Another one in our “Post Pregnancy Bodies” series.This time we’re looking at when you can get back to exercise. I have written about this before, but this is a slightly longer guide.
Exercise is a big part of many people’s lives. Lots of women are really active before trying for a family and when they find out they are pregnant the “rules” of exercise can get really confusing. One person will tell you one thing and another will have a different opinion on how active you are during pregnancy.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t change once you have given birth either. Your fitness class instructor may tell you one thing and a personal trainer may tell you another. It can be hard to know who to trust and many women just shy away from exercise all together with the fear of harming their body. This is such a shame, especially if exercise was something they loved before they fell pregnant.
To help anyone that is looking for some answers they can trust regarding getting back into exercise after having a baby, Healthy Post Natal Body have answered all of the most frequently asked questions by new mums.
This is a very hard question to answer generally as it really does differ depending on how much you exercised before and during your pregnancy, how you gave birth and a few other factors too. However, below is the “standard” advice that is given to most women.
If you had a straightforward birth without any complications then the NHS advises that you can start gentle exercise as soon as you feel up to it. This includes things such as walking, gentle stretches and pelvic floor exercises. However, they do also advise that you wait until after your 6-week postnatal check before you start any high-impact exercise, such as running. If you used to exercise regularly before giving birth and you feel fit and well, then you may be able to start earlier so, just have a chat with your midwife, health visitor or GP.
If you had a more complicated delivery or a caesarean then, unfortunately, your recovery time will be longer. Some people say that you may even have to wait double the length of time that you would after a straightforward birth. Again, talk to your midwife, health visitor or GP before starting anything strenuous as they will be able to advise you further.
Really, jumping straight back into your pre-baby workout regimen so soon after birth is not a great idea, even for ultra-fit mums. Your lower back and core abdominal muscles will more than likely be weaker than they used to be. This means that the way you exercise and your form during exercise may have changed so, you are almost starting from scratch again.
Not only this but, the hormone responsible for softening the ligaments and joints during pregnancy and childbirth (Relaxin) can stay in your body for up to six months postpartum. Unfortunately, due to this, you have an increased risk of injury and the last thing you want to do is hurt yourself.
It is important to remember that if you push yourself too hard in the beginning, then you can actually be setting yourself back from real recovery. Try not to overthink how many times you can exercise in a week and don’t force yourself back into your old strict exercise regimens.
Instead, try to think of exercise being more day-to-day activities to start with, things such as walking instead of driving to the corner shop, taking the stairs rather than a lift and playing energetic games with older children. You will be surprised how much of a difference this can make.
As mentioned above, starting with easy exercise that you may not have previously even called ‘exercise’ is the best way to ease yourself back into things. Walking is such a great way to slowly build back up your fitness, it is something you can do with your little one too.
Getting one or two of these will help get you out of the house
As well as walking, try to participate in low-impact exercise such as swimming. Of course, you will need to ensure that you are no longer experiencing any post-natal bleeding before you start swimming but, it is such a great form of exercise for new mums. You should also look into post-natal yoga routines that you can follow along with at home. Getting your body moving without putting too much pressure on yourself is the main aim.
Thankfully, these days there are lots of postnatal exercise classes that are specifically for women in the same situation as you. The majority of these classes are child-friendly so you can bring your little one along with you, they may even be part of the class and used as part of the workout. So, these are a great place to start. Just remember, if you’re going to a class that isn’t a special postnatal class, make sure you tell the instructor that you’ve recently had a baby.
A general rule would be to avoid any vigorous exercise until you know your body is completely ready. This means things such as running, boxing, high-intensity workout classes etc. as they can all do more damage than good at this stage.
You should also avoid lifting heavy weights when you start exercising again. As touched upon above, your core muscles are weaker than they used to be and your posture will have changed too. These are both important factors when it comes to lifting weights and until you feel as though you have your core strength back and your posture corrected, try to avoid the heavy weights section of the gym.
One thing to look out for is if your post-natal bleeding gets heavier or changes to a pink or red colour after exercise. This is a clear sign that you could be overdoing it. You’re also likely to feel really tired and lack energy to do day-to-day activities let alone more exercise.
It is so important to listen to your body and pace yourself, there is absolutely no rush to get back to your pre-baby exercise routine. You should make sure that you’re getting plenty of rest too, this is just as important as getting back into exercise.
Generally, don’t be too nervous about getting back to exercise. It is great to get back into your normal routine after having a baby and of course, there are lots of reasons to exercise, including your mental and physical health. So, when you feel ready, go for it and have fun, and remember not to put too much pressure on yourself.
If you’re eager to get back into exercise but you have no idea where to start and you would like some tailored post-natal exercise advice from a professional then visit the Healthy Post Natal Body website today. We are experts in everything from Diastasis Recti and back, neck and shoulder pain post pregnancy to posture and pelvic floor problems. We understand how all of these things can affect you getting back into exercise and are more than happy to help you.
For an incredibly affordable monthly payment, you can have access to a good post-natal exercise programme that will help you work towards your pre-baby fitness levels, and beyond!, and also a forum where you can speak to a fully qualified Personal Trainer about any queries you have rather than just having to rely on Google. You will get a monthly 7-minute home routine and also 2 strength training routines emailed to you so, you can start as soon as you feel ready.
If you have any questions at all about the way that Healthy Post Natal Body works or the membership and benefits then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our friendly team will gladly answer any questions that you have and provide you with all of the additional information that you require.