Boxing as Postnatal Exercise
The health of a new mother is just as important after she gives birth as it is during her pregnancy. Pregnancy changes a woman’s body and being a new mother creates new challenges for her as well. It still is possible to return to a fitness regimen after a prenatal hiatus. Boxing can strengthen the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles to help strengthen a new mother’s body and help her reach her goals.
Benefits of Boxing for a New Mother
Boxing is great for exercising and strengthening abdominal muscles. For a new mother, pregnancy will have stretched those muscles, so it is important to use core exercises to help return them back to their pre-baby state.
Being a new mom has its challenges, especially when it comes to energy levels. Fatigue-- due to a lack of sleep-- is a common complaint among new moms because of the baby’s schedule. In addition to getting much-needed rest, getting back to training is a significant challenge. It may seem counterintuitive that exercise could give you energy, but exercise can help you fall asleep faster and get quality sleep. Sleep is a precious commodity as a new parent and it’s important to get the right amount; getting back to training may help you do just that.
Other benefits may include combating postpartum depression. It is important to distinguish between mild to moderate postpartum depression and severe postpartum depression/psychosis. Mild to moderate postpartum depression can be influenced by exercise, whereas severe postpartum depression requires medical intervention.
The mood-altering effects of exercise and training can also help you relieve stress. Your baby may have colic, the father may be back to work and your mother-in-law might constantly be critiquing your parenting skills, but you can find relief for these stressors in the ring!
When Is It Recommended to Box Postnatal?
If you were training with high-intensity workouts before and during your pregnancy, OB/GYNs believe it is safe to resume light activity after 6-12 weeks. This gives your body time to heal from the birth of your new baby and to adjust to the new schedule of your child. It is recommended that at six weeks, light exercise--such as walking or cycling-- is the safest for your body. If all goes well, you can start to increase intensity at 12 weeks. Running can be eventually introduced once your body is ready for it.
It is important to consult your doctor prior to returning to the ring. It is also not recommended to dive back in if you had complications during delivery or if you had a C-section. Other than these issues, getting back to the ring is absolutely possible.
Professional UFC fighter, Stephanie Eggink, returned to training 12 weeks after she gave birth. She had continued to train, although her sparring partner was instructed only to hit her face, not her abdomen. Like in the OB/GYN recommendations, because she was active during her pregnancy, getting back to regular training was not a problem at 12 weeks. She was able to start light exercise at 6 weeks but full training had to wait till 12 weeks.
Be sure to consult with your physician before starting any exercise program. Everybody is different, and training at six weeks is meant to be light to ease your body back into a routine.
What Are the Risks?
There are a few risks for a new mom starting back to training. It is important that you do not feel discomfort, especially in your pelvic floor. It is also important to remember that the pelvic floor, abdominal and oblique muscles stretch during pregnancy and delivery. Getting those muscles back to pre-baby state may take some time, so be patient and do it correctly.
If returning to your previous level of training and physical strength takes time, cut yourself some slack. You just grew a human and had your body taken over for nine months; getting your pre-baby body back may be awhile but it will come. Just stick with it!
It is crucial that a professional evaluate you to look for signs of pelvic floor separation before you begin any training. This can occur during pregnancy and labor and if you begin training too soon before it’s healed, the separation can continue and cause incontinence.
In addition to your pelvic floor, remember to wear a supportive sports bra to protect your breasts while you are breastfeeding. OB/GYNs also suggest pumping or nursing before you exercise so that you are not bothered by the discomfort of engorged milk ducts.
As you are still eating and drinking for two until your new baby is weaned, make sure that you are well-hydrated during training. Keep the fluids coming in order to keep your metabolism in peak shape and keep you able to adequately breastfeed.
What Training Is Recommended at 12 weeks?
At 12 weeks, it is possible to slowly resume your regular training schedule, building on the light activity you engaged in from weeks 6-12 postpartum. If you are starting to train for the first time, you need to take it slow and rotate cardio exercises and resistance training at a rate and pace that you are able to handle them physically.
For those who had an intensive training schedule during pregnancy, if you do not have pelvic floor separation it is possible to start doing high-intensity cardio and resistance training. Remember that in the first 12 weeks postpartum, you should already be doing some light cardio to get your body prepared for training. Try to stay active during this time outside of the gym by going on walks or runs with a stroller to help your metabolism work for you even more.
Psychology of Returning to Training
Mothers often feel pressured to put their families first to the detriment of their health, both mentally and physically. Remember, to take care of everyone else, you need to take care of yourself. Training is not selfish or vain, but about health above all. Exercise can positively impact your mood. It can help you get better quality of sleep and keep your immune system strong.
These are great benefits that you should view as a need, not as a want. You will need a break to recharge and get back to what you love to do and that’s be a mom. Give your child not only a healthier mom, but one who leads by example and knows how to live a healthier lifestyle.
Again, it is important to consult with your doctor before getting back to training or starting for the first time. It may seem overwhelming to start a fitness regimen or getting back to one, but it is possible. If you take care of you, then you have a healthier body to devote to your family.
Having more energy and better sleep are just some of the perks of training. These two benefits will help you in your new adventure as a mother. Don’t be afraid to try your first Gloveworx training session and schedule some time for yourself.