New mums are too busy being new mums, looking after their health and the health of their new babe, and attempting to catch up on sleep to be pondering the wherewithals of wearing a bikini again, but honestly? that’s not what getting in shape post-birth is all about. It’s about health – about tone, strength and recalibrating pelvic floor and abdominal fitness.
Author Lisa Westlake is a women’s health physiotherapist with over 20 years’ experience as a fitness instructor. She is a mother of two and has run pre- and postnatal fitness classes for a decade. She lectures at Monash and Melbourne universities and is a regular media presence on both radio and television but most importantly, Lisa has a passion for helping new mothers reap the benefits of safe and effective exercise – just when they need it most.
In her newest book, Mums Shape Up, Lisa offers a smaller format book (that will fit easily in a nappy bag) with over 100 exercises and programmes for mums of all fitness levels. Most vitally, Lisa first talks of Recovery from birth before a return to Fitness – something that can easily be skipped over in this insane, celebrity-driven whip-back-to-shape-in-six-weeks world.
Beginning the book with advice on exercising for two and preparing for labour, women will learn the importance of avoiding strain on joints, how to modify positions and intensity, and focus on strengthening the core. Post-birth, she talks of the labours that may delay a fast return to fitness, and how important it is to set realistic goals and time frames. Covering holistic topics such as fatigue, sleep, mood, energy levels and tips for breastfeeding, nutrition and happiness, Lisa appreciates and feeds the entire woman, not just her shrink-the-jelly-belly goals.
Part One of Mums Shape Up starts where matters – the pelvic floor – before moving on to the deeper abdominals and core, as well as posture and back health – something new mums certainly need to keep an eye on.
Part Two outlines the exercises suggested for an optimum return to fitness. Covering the gamut from mobility, core and pelvic floor training, stretching and cardiovascular routines, she also provides tips on regimes you can take outside the home, such as swimming, walking, cycling and the gym. Muscle tone and strength exercises are covered, all using little more than a set of hand weights and a yoga ball.
There’s even a section on exercising with baby, and one on stroller fitness that you can do out and about with friends and their prams.
Featuring gorgeous, full colour photos that clearly define each exercise, this is a beautifully-presented, breath-of-fresh-air book I wish was around when I had my own children many moons ago. Succinct yet well-detailed text provides instant access to the action, and a clearly-defined stage-by-stage index with thumbnail photos makes finding the ideal exercise super easy – perfect for brain-fried new mums.
On your next pram outing, grab this book and tuck it in your nappy bag. You’ll be out of those pregnancy jeans in no time. Bikini optional.