Shortly after having your first child, you may find yourself ready to expand the family once again and give your little one a sibling. Congratulations on stepping into a new chapter!

However, this time around it may be a completely different experience when preparing for conception, pregnancy and childbirth. You now have knowledge that you may not have had before, for example, which brand of nappies to buy, how to get past morning sickness, what to pack in your overnight bag etc. But, you also may have experienced physical changes that you did not have to deal with previously. No matter whether you had your first child 2 months or 2 years ago, your body and its reactions are completely different to what they would have been before baby number one.

So, how do you prepare to get pregnant? While there’s plenty of information about how to train while pregnant, it can be tough to know what to do to prepare for pregnancy. Here are some important factors to take into consideration:

Complications from your last pregnancy:  It is imperative to look at any ongoing conditions from your last pregnancy that could affect the way you train for your second one. Conditions like Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation) can return or worsen if not properly repaired before a second pregnancy begins. In order to avoid more drastic measure of repair such as surgery later on down the track, it is extremely important to make sure that any complications are fully repaired or are in a position suitable to carry again without risk.

Fitness level decrease:  It’s well known that a fit pregnancy is often a happy pregnancy, however your fitness levels may have taken a bit of a hit since having your first child and taking time off from your regular exercise routine. Before trying again for your second child, it is an excellent idea to get a base level of fitness back so that you have a better starting point after conception. The better base you have, the smoother staying fit will be throughout the entire pregnancy.

TVA and pelvic floor:  Transversus Abdominis (TVA) and the pelvic floor are extremely important to childbirth and controlling incontinence post-birth. These powerhouse muscles work together to make birth as smooth as possible, so can be weakened if not looked after before carrying your second child. Incorporating a variety of exercises that strengthen these muscles into your routine is key to assisting your second birth in going as easily as the last.

Now that you have an idea of what you need to look out for, it is important to understand how to help fix these issues. Here are some ideas for dealing with post-pregnancy complications, fitness level decrease and a weakness of the pelvic floor and TVA:

Consult a Personal Trainer:  For any post-pregnancy conditions, it is very important to have a professional to support you. While Google may give you some ideas, a fitness specialist will be able to determine the route to fitness, give an expert opinion and design a training programme that is guaranteed to provide results. For any pregnancy complications, speak to one of the Personal Trainers or pre and post-natal specialists at your club.

Start off slow:  If you find yourself with a decrease in fitness when coming back to the gym, go easy on yourself and gradually build up the intensity. There’s no need to be right back at your pre-baby fitness in the first week, by taking it steady you reduce the risk of injury. Give yourself some time and you’ll be back to your desired fitness level in no time.

Kegel, Kegel, Kegel!:  Every woman is told to do Kegel exercises post-baby, however it is often forgotten about after the first few weeks. Continuing to do Kegel exercises for an extended period of time can mean better strength and repair for the pelvic floor. Use Kegels alongside some Pallof presses and exercise ball squats to create a strong TVA and pelvic floor ready for another birth.

Pallof Press:

Exercise Ball Squat:

It is incredibly common to have more than one of these issues, or additional ones that I have not discussed. Whatever the case, when preparing for a child it may help to consult a Personal Trainer for the most effective and safe fitness and exercise advice. If you want to discuss any of these topics further, please come and see me.

Moana Bennett is a Personal Trainer for Habit Vero.