Easing back in: tips for post natal exercise
After your baby arrives, if you have always been an active person you may feel that you want to get your pre-baby body back.
It’s important that you know… there is no rush for you to get back into the gym, yoga, Pilates, running, or whatever gets your workout juices flowing. Don’t feel like you HAVE to get back to your pre-baby body immediately. Getting active again will all happen in good time.
However, if you are finding that you’re just not yourself without exercise and you know it helps you feel better physically and mentally, here are some tips on how to ease back in after your baby is born.
Post natal exercise: what you need to know
Make sure you take the time to rest and recover properly after your birth experience. Your body has just been through some incredible changes and may not bounce back the way you anticipate.
You need to allow yourself recovery time to minimise injuries and strain on your body. Give yourself a few weeks then check in with your doctor and get the final approval before you start your regime.
Once approved, start with 20-30 minutes of light activity each day. If you don’t have that much time, even 10 minutes a day will be beneficial.
When can you start working out after having a baby?
It’s typically most common to wait until the 6-week checkup before you dive into post natal exercise.
Every woman’s delivery and recovery will be different and depends on if you’ve had a natural birth (with or without complications), or a C-section. In either case, listen closely to what your body is telling you. Only you know what it can handle.
Within those first 6 weeks, if you are itching to be active, you can potentially start with these:
- Daily walk around your neighbourhood
- Light stretching to help with posture/ strengthen back and abdominal muscles
- Kegel exercises — these will help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that were weakened during pregnancy
Avoid full on abdominal exercises or intense cardio in the early weeks after giving birth as you may set your recovery back.
After a natural birth:
If you had a natural birth and your doctor gives the okay, you can start with these exercises as part of your post natal exercise routine:
- Light strength training. If you’re feeling up to it, tone up with your own body weight or free weights (no heavier than 4kgs to begin with). You’ll be able to increase as you get more comfortable
- Pelvic tilt, which can reduce belly fat
- Side plank
- Doing squats while holding your bub
- ‘Bridge’ pose, to help with pelvic floor and tighten your glutes
- Deep breathing while contracting your abdomen (this will help to tighten the stomach muscles)
Start off slowly and build up your post natal exercise efforts gradually. You are probably worn out from a lack of sleep and breastfeeding so you need to take it easy.
Exercise after a c-section:
Having a cesarean is major surgery so you will need longer to recover. Rushing back into any form of intense exercise will be more harmful than beneficial.
It’s likely you’ll be cleared by your doctor at the 6-8 week mark, but this doesn’t mean you’re fully healed internally.
Walking, bodyweight exercise, pelvic floor exercises and breath work will be your best friend during this time. Abdominal exercises, running, heavy lifting or jumping are all big no-nos.
Initially, it can be a little frustrating to have to start slow, but it will be worth it.
As you build up your post natal exercise routine, consider working with a physiotherapist or personal trainer who specialises in helping baby mamas. You could join a mums and bubs workout class or find a gym which offers a creche and will look after your child while you exercise.