In the month of Mother’s Day, we’re starting a series of five articles on the MOVE blog that explores the training journey of our two amazing members, Annika and Ketter, during and after pregnancy. Through stories of their experience, we provide tips and tricks on how to exercise during pregnancy, resume training after giving birth, and how and when to find training opportunities with your baby.

Former athlete and teacher Annika
is supported by MyFitness personal trainer Monika Kahro, who has many years of experience as a personal trainer and nutritionist. Monika’s daughter is just over a year old; trainer managed to remain active and athletic during pregnancy, and to this day.

Musician Ketter is supported by MyFitness personal trainer Ethel Igatt, a mother of 4 with 24 years of coaching and 10 years of nutritional experience. Ethel has successfully supported many women who have sought to regain their former physical form after pregnancy and childbirth.

PART I: “How to find time to exercise with your baby?”

Annika, please describe your own experience of exercising while taking care of a small child.

I have been involved in competitive sports almost all my life, so before pregnancy I was already physically active and led a healthy lifestyle. My body was and remains accustomed to heavy physical load. That’s why I started exercising just a few days after giving birth. At the maternity ward of the Ida-Tallinn Central Hospital, I received a booklet with exercises from the doctor. It said: “Start with light pelvic floor exercises immediately after delivery (within the first 24 hours), even if there are stitches and swelling. Light muscle work helps improve blood circulation and reduce swelling.” In total, I did the exercises for about 15 minutes a day for two to three weeks.

At the same time, I started doing short walks, which got longer and faster every week, until finally I could jog for a few minutes. At first it was difficult to breathe correctly. When the baby was 1.5 months old, I started jogging at a brisk walking pace. Three months later, I could already run for 25 minutes. I went running when my husband got home from work and used that time to clear my head. Being alone outside gave me more energy, although I was often very tired when I went for a run.

How do you find time for this and what techniques do you use?

When my baby was five months old, I joined MyFitness to train and swim with my baby. I got some free vouchers from my girlfriend and the idea to join came during these workouts. A monthly MyFitness membership cost the same as four workouts for a toddler elsewhere. In addition, I can swim unlimitedly with the child and train on my own.

At first, going to the gym caused remorse, because during my workouts my husband or parents were taking care of the child, and this seemed to be my duty. In fact, my husband misses our son very much on working days and spends time with him with great pleasure. He is very involved in the raising of the child, which is great. I read in a book that people have evolved to live in tribes, where helping each other is a common thing. I also read that about one in ten mothers and fathers develop postpartum depression due to the fact that they are left alone with the child. After reading these facts, I became more willing to ask for help from my mother and mother-in-law. Therefore, I can train three times a week when my husband stays at home with the child after work or, if possible, one of our mothers looks after the child.

Home workouts are also an option, which I did with my baby. It’s a lot of fun for him, but we can’t do the whole workout together because he gets tired. I rarely work out at home because I like to change my environment and lift a lot of weight in the gym. I used to lead a very active lifestyle, and meeting other people at least once a week takes me out of this home life for a while.

What is the most difficult thing about training with a toddler and how did you overcome obstacles?

The biggest problem when training with a toddler is lack of sleep. If a child is teething, he is sick or, for example, he has a sleep regression, then the child wakes up several times during the night and does not want to fall asleep during the day. In this case, I try to sleep with my baby during the day, and in the worst case, I postpone the training. It’s better to do two workouts a week instead of three than none at all.

How have you developed as a result of working with a personal trainer?

Training with Monika once a week has been very beneficial for me. I train alone or with a child if my husband can work from home or on weekends. For example, the last time after a joint workout, my son and I went to the pool, which he really liked.

Personal training gave me the right and effective exercise technique. I know how to prevent and relieve injuries associated with lifting a child (such as lower back, shoulder, elbow and wrist pain). I focused on reducing tension in my neck and improving my posture. I also found out, for example, that I have diastasis, i.e. separation of the abdominal muscles.

Working out with a trainer also gave me a lot of new knowledge. This surprised me, since I have been involved in athletics for more than 15 years. When I train with Monika, I work so hard that my body stays tense for days afterwards. We have been training together for a month now and I already have strength indicators, posture has improved and my body dimensions has noticeably decreased. I look forward to what will happen in another three months!

What to do if you are afraid that you will be late for training or you will not be able to come and you will have to pay a fine?

I did not sign up for training with the baby. If the child’s sleep time is suitable and the mood is good, I just go there. So far, there has never been a situation where the group was full or latecomers were not allowed in. All sorts of surprises can happen with babies, and so far no one has been complaining.

Monika, what are the best workouts for moms with small children?

Possible workouts for moms with babies are strength training in the studio with a trainer, home strength training, swimming training, as well as various special workouts for mothers with babies that we offer at MyFitness. Unfortunately, the strength training in the gym is impossible on your own with a baby. However, it is possible to book a studio with a personal trainer if you want to improve your shape or get support to return to training. The trainer can also prepare a program for the mother that can be done at home with the baby and that will include enough development and support for recovery.

At what age does the baby agree to spend 30 minutes without mom so that mom, for example, can work out?

MyFitness’ childcare is for children 2 years of age and older. This provides a great opportunity to complete the workout while the baby plays with other children. Before that, the option could be to find a relative who is ready to take care of the child from time to time. It is psychologically very important to support the mother’s recovery and give her time for herself at least three times a week. It also gives you the opportunity to attend different workouts or work out calmly on the treadmill, in the gym or in the pool first.

It is psychologically very important to support the mother’s recovery and give her time for herself at least three times a week.

After giving birth, I recommend that you first be careful when training the abdominal muscles in group training. You should check in advance if the abdominal muscles need time to recover, if there is a separation of the abdominal muscles (diastasis). This can be checked both on your own and with your doctor or personal trainer. For the first two months after giving birth, I recommend only moving, swimming moderately, and giving the body time to recover naturally. Later, with the permission of the doctor, you can start strength training. Two-three times a week is enough, 30-45 minutes sessions with supportive nutrition.

What are the options for endurance training with a baby?

Together with a small child, you can work out in the studio with a personal trainer. The trainer can create a personal support program that you can do on your own at home with your child to help control your own development. MyFitness gyms also offer a variety of water activities for toddlers, workouts for moms with babies, and plenty of outdoor activity is highly recommended.

How to create a training program that matches your child’s daily routine?

First of all, I advise the new mother to calm down; with small children everything goes not the way you want. Forced routine can cause tension instead of the pleasant energy needed for workouts. Therefore, I recommend creating a program with a personal trainer that you can do with your child or independently while the child is sleeping. In this case, the exercise does not depend on the time of day or the child’s sleep schedule. After the first two months of recovery, I recommend starting to train 2-3 times a week with the baby and on your own. Working with a baby can be an enjoyable pastime for both mother and child.

You can always come to the trainer every four weeks to check your technique or create a new program. If you see your child starting to develop their own sleep/life routine, you can tailor your workouts to it. The only important aspect will be nutrition, so that the main diet from the very beginning remains as rich in nutrients as possible. So that mom has enough nutrients to restore her own strength and keep her in a good mood for this beautiful new life.

Recommendations for a new mom to create a new form:

  • After giving birth, allow yourself time for recovery and watch your diet. Make sure you are getting enough nutrients and liquids for breastfeeding.
  • I wholeheartedly recommend eating every few hours and making sure every meal contains grains, protein sources, salad, vegetables, fruits, and berries. A good idea is to make some meals as nutritious smoothies.
  • You can move immediately after giving birth, but reasonably enough and little by little.
  • In general, you should find the right way for you to exercise, not forgetting the playfulness and obligatory nourishment. The possibilities are many; you just need to get started!
  • Keep your spirits high, your belly full of the best and most nutritious food, and we’ll start training in just two months.


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