After 9 months of housing that beautiful baby inside you, going through the wonderful, yet often traumatic, experience of labour and childbirth and then being thrown into the highly emotional world of motherhood with a tiny baby, I can honestly excuse any mama, if exercise isn’t their first thought post baby!
When we do eventually think it’s time to exercise, it’s hard to know where and what to do, for the best.
We are given very little, if any, information on how to return to exercise safely after having a baby. We know our bodies are not the same, we know they don’t feel the same and they certainly don’t look the same, so starting anything physical is very daunting.
Below I’ve posted some top tips on returning to exercise.
As a pre & postnatal fitness trainer, my passion is helping women return to exercise safely and giving them the tools and information they need to look after their body now, and for the future.
Here’s some useful advice for returning to exercise -
Mums should be at least 6wks PP before they begin any exercise, 8-12wks for c section mamas or those who’ve had traumatic births. Remember everyone is different, so don’t compare yourself to others - be kind to yourself and your body.
Start with low impact exercise, walking is a great first step and gently build up the distance covered. Low impact, suitable bodyweight exercises and functional movements will start to re-build strength. Don’t forget your core & pelvic floor!
Aim for 2 weekly workouts, no longer than 30-45 minutes a time plus short daily walks to increase your general activity. This will soon get the muscles working, help improve general fitness and lift your mood.
Other things to consider…
1. Pelvic Girdle Pain - is common during pregnancy and afterwards, low impact strengthening exercises will help and also concentrating on a better way of carrying yourself and little one throughout the day.
Think about posture, how you hold and change baby and how you push your pram.
2. Stomach Separation (Diastasis Recti) - is common after baby, but should go back to normal around the 6 week point, we need our cores to be strong enough for daily activity.
Suitable deep core work is advised in those early months to gently rehabilitate your body.
3. Pelvic Floor Health - it’s common after little one to have a weak pelvic floor however this can easily be remedied with the right breath work, pelvic floor exercise and focus on strengthening of this area.
After birth you still have relaxin in your body, the hormone that gives your ligaments more elasticity. If you’re breast-feeding, relaxin will remain in your body until you stop (and up to 5 months after), which means your body is much more susceptible to injury.
High impact exercise, such as running or HIIT workouts should be put on the back burner until you’ve build up a solid foundation to support your postnatal body.
5. Lack of sleep? Take it down!
We all know lack of sleep affects us but even more so if we are trying to exercise on it. It’s crucial that you scale your workouts right back and do much less than normal if you’ve had less than 6 hours sleep, your body is just not physically ready and you could do more harm than good.
6. Postnatal aches and pains - Similar to PGP, many mums find they are left with many aches and pains - shoulder pain, neck pain, back pain and more, can all present either during or after having a little one.
Again, suitable strengthening exercises that focus on whole body postnatal health, functional movements and core and pelvic floor function can really help ease these issues.
Every Mum’s recovery is different and there really is no set formula for returning to exercise, or set time to get you back into your running trainers.
I recommend that ALL Mums start with a foundational postnatal fitness programme - you can never do enough work on the basics, and this is where our Baby Ffit: Recover Programme comes in.
This 5 week programme looks at every aspect of your natal journey, from pregnancy to labour and beyond.
We work through all the things that can possibly affect you postnatally - and remember, there’s no expiry on ‘postnatal’ - this could be 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years after your last baby.
The focus is on rehabilitation and connecting the mind and body with understanding, empathy and low impact movement.
The core, pelvic floor and supporting muscles are at the heart of the teaching and instruction delivered each week, using the latest research and learnings from expert physios.
It’s a slow build, with weekly progression, and at home videos to complete in-between sessions to continue your recovery safely and smoothly.
Baby Ffit: Plus is just that. The ‘next step’ to your postnatal fitness plan - the bridge between low and high impact at a pace that suits you.
Still with the option to stick with low impact modifications if you need, the plus classes will start to build on those foundations.
Plus class will introduce impact work, light weights and more challenging functional exercises to really get you to the ‘postnatal recovered stage’ - which is where my ladies only classes then start!
Wherever or however you begin, just make sure you follow the simple steps outlined above and take into consideration the changes your body has been through.
Think 9 months in, 9 months out - and allow that time to really heal and restore your body from the inside out 🧡
For more information or to join any of my classes, head over to www.mamauffit.com