This is a question that comes up for me time and time again. Understandably, new Mums are either anxious about getting started again as they don’t know what they should or shouldn’t do and don’t want to do themselves any harm. Or they have literally no idea where to start for the best or how they’re even going to manage fitness with a new baby.
But getting fit after a baby needn’t be scary or overwhelming – in fact, starting to include some gentle exercise in your routine can do you the world of good.
1. First off, don’t do anything more than gentle walking and stretching until you’ve had your 6-week check. Your body is still healing and it needs time to do those things. Movement is important, but keep it gentle to keep yourself protected.
2. Before you do get started again, be aware of any red flags, such as abdominal separation, any leaking of urine you may be experiencing, any aches and pains and any heavy or dragging sensations around your vagina and back passage. If you’re experiencing any of those, or things just don’t feel right, go and see a Women’s Health Physio or a specialist in postnatal exercise like myself.
3. Ideally start off in a specialist postnatal exercise class – this will make sure you are starting with the right kinds of exercises that will build you up gradually and ensure your body is protected. If there isn’t one available and you have previously done other things like yoga and pilates, speak to your instructor first and ensure that they are able to give you suitable alternatives to start back with. Some moves will need to be adapted to take into account your postnatal status.
4. You may feel absolutely great by the time you hit 6 weeks, but don’t go rushing straight back to your usual class or routine. On the inside your body is still healing and your pelvic floor and core muscles may not cope so well with the full on assault of a bootcamp class, running or weights. It is definitely possible to cause issues and injuries (to anywhere on your body, but particularly tummy, pelvic floor, knees, hips and back) by doing too much too soon.
5. Lots of mums want solutions for their tummies in particular. But please don’t start doing crunches, planks, or any exercise that puts a lot of pressure on your core and pelvic floor. You may actually find that rather than giving you a flatter tummy, you do the opposite and push the tummy muscles out into more of a dome shape! And bear in mind that when it comes to tummies, nutrition, posture and self care are just as important as the exercises you do.
6. Finally, take your time. Exercise is fantastic for mind, body and soul and I think every new mum should do some once she’s ready. But it’s also not a race to the top – respect what your body has been through both in pregnancy and childbirth. Our bodies do an amazing job, and they need to be nurtured for a little while afterwards too. Believe me, before you know it you’ll be back to ‘normal’!
If you want lots more like this, including some great mum-friendly mini workouts, join my dedicated Facebook Group for New Mums.