Once you've had a baby, it's hard to find time to wash your hair, never mind work out - but it is possible and it is worth doing.
"Getting back into fitness will give new mums more energy throughout the day and provide them with that extra push to get out of bed at 3am for baby's night-time snack," explains Nagham Abulaila, a pre- and post-natal fitness specialist and the managing director of Fit 4 Two (www.fit4two.ae).
"Exercising post-partum will also help improve posture, strengthen core and pelvic floor muscles and reduce aches and pains. Most babies double their birth weight in the first two to four months, so mums will need to strengthen their biceps and back muscles simply to carry their baby around."
Workout with your baby
Aside from the physical benefits, post-natal fitness classes are a great way to meet other mums and bring a bit of routine back into your week. So, where to go? The mum and baby class held in Haddins, at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi, is a gentle session perfect for new mums which includes cardiovascular, resistance, core strength and flexibility exercises to help get your body back in shape after giving birth. Make sure you bring your pushchair as you'll need it for some of the routines. Classes cost Dh60 for 45-55 minutes.
Across Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Fit 4 Two also runs mum and baby fitness classes. Each class provides a full-body workout and post-natal core work with a focus on flexibility. The 60-minute class is followed by a 15-minute post-natal nutrition session.
If you want to focus specifically on your mid-region, try out the 30-minute Tummies 4 Mummies classes, designed to strengthen your pelvic floor and other core muscles. Or if you prefer to be on the move, try Stroller Fitness which gives you a full-body workout while your baby watches and admires. Fit 4 Two classes cost around Dh75.
For those still with a bump, there are prenatal fitness classes available in Abu Dhabi, such as the Prenatal Fusion Workout which involves 45 minutes of Yoga Natal followed by 45 minutes of Aqua Natal (Dh160). See www.letsgoyogame.com for more information. Or plunge into the Abu Dhabi Golf Club pool for an aqua-natal class (Dh100, www.adgolfclub.com).
Going it alone
If you'd prefer to have an audience of one (ie your baby) when you work out, you can always exercise in your own home. Check out the DVD by Gwyneth Paltrow's and Shakira's personal trainer, The Tracy Anderson Method Presents Post-Pregnancy Workout, or try Lindsay Brin's Moms Into Fitness free app, which is available for iPhone and Android. Alternatively, download exercise videos directly onto your phone from www.momsintofitness.com.
For a selection of specific workouts, such as those suitable for post-abdominal surgery, specific exercises you can do with your baby, pelvic floor exercises and post-natal yoga, search under the relevant key word at youtube.com
"Keep in mind that you will have better fitness days than others," says Abulaila. "Having appropriate goals can help you stay on track, which means that fitting into the jeans you wore when you were 19 may not be as important as feeling strong, energised, healthy and fit for you and your family."
Make time for yourself with date nights or a massage
"With all the different roles you end up playing as a mother, it's easy to lose sight of yourself, so it's important to take some steps to retain something of who you were pre-baby," says Banan Hadidi, a professional development coach in Dubai (www.authenticity.ae). "Make sure you ask for support from your husband or your friends so you can have some 'me-time'."
Deepti Bhatia, a holistic health coach and the creator of Generation Nourished (www.generationnourished.com), based in Dubai, offers the following tips for new mums.
1. Schedule some date nights with your husband where the focus and topic of conversation is not only about your baby. With a newborn in the house, it is common for husbands to feel left out. Use this date to get back in touch with each other.
2. Steal at least 20 minutes a day for yourself. Take a hot soak, get some sun and vitamin D, go for a coffee, or call a friend who is nurturing and supportive.
3. Have a massage. Traditionally in Asian cultures, it is not uncommon for a mother to receive massage for 21 to 40 days after the birth of her child. If this is not possible, find a way to schedule in a massage at least once every couple of weeks to ensure you get a chance to relax.
4. Go easy on yourself. A mother is doing a disservice to herself, her child and her family if she doesn't let herself off the hook sometimes. It really does take a village to raise a child and the more supported the mother is, the happier she is - and in turn the happier her child will be.
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