As a postpartum exercise specialist trainer, I am often asked about the suitability of certain popular exercise DVD’s or programs for postpartum fitness. I won’t name them simply because this isn’t a review of individual products, but I’m talking about regimes that promise to get you ‘ripped’, ‘tiny’ or give you ‘rock hard abs’… The workouts are ‘tough’ with an emphasis on fast and dramatic weight loss.

Not difficult to see why some women who are really motivated to lose the baby belly and get back into shape might be tempted!

But postpartum exercise should not be a generic workout, and these programs are not designed for a body that gave birth in the last 6 months. And even if it was longer than that, unless your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles (even after c-section) have been repaired and restored from the inside, this kind of workout could cause more harm than good.

There will be some moves which are too high impact or simply wrong for postpartum women and which could compromise already weakened muscles and lax joints. They may be effective and based on sound weight loss principles, but they’re just not what your body needs right now.

As well as the physical limitations, there are the logistical ones. The nutritional guidelines and time commitments needed are simply not realistic for most mums.

Fast weight loss / ab-focussed exercise DVD’s will almost always include traditional crunches or sit ups, or variations on these. Crunches (straight leg lifts / scissor legs or twisting oblique crunches are even worse!) will exacerbate a diastasis recti as well as produce intra-abdominal pressure which is the last thing you need after having a baby.

I know from women who have come to me that trying to follow such a program often leaves them exhausted and de-motivated because they feel they are constantly failing to follow them… Exercise routines that are too hard or too long and dietary guidelines that are unrealistic for a busy mum feeding a family, combined with the exhaustion of caring for young children is all just too much. Separate ingredients, separate meals and routines for mum because she’s ‘on a diet’ just don’t work. (It also doesn’t really set a great role model for healthy eating for kids :()

Be nice to yourself! The MUTU System will care for your body at the same time as getting the body shape and fat loss you’re after!

These workouts may be great once you’re all repaired and restored and recovered. But if you’ve had babies (however long ago you had them) you really need to address this as an integral part of any program you follow. Otherwise you really do risk injury, exhaustion or even issues in the future such as prolapse.

That body carried and birthed babies not so long ago… so don’t you think a little nurture as well as a health and fitness kick is in order? What do you think? Have you tried these type of workouts and have they worked for you?