When you’ve just had a baby and you’re settling into life as a new mum, exercise might be the last thing on your mind. You will probably be really busy and generally feel too tired to put on your sports bra and a pair of trainers. Often, lots of women will put off getting back into exercise when they become a mum and this is a real shame because there are actually numerous benefits to making time for you and your body in the first few months postpartum.
Generally speaking, if you’ve had a straightforward birth then it is usually safe to start doing some gentle exercise, such as walking and pelvic floor exercises, as soon as you feel up to it. However, before you start anything slightly higher-impact, like aerobic classes or running, you should wait for your 6-week postnatal check and your midwife, health visitor or GP will give you the go-ahead to get back to exercise. If you had a more complicated delivery or a caesarean, your recovery time will be longer and make sure you speak with a medical professional before starting anything strenuous.
So, once you can safely start exercising again, whilst you may put this to the bottom of your ‘to do’ list, it is actually much more important to start moving your body than new mums initially realise and it can be so advantageous too. Before you rule out post-natal exercise altogether, below we have looked into some of the biggest benefits to starting to exercise again.
Get some feel-good chemicals flowing
As you’re probably aware, when you exercise, your body releases a number of chemicals that help to improve your mood. Without going into too much scientific detail, any type of physical activity will stimulate the release of dopamine and serotonin, and of course, most importantly endorphins. You will be surprised as to how much of a difference these chemicals can make to how you’re feeling and your general mood for the next few hours.
Not only will your wellbeing be improved by these chemicals, but you will also find that exercise increases your energy levels too. Contrary to popular belief, exercise can make you feel less tired in general and give you the boost you need to get through the day. Not to mention it can promote better sleep as well, so you will wake up feeling more energised too.
Ease general aches and pains
Lots of women have aches and pains, like backache, neck pain and hip pain, after they’ve had a baby and this can put them off getting back into exercise. However, when you’re doing the right exercises and easing yourself back into things, this can actually help to heal your post-natal body and reduce the aches and pains that you’re feeling.
Post-natal exercise can help to strengthen big muscle groups in your body and this will be incredibly effective in reducing the pain you’re experiencing. Exercise will also help you to improve your posture and alignment too, which again, will resolve any aches and pains caused by poor posture. So, making time for your body and exercise is really worthwhile.
Overcome specific medical problems
Aches and pains aren’t the only things that women suffer from post-pregnancy and it isn’t uncommon for people to experience issues with things like diastasis recti and stress incontinence, in particular. Unfortunately, both of these medical problems can have a negative impact on day-to-day life and they won’t heal by themselves. Yet, simply following some tailored post-natal exercise advice, can help you to see big improvements.
Working on your pelvic floor muscles is something that all women can do at any time and it is so easy to include pelvic floor exercises into your daily routine. However, strengthening your abdominal muscles often takes more time, but diastasis recti exercises are still something that you should really try to find time to do, no matter how busy life may be.
Improve your stamina and energy levels
If you haven’t been to a high impact exercise class or done a hardcore session at the gym since falling pregnant then you will probably have noticed that your stamina has suffered. Whilst you shouldn’t dive straight back into your old exercise routine, thankfully, lots of post-natal exercises can help to improve your cardiovascular fitness and enhance your stamina levels.
By finding time to exercise, even if this is just 10 minutes a day, not only will you have the strength you need to look after your baby but you will also have the stamina required to keep up with them as they get older too. Working on your overall fitness levels now will make general day-to-day motherhood much easier and you’ll really notice a difference in this regard.
Strengthen and tone your body
Lots of women want to get rid of their ‘mummy tummy’, get their ‘pre-baby body back’ and generally lose some weight once they’ve given birth and exercise can help with all of these things. However, it is always important to remember that your body will be different once you’ve had a baby and your ‘pre-baby body’ shouldn’t be your aim. Instead, try to change your mindset and aim to get your health back, and be fitter and stronger than you’ve ever been.
Getting some post-natal exercise advice and some post-natal diet advice can be really beneficial, and this can provide you with the tools you need to start strengthening your body. Of course, as always, seeing improvements does take time, but you will definitely thank yourself in the long run for staying focused and finding time to work on yourself and your body.
Healthy body = healthy mind
This is arguably one of the most important reasons why you should try to make time for exercise, even when you have a newborn. Exercise isn’t just about improving your physical health, it can make such a huge difference to your mental health too. In fact, lots of GPs actually prescribe exercise as a treatment for people who are struggling with their mental health.
When you start exercising again after giving birth, not only will the chemicals mentioned above help to improve your mood, but exercise will also help to relieve stress and some women even find that it helps to prevent post-natal depression too. This alone is reason enough to try and find time in your day to move your body and complete some simple post-natal exercises.
Getting back into exercise post pregnancy
There is no denying that as soon as your midwife, health visitor or GP has told you that it’s safe to start exercising again, then it is always worthwhile trying to fit exercise into your daily routine. There really are so many benefits to exercising in the weeks/months postpartum and whilst you might be tired and lack the motivation to start with, you can guarantee that you will always feel better once you’ve moved your body.
That being said, don’t ever be too hard on yourself. If you plan to exercise every morning or every evening and these plans go awry, don’t beat yourself up about missing a workout. There is always tomorrow and missing a day or two of exercise won’t matter too much. Remember that you’re still a new mum and you’re trying to navigate motherhood, so if exercise has to take a backseat on some days, this isn’t a problem at all.
When you’re looking to get some post-natal exercise advice, a Healthy Post-Natal Body membership is exactly what you need. Not only will our team of experts provide you with safe workout and strength training routines that you can do from the comfort of your own home, but you will also have access to a number of forums too. With an HPNB membership, you can get advice from qualified personal trainers who will gladly answer any of your exercise-related questions and you will become part of a community of like-minded women who are all on a similar journey to you.
If you’d like to find out more about who we are and what we do here at HPNB, feel free to browse our website today and if you require any further information, don’t hesitate to get in touch. A member of our friendly team will do all they can to help.
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