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Simone De La Rue Reveals 10 Things All New Mums Should Know about Fitness

Women's Health UK logo Women's Health UK 23/05/2020 Lauren Clark
a person jumping into the air to catch a frisbee: The Body By Simone star - who helped Chrissy Teigen and Khloe Kardashian return to pre-pregnancy fitness - talks postnatal ab exercises and 'normal' leaking. © Instagram The Body By Simone star - who helped Chrissy Teigen and Khloe Kardashian return to pre-pregnancy fitness - talks postnatal ab exercises and 'normal' leaking.

Simone De La Rue, famed for her fitness empire Body By Simone, has been credited with getting a host of new A-list mums back to their pre-pregnancy shape.

Over the years she's coached Chrissy Teigen, Khloe Kardashian, andRosie Huntington-Whiteley, Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Garner, Reese Witherspoon and Emily Blunt - the list goes on.

Most recently, she trained new mum Millie Mackintosh during her pregnancy.

Last year, at 43 Simone became her own client - an incredible journey she opened up to WH about and one, she talks to WH about on YouTube.

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From the first day after giving birth to son Oscar, now one, the celebrity PT - whose toned gym selfies and workout videos are a regular feature on her Instagram feed - shared an honest account of how her body had changed and the challenges as new mum.

'I did a post after giving birth with my whole belly out,' she recalls. 'In the caption I wrote that this is what it looks like after giving birth. A lot of fitness influencers don’t show their bodies until they’ve got their six packs back again. I think that’s unfair, unrealistic and unattainable for a lot of women.'

Because exercise after having a baby is not as simple as slipping on a pair of leggings. For starters, Simone reveals she was forced to swap her hot pink ones for a black shade to disguise leaking during exercise.

Read on to find out more about what training after giving birth is really like.

1| So, you've given rest

Yep. It may feel like you've been waiting a lot during the last nine months - to meet your little one, enjoy some Camembert, and - oh - get back to your favourite HIIT class. But, whether you gave birth naturally or via a c-section, your body still needs time to recover.

'All new mums should wait six to eight weeks, and then get clearance from a doctor, before returning to exercise,' says Simone. 'It takes time for the vaginal and abdominal walls to heal.' The former dilates and can tear during a natural delivery, while pressure is placed on the latter during pregnancy by the growing uterus.

For Simone, having a C-section meant that she was unable to walk for two weeks - and, even then, a gentle stroll was as active as she got. 'You need to take it easy,' she insists.

2| Prep your abs

'Five to six days after my C-section I started belly breathing,' Simone explains. 'It engages your abs before you start doing planks and crunches.'

Also known as '360 breathing' or diaphragmatic breathing, it targets the transverse abdominis muscles which, during pregnancy, protect the baby and hold it in. Try doing it sat on a chair. Expand your belly as you inhale. Then, when you exhale, imagine your belly button moving in towards your spine.

3| Don't jump back in - be gentle

Once you've got the medical all-clear, now's the time to slowly reawaken your muscles. But, once again, being gentle is key. 'Even something like a deep squat, you have to be so careful - you need to really ease into things like that,' Simone warns.

You also may not realise how much strength you've lost in certain areas. 'While my upper body stayed pretty much the same, I put on weight on my hips and thighs - a trouble area for most women - and was also actually quite weak there too,' she explains. 'So coming back I focused a lot on lower body work.'

How about the core? Avoid doing crunches straight away and start off in a simple plank position and focus on bringing the belly up towards the navel. Or try standing and finding your centre of gravity.

But what your body is able to do after you've got the go-ahead will vary. 'It really depends on what the birth story is for each woman,' adds Simone.

3| Leaking is normal

'Something I missed - and I know a lot of new mums miss - is the good endorphin rush from the cardio, but that can involve a lot of jumping around,' says Simone. 'A lot of women, who’ve had a vaginal birth, complain to me that they pee themselves during dance cardio or treadmill cardio.'

The remedy to postpartum urinary incontinence? 'Waiting for your pelvic floor to heal before restarting exercise is the wisest thing to do, and then doing pelvic floor exercises,' says Simone. 'But even then, you may still leak a little bit and that's ok.'

Indeed, she explains that it's a normal side-effect of giving birth. 'It’s so common and women shouldn’t be embarrassed,' the celebrity PT adds, explaining that many a client has confided in her about it. 'When I was younger I’d wear hot pink leggings and wonder why all the mums had black leggings - and now I get it.'

4| Get picky on Instagram

Only follow accounts that make you feel good and which give you sound advice. 'Each birth is different and each woman’s body is different - so don’t compare yourself,' says Simone. 'Be very careful that the content you follow makes you feel good. My job as a trainer revolves around my body and how it looks. I work out one to two hours a day with my clients, so my postnatal progression may be faster than other women, and I'm careful not to say "look how quickly I snapped back". As a fitness influencer I need to be sending out the correct message.'

She also warns that you should only take advice from those who are qualified. 'I think the wonderful thing about Instagram is that you have access to so many people - but the other thing is, now everyone’s an influencer,' the star explains. 'Everyone's saying you can do this and you can do that - but they might not have the qualifications to back up what they're saying. So especially before, during and after you give birth, make sure the advice that you’re getting comes from someone properly trained.'

5| You won't be 'normal' in a few months

Or even in a year. Every woman's journey is different. 'But one thing's for sure, you absolutely will get back to your pre-pregnancy fitness in time,' insists Simone.

It helps if you put in the groundwork. 'There’s so many studies encouraging women to workout throughout their pregnancy thanks to health benefits to the mum and baby,' she says. 'Gone are the days when women were told to put their feet up and eat ice-cream for nine months. What's more, if I you do exercise, you are going to have muscle memory so it’s going to be easier to adapt and get back into the fitness levels that you were at prior to being pregnant. I was back working after six weeks, but really it was four months for me to have my body back. For women who don’t workout every day it can take nine months or two years. Everybody is different.'

6| Eat well...and enough

Losing pregnancy baby weight isn't a cue to dramatically slash your calorie intake - particularly if you're exercising and breastfeeding. 'Doing too much cardio or things like HIIT training could affect your milk supply,' Simone warns. 'When you’re breastfeeding, you’re needing at least 300 more calories a day. So if you’re working out on top of that, you’re going to be burning a lot more calories than you would otherwise. So you need to increase your calorie intake to keep up your milk supply.'

After birth, Simone was conscious of her nutrition. 'I was eating breakfast, lunch and dinner plus snacks in between,' she says. 'Meals were high in protein, healthy fats, good carbs. I was eating a lot of chicken, fish, beef, sweet potato, vegetables, rice. Real foods, whole foods, organic where possible. I was eating the same portions as my husband - and I was still hungry because my body was burning through so many calories.' She adds hydration is also key.

7| Make time for resistance work

Just because your goal may be fat burn - don't dismiss weight training. 'There should definitely be a balance of cardio and strength,' says Simone. But, as before, this is something that should be gradually built up.

9| Do 10 minutes a day

If you're exhausted from being up all night with a crying baby, training may feel like the last thing you want to do. 'But it can be really helpful to push to try and do some exercise,' says Simone. 'It will give you some energy and help you sleep better. Even just 10 or 20 minutes - because sometimes a whole hour can be really daunting, and whose got the time for that when you’re a new mum.'

10| Invest in a pro

Ideally a PT. 'I really think it’s good to have professional guidance when you’re first getting back into fitness after birth,' advises Simone. 'I think before and after birth is the one time in a woman’s life when seeing a trainer can be a really good investment. I’ve had clients come to me over the years who say "I’ve got this injury or that issue because I came back too soon and no one told me". I even had one client where I could put my entire wrist through the separation of her abdominal wall. You need to be cautious.'

If getting a trainer isn't an option, doing a home workout lead by a pro is also a great idea. 'I have a prenatal DVD, and an app with a lot of post-natal workouts on it,' she adds. 'You’re following the guidelines from a professional and you can do them until you have the strength to go into a gym and to give you confidence - you don’t want to be put off.'

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