I remember very clearly a disastrous and very teary Saturday morning when my baby was just a couple of months old and I was determined to get to a special yoga class for postnatal mums, but a hungry baby had me running behind schedule and when I arrived late for class the receptionist wouldn’t let me in. I fought back tears as I walked out the door but ended up bawling all the way home in the car at the injustice of being rejected – how could they be so insensitive to a hormonal post partum new mother?, I thought – and also the realisation that maybe I wasn’t quite ready to leave my baby alone for a few hours. I would be in time, but not quite yet.
I never went back to that class and instead tried to seek out some other way of getting a bit of “me time”, some much needed exercise and also meeting the needs of my baby. A few months later, a new Pilates studio opened up near me and I was delighted when I discovered they offered postnatal Pilates classes where you could bring your baby along and let them sleep or kick along beside you while you got in a seriously good workout.
The owner of Reform Pilates, Anna Frankland, is a mother of twins herself and understands the importance of being able to easily exercise without having the extra burden of having to factor in childcare. Also aware that not everyone has access to a class or is even ready to go along to a class, Anna has developed a postnatal Pilates App for mums to use whenever and wherever they like to help them get back in shape and also get some well deserved “me time”.
The App is divided into three sections. “My Body” covers questions you might have before you get started. “Workouts” brings you into the structured programmes to follow and finally, there’s an A to Z of all exercises at the end if you wanted to try them individually rather than going through a specific workout.
There are three workouts to choose from:
1. Babybelly (& Bum), a quick workout to strengthen deep tummy muscles, pelvic floor and bum (15 minutes long)
2. Adore Your Core, a quick workout to strengthen deep tummy muscles, lower back and pelvic floor (15 minutes long)
3. My PreBabyBody, a full workout to get your pre baby body back. (20 minutes long)
Each of the three workouts has a gentler “new mum” version for women who are 0-3 months post partum and a stronger version once you’re 3 months plus.
I tried the Babybelly (& Bum) 15 minute workout for new mums first as a starter. When you select this workout, it displays 11 exercises in order and lets you know how many repetitions you should do. From there, you can follow the exercises in two ways – either tap on each exercise and follow the step by step images, or select the video button in the top right hand corner and you can watch short videos of each exercise as you work through them. I found the step by step images easy to follow but I’m a visual learner so watching the videos really brought the instructions to life for me, especially being able to watch the flow of the exercise. There’s also an option at the top of each workout to “play all” so you can run straight through the exercises one after the other.
Working my way through all of the exercises, I quickly realised that this is a proper workout for new mums rather than paying lip service to it. When the 15 minutes were up, it did feel like I had engaged and really connected with my ab muscles and pelvic floor. I also felt a good stretch in my bum and upper thighs. I can see how this would be a great introductory workout for a woman who has recently had a baby and is ready to start exercising and toning again. It’s not strenuous or over-exerting in any way but it’s just enough to help you on the road to getting your body confidence back. The pelvic tilts also ease you gently into getting the tone back into your pelvic floor. Anyone who has already had a baby knows that feeling of trying to engage their pelvic floor muscles in the first couple of weeks and it feels like there’s nothing happening there at all!
The instructions are easy to follow and I was able to pop my iPhone on the floor beside me and just tap the screen to move along to the next exercise. Your baby could easily be lying beside you while you completed this workout or you could grab 15 minutes while they were sleeping.
I jumped to the My PreBaby Body workout at the end next just to compare. I’ve been doing Pilates for quite some time now and I’m no slouch, even if I do say so myself, so I was keen to see how challenging it would be! This is an excellent 20 minute workout for mums who are tight on time but are keen to give their body a good conditioning. This workout has 17 exercises in total and after completing the full workout, I certainly felt like I had given all of my main muscle groups a good going over. This is definitely one to work up to and a nice challenge to achieve. I think if you were doing this workout maybe 3 times a week, you’d definitely see and feel results, particularly in your core area.
There are three versions of the Reform Postnatal Pilates App. You can buy just the three new mum workouts for women who have had a baby within the last 0 – 3 months for €4.49 or just the post-3 months workouts for the same price. The full version of the App with all of the workouts costs €7.99. This is a lot for an App but given what you get for your money, I think it is well worth it. When you consider a Pilates class can cost you anywhere between €10 and €20 a week, this App allows you to have a comparable short workout in your own home, whenever it suits you and your baby and as often or as little as you like.
The other thing to bear in mind is the benefit to your pelvic floor of regular Pilates practice. I don’t think you can underestimate the importance of strengthening your pelvic floor after growing and carrying a baby for nine months. The preventive life long positive impact it can have on subsequent pregnancies, incontinence and your sex life is immeasurable. Just take a quick bounce on a kid’s trampoline or have a particularly strong sneeze with a weak pelvic floor and you’ll get an idea of what I’m talking about!
I think if this App had been around when my baby was born, it would have really met my needs of wanting to start getting my body back but not being quite ready to leave him yet. I think it also would have helped me take the pressure off myself to be back “out there” after a baby. I could have taken things at my own pace and in my own time. I’d highly recommend this to new mums. It’s definitely worth the investment.