.
  3. Your knee should stay bent as you press your foot up toward the ceiling.
  4. Inhale and lower the leg back to start position.

Watch Points

Keep your spine in neutral by engaging your core muscles, and avoid rotating your hip s by keeping the shoulders and hips squared to the floor during the entire exercise.

We've created some short tabata workouts to get those glutes working:

Pregnancy:

Postnatal:

Hello ladies,

I hope you are all well and the year has started in good spirits for you. It has been one month since I made a public pledge to make time for me. "How is that going?" I hear you cry, well let me tell you while I sit here eating my personal stash of 'after the kids have gone to bed chocolate covered peanuts'. I know, probably not the best way to set myself up to write about exercise and healthy living, but we are all living in the real world here and a mum has to do what a mum has to do.

So other than the indulgent peanuts, I thought it was time to let you know how I have been getting on with the postnatal Mama on the Move programme. In short, OK.

I have to be honest and tell you that I had every intention of doing at least either the Pilates or strengthening programme three times a week, but in reality I have only managed it about once or twice a week alongside any crèche time I can get at the gym on Mondays and Fridays. I have managed it a few times at home, but usually have to have “help” from the little’uns.

The first time I set myself up to follow the routines set out in phase one, I got myself in a pickle. I wasn't entirely sure how to do each exercise or how to breathe, so it was a case of going back to the instruction sheets and videos to check my technique, then rechecking how many reps to do. But I put that session down to a trial session, and got ready for my first "real" go at it.

So there I was ready to do both the Pilates and strengthening sessions and prove to myself that I could find 45 minutes to myself in my house with children around. Things started off so well, I was flying through the strengthening programme and it only took 15/20 minutes to do. Great, let's crack on and do the Pilates. Oh no wait, the littlest little has woken up from her nap and needs a feed, there is no chance I will get to come back, because that is how it goes and there is no point getting het up trying to force these things. Our babies are only babies for a short time, so let’s not miss it by focussing in the wrong places and I was very happy to have done the strengthening work out.

I have to admit, I was feeling a little bit smug with myself afterwards, not only did I get to actually do it, but I didn't think it was that hard, so I must be in much better shape than I thought I was. That was until the next day when it hurt to sit down! I could not work out for the life of me why my body ached so much. It was like I had done a full day of HIIT. It took a little while to work out it was due to those innocent 20 minutes. So hats off to Laura and Tamsin for creating that combination of exercises. It took me about three days to stop whincing every time I moved. Even my little boy offered to rub my shoulders (with his pirate sword, but the thought was there)!

Not fazed by this, I went for it again a few days later and it was a bit easier. Only this time, I had my two gym assistants supervising. I say supervising, but what I actually mean is sitting on me when I was doing the bridge work, demanding I do it again and again and again… as well as laughing when I was doing some of the squat work. It took a lot of persuading to stop Oli sitting on my lap while I was doing the wall squat! I have now started fitting in at least one of the routines after my gym classes when I have time. That way I can be safe in the knowledge I can get it done properly, without being the in-house entertainment. Although I have to admit, it made me smile and spurred me on.

Last week, I promoted myself to the next phase and completed it straight after a circuit class. I avoided repeating any of the exercises we had covered in the class. I really enjoyed it and even managed to complete most of the Pilates session too.

The programme comes with recipe suggestions, which I am sure don't include chocolate covered peanuts, and I am going to start dabbling in the kitchen. My first attempt to create a culinary delight will be a chocolate ice cream made with bananas. Go figure!

I have to admit there have been a couple of side effects of this programme and that is the reigniting my desire to start running again. I say running, I really mean jogging! So I have got as far as downloading a Couch to 5K app and opening it. I just need to get my jogging shoes on and give it a go.

In my last post here, I made a promise to make more time for me and I have been trying keep this promise bit by bit. Not only am I committed to following this programme, I am also making time to get back into my amateur hobbies and tick off my biggest project of late which was to make a memory bear with my boys baby clothes and to weight it to his birth weight. Big by importance, not size, it felt like such an achievement, and an unexpected bonus is that there are a few people who would like me to make the same for them. That is very exciting and has really inspired me. My next task is to make a prate waistcoat for my pirate obsessed boy and re-cover his little armchair. I am sure that will be the beginning of many fancy dress outfits I will need to create over the years.

Anyway, my next steps with the programme is to keep going with phase two for a couple of weeks and then promote myself again. I will also get on with the C25K and report back on progress. I am also going to have to start fitting work in as I start my keeping in touch days this week. I can't quite believe the last six months have gone already but here I am ready for the next chapter in my book.

Carole x

Depression in pregnancy is perhaps less widely talked about as postnatal depression. I suffered from antenatal depression during my second pregnancy, having not fully recovered or been treated from the PND I had with my first daughter. Added to that I was terrified of giving birth again, so I suffered from extreme anxiety about what lay ahead.

Pregnancy is obviously a time of HUGE physical change and many clients come to me in pregnancy because they want to maintain some sort of “control” over their changing bodies. By continuing to exercise they can feel empowered and physically stronger and as a result hopefully suffer less of the nasty pregnancy niggles such as fatigue, poor posture, back ache, weakened pelvic floor muscles and excessive abdominal separation. Exercise also better equips mums for labour and birth. I personally found maintaining my exercise routine during pregnancy helped alleviate the depression. Although it is not a magic cure, it can be hugely beneficial both for your mental health AND physical well-being.

Tips on Exercising to help Ante-natal Depression

  1. Walk as much as you can in pregnancy – it really is one of the best and safest forms of exercise – getting out and about in the fresh air is great at lifting your mood naturally.
  2. Some exercise classes and gym work ARE safe for you to continue taking part in during your pregnancy. If you have been doing classes for a while, you don’t have to stop as soon as you get pregnant! Always tell your instructor you are pregnant though. For more tips on exercising in pregnancy, see our blog on the benefits of exercising in pregnancy and also our online pregnancy programme has details on how to continue to attend your favourite exercise classes but with little tweaks here and there to accommodate your growing bump safely.
  3. A pregnancy Pilates or Yoga class can be very beneficial as both concentrate on the breathing and relaxation techniques which can help you feel more calm and focused. There is also “mindfulness” linked to these forms of exercises where you can “switch off” and be in the moment which has been shown to help alleviate feelings of depression. Plus you get to meet other expectant mums, great if you are feeling a little lonely or isolated in your pregnancy.
  4. Try our safe and effective pregnancy Fitness and Pilates programmes – they can be done in your own home/garden or at your gym. It means you can keep up your exercise but secure in the knowledge the exercises you are doing are safe for your stage of pregnancy. We also have lots of great healthy recipes for you to try too.

If you are experiencing depression in pregnancy then please seek the help you need. Speak to your family and friends and your doctor or midwife. You can also contact ante/post natal depression charities/helplines for further advice. If you have experienced a traumatic first birth and you are worried about subsequent births like I was, then counselling can really help. Find a counsellor or organisation that specialises in dealing with these issues.

  • For those Bristol based Bluebell Care is a fabulous charity working with those suffering from depression in pregnancy and postnatally. http://www.bluebellcare.org/ - it also has useful links to other organisations that can help.
  • The Samaritans - http://www.samaritans.org
  • Mind helplines - http://www.mind.org.uk/help/advice_lines

Women are increasingly aware that exercising during pregnancy has a huge range of benefits for both mum and baby. Although I exercised throughout my first 2 pregnancies, I still suffered with the back pain that most pregnant women get. During my most recent 3rd pregnancy I practiced Pilates regularly and as a result I was amazed that I didn't experience ANY back pain - my core was much stronger and I can honestly say it was my easiest pregnancy.

Pilates focuses on training the core abdominal, pelvic floor and back muscles (see our blog about them here), which are all important for good posture, balance and strength. As a result it can help prevent a number of common problems associated with pregnancy.

Here are 6 reasons why you should consider practicing Pilates during your pregnancy:

  1. Pilates can reduce pelvic girdle pain.

The pelvic girdle is a ring of bones at the base of your spine connected by strong ligaments. Hormones released during pregnancy soften these ligaments increasing their elasticity. This helps the pelvis to expand during labour, but for some women it can sometimes result in severe pain in the pelvic area. Pilates strengthens your pelvic floor, stomach, back and hip muscles. This takes the pressure off your joints, which may help to reduce pelvic girdle pain.

 

  1. Pilates helps to decrease back pain.

A recent study suggested that over 68% of women suffer from back pain during pregnancy. One of the biggest changes during pregnancy is in your posture as your baby grows. Common changes include a rounding of the upper spine due to the increased weight of the beasts and either a forward or backward tilt in the lower spine. This shift in your posture can increase tension in the muscles, which may in turn lead to back pain. Pilates can help with this by improving your postural awareness, muscular control and core strength.

 

  1. Pilates may help prevent a diastasis recti

During pregnancy your outer stomach muscles, the rectus abdominus, divides along the central line, the linea alba so that the uterus can grow. The divide will usually close again after birth. However, in some cases it will not improve which can lead to that hard to shift ‘mummy tummy’. Pilates focuses on strengthening the deepest stomach muscle, the transverse abdominis, which will help relieve pressure on the linea alba and prevent the divide from becoming too wide.

 

  1. Pilates strengthens your pelvic floor.

As the weight of the baby increases it puts pressure on the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles support all the pelvic contents, uterus, bladder and bowels so pregnancy can commonly lead to pelvic floor problems including incontinence and prolapse. Pilates enables you to connect with your pelvic floor so that you can improve the tone and function of these muscles, helping prevent the dreaded ‘sneeze pee’.

 

  1. Pilates can help you have an easier labour and delivery

The transverse abdominis is one of the main muscles that is involved in the delivery of your baby. During labour it compresses the stomach and helps you push more effectively. Pilates also encourages deep lateral thoracic breathing and a connection between mind and body, which may help you relax(!) during labour.

 

 

  1. Pilates helps with balance

As your baby increases in size your center of gravity changes, which may make you feel clumsier. Pilates strengthens the deep core muscles that help stabilize you so that you can feel more secure.

If these reasons have inspired you to practice Pilates then check out our Mama on the Move pregnancy programmes, which include 5 different Pilates workouts, suitable for the various stages of pregnancy.

 

Laura x