It’s enough to drive a new mum up the wall. It seems as if everywhere you look there are photos of celebrity mothers who not only got their bodies back almost as soon as their babies were born, but look better than ever. You just need to look at Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Madonna to feel the pang of new mum envy.
Of course, most new mums don’t have access to celebrity perks like personal trainers, chefs, and nannies to watch the children. Indeed, most feel lucky to get five minutes to themselves, let alone take the time for regular workouts.
Enter pushchair fitness, a type of postnatal workout that’s getting new mums out of the house and walking back to fitness and which has the added advantage of being free of child care costs because your baby comes with you – in its pram..
However, don’t be deceived, pushchair fitness is more than just a walk in the park. Classes are usually an hour long and involve power walking in an open space or parkland along with a qualified instructor. Along the way there will be a number of stops to carry out specific post natal exercises, maybe press ups or sit ups. All you need to take part are comfortable (sometimes waterproof!) clothes and shoes and a working buggy.
Emma Redding came up with the Buggyfit programme after the birth of her first child in 2002 when she couldn’t find a suitable exercise class in her area. She became a member of The Guild of Postnatal Exercise Teachers and researched safe and effective workouts for new mums. The Buggyfit programme is available nationwide.
Pushy Mothers also have a Buggy Workout which emphasises pushing, not rushing. Pushy Mothers believe it takes nine months to make a baby and it will take most women, doing exercise and eating healthily, at least that time to get back on track.
Emma agrees. She says some new mums will never have exercised others are desperate to get back to full gym workouts but it’s important to learn to walk again, to concentrate on core strength, posture and pelvic exercises before you try anything more strenuous.
One of the common concerns about bringing your baby to an exercise class is what to do if it cries but Emma says its rare for a baby to completely disrupt a class and often the movement of the buggy and seeing mummy doing strange movements is enough to keep a new baby quiet. In the worst case scenario the class can be adapted to make time for a mother to take care of her baby.
You can join classes after your six week postnatal check (eight to ten weeks after a caesarean) and some classes will want a GP’s letter saying it’s OK for you to take part..
Burning post-baby fat
While programmes differ slightly, most will be concentrating on core strength and posture, as well as building cardiovascular endurance (perfect for chasing toddlers), burning post-baby fat, and improving flexibility.
More than just exercise
Although most mums join pushchair programmes for the exercise, many stay for the social benefits, especially the camaraderie that builds up among participants. Pushy Mothers says it wants to provide safe and specific exercise information that mums can trust but also change attitudes, celebrate motherhood and empower women to respect their post baby bodies.
Most pushchair workouts are similar but there are differences. Some offer classes indoors as well as out and it’s important to find the one that best suits you and fits in with your baby’s schedule.
Lots of health centres/gyms offer postnatal exercise classes to which you can bring your baby. It’s not uncommon to see women exercising in a gym whilst along the walls are pushchairs or car seats with their new addition/s in…
Many programmes require instructors to complete a certifying course that trains them to coach new mums.
Experts say, it’s a good idea to check the credentials of the instructors in your particular group before joining.