How to regain your figure and strengthen your body postpartum from home with hula hoop
Reclaim your body after birth – Mom’s health is crucial to your babies health, both physically AND mentally. Part of feeling mentally healthy, is to feel at ease with your body. Which is pretty challenging if you just had a baby that you want to care for, while looking down at yourself thinking: wow, is this really me? This article aims to help all of you new moms to regain your figure and strengthen your body postpartum from the comfort of your own home.
Everybody and every body is different, and so is the time it takes to recover from giving birth and shedding the weight we put on during the pregnancy and regaining physical strength. For instance, I had gained a whopping 46 pounds/21 kilogramms, which meant that I added one third of my original weight to the scale. And while I lost most of this extra weight within the first 3 months after the birth, it was still a long journey to bring my body back to its initial, pre-preggo state.
While we all constantly hear that it takes time to reclaim your body after birth, it’s still a process that you need to trust and getting used to the new you. Most importantl: mom’s health. This means to strengthen your body postpartum in a gentle manner, should be your priority.
Hula hoop: An fun tool to reclaim your body after birth
One of the most effective and fun ways of redefining your waistline and strengthen your body postpartum is hula hoop. Not the simple hula hoop we used as kids, but a weighted fitness hula hoop. The amazing thing about it: 10-15 minutes per day is enough. So no matter how stressful life with a newborn gets, you will most likely be able to find at least this bit time for it. This will help you reclaim your body after birth in a fun AND effective way.
Retrain your pelvic muscle
The best benefit of hula hoop is the effect it has on strengthening and training your pelvic muscle. Not just the pelvic floor (which most people focus on if they pay attention to excersising that part of their body), but the entire pelvic muscle area, which is actually a quite large muscle influencing almost all parts of our lower upper body, such as our back, our organs, digestion, core etc. This part of your body that has been experiencing the most stress, stretching, tearing and overall pressure of all muscles during pregnancy. Yet, a strong pelvic muscle is quintessential to so many aspects of our well being.
Why hula hoop is great to strengthen your body postpartum
A lot of people find it challenging to consciously activate their pelvic muscle area and particularily the pelvic muscle floor. This is why hula hoop is so great, because you subconsciously tighten and activate the entire pelvic muscle area in order to move the hula hoop around your waist. Thereby you tense the pelvic muscle naturally and thus strengthen and train that area over time. Such a powerful way to reclaim your body after birth.
The pelvic muscle is so hard to flex at will yet quite susceptible to training, you will already feel the physical effect from using the hula hoop by just doing it for 10-15 minutes in the beginning. I love this especially, because you can do it from the comfort of your home and when your schedule allows for it. It really is so important, if you want to reclaim your body after birth, rebuild and strengthen your body postpartum.
The second great benefit: it strengthens and trains your inner abdominal muscles and works on the exact part of your body that has been most affected by the pregnancy. The hoop exercise works on your inner core and thus gifts you with a nicely trained middle. After all, fit is the new skinny! Besides and actually more important than being skinny, is being strong.
How to approach hula hoop to strengthen your body postpartum
I already worked with a fitness hula hoop 2-3 times a week before the pregnancy, in addition to my gym workouts, and I can only wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone and every mom as an awesome way to strengthen and trim your core.
This is the hula hoop I am using. It comes with 3 different weight options. Besides the added weight, it also has a wave design, so while spinning the ring also massages the love handles in your middle to trigger fat-burning in that area, by increasing the blood flow. Make sure that you only start this, if your doctor gives you the okay to work on your abs again, otherwise you could do yourself more harm than good.
I started using the hula hoop 4 weeks after birth after I had already re-started my yoga routine and had to “go ahead” from my midwife. In the first week, I did between 5 to 10 minutes. That was all I could handle, in week 5 postpartum, I did extent it to 10-15 minutes. After 8 weeks I did 20 minutes and kept that up for a couple of month on a (mostly) daily basis.
I love the freedom the hula hoop gives you as there no time constraints, nothing is lost if your newborn suddenly demands your attention. That to me is one of the key difference to other workout routines that aim to support you to strengthen your body postpartum or train your pelvic muscle.
Hula hoop tutorial video
Do not get disheartened if it takes you a few attempts to get the hang of how to keep the hula hoop up. It’s not that you forgot all your skills from childhood (assuming you learned) or that your hips are too stiff, but merely that the added weight of the hula hoop requires a tad bit more training and muscle work to make it work. Click here for a great hula hoop tutorial video.
Additional ways to work with a hula hoop
Moms usually tend to get neck and shoulder pain from constantly lifting, shifting and holding a growing and not very cooperative baby. While, not the original purpose of a fitness hula hoop, but one simple yet amazing way to help you loosen up those stiff muscles and ease the pain is to hold the hula hoop in front of you like a giant steering wheel and twist and turn it for a couple of minutes as if you have to swiftly maneuver a large, heavy semi-truck through an obstacle course.
This is another great 5 minute excercise to release shoulder and neck tension. As you can see, a hula hoop is in fact a fun and versatile tool, not just to reclaim your body after birth and to strengthen your body postpartum, but also to help with other ailments.
Disclaimer: Keep this in mind for any postpartum excercise!
Before starting any type of postpartum workout with the aim to retrain or strengthen your body postpartum, ask your midwife or ob-gyn if it’s safe for you to start exercising or if there are any restrictions in your case. They need to check, if there is any diastasis recti. This is vitally important, otherwise any exercise you engage in (specifically one that trains your pelvic muscle) is actually doing your body more harm than good, especially in the long run and sometimes many years down the road. Basically it is all about making sure that the two abdominal muscles are reconnected.
Do not do any ab training before this split that’s created during pregnancy is closed. This can take anything between a couple of weeks or several month depending on your body – so there is no rule of thumb on how fast yours abdominal integration will happen. Give it the time it needs. After all, you want to strengthen your body postpartum, not weaken it further.
Just because a friend of yours took 5 month to recover, it might be still fine for you to restart after 3 weeks. Likewise: just because that one girl you know starting an ambitious workout regime two weeks after her baby was born and ran a marathon half a year later, doesn’t mean that you should or could. Focus on yourself and what feels and is best for you, you alone. Again every body is different, so check what applies in your case.