We all feel that pressure to fit straight back into our skinny jeans after we’ve had a baby. Our bodies don’t look quite how they did before or even during pregnancy, when our beautiful bump gave us so much body confidence and made us feel radiant.
Suddenly our precious bump has deflated, and we’re left with a very different figure staring back at us in the mirror. The temptation to start working out and exercising can be strong, but it is so important to be careful in the first few weeks after birth.
Start with gentle exercise
Labour and birth can be hard work, it is called Labour after all!
It can result in physical problems such as back pain or a leaky bladder, both of which can be made worse by strenuous exercise. Pregnancy hormones can also affect your joints and ligaments for up to 6 months after birth, putting you at greater risk or injury.
During pregnancy, your abdominal muscles may have separated – this is quite common for a lot of women. They usually go back to normal after the birth, but sometimes they can stay separated. Exercise can help to strengthen these muscles to avoid further back pain and injury.
I’m sure you’re aware of your pelvic floor! This is the muscles and ligaments that support your bladder, uterus and bowel and can be weakened after pregnancy, especially if you’ve had a long labour or given birth to a bigger baby! Regular exercise can help to strengthen your pelvic floor, as long as it is gentle, so as not to do more damage.
Exercise can help you recover after childbirth; make you feel stronger and improve your mood. It can also be so beneficial for your mental wellbeing, relieving stress and help prevent postnatal depression.
Exercising can also mean you’re more likely to go out and meet people - other mums in similar situations to you. It’s important however to not overdo it! Caring for your new-born can be tiring and hard work so don’t pressure yourself to do too much – a gentle 15-minute walk or 10 minutes of stretching is perfect!
There are gentle exercises that you can do when you start to feel up to it. Gentle stretches, walks and pelvic floor exercise are perfect for when you feel up to it and have healed enough to give them a go.
Which exercises are recommended?
When you start feeling up to gentle exercise, start with a gentle walk, perhaps whilst pushing your baby in the pram. Do it at your own pace and over time, gradually increase the time and pace of your walks. Build up to a 30-minute walk every day if you can.
If you have had a caesarean, you’ll need to be more careful with your recovery. After 6 to 8 weeks, you will still be healing inside. It is OK to start walking, do low-impact aerobics or cycle. Stop if there is any discomfort, pain or a pulling sensation on your scar and try again a couple of weeks later.
You should avoid high-impact exercise for 3 to 4 months after your caesarean.
One of the best ways we recommend introducing gentle exercise after birth, is Buggy Beat!
Buggy Beat™ is an outdoor class for parents and baby/toddler aimed NOT just at postnatal mums, but ALL parents and guardians who look after babies and toddlers can join in these fun sessions. It’s an all over body workout for any level of fitness as you work at your own pace and see to your little ones whenever you need to whether they are in the buggy or want to get out and be with you. Get fitter and stronger doing a mix of cardio, strength, and resistance band exercises. Rebuild your deep core and pelvic floor with our experienced level 3 pre/post-natal fitness instructor. You & your little ones will enjoy exercising in the fresh air whilst being able to socialise with other new mums and their little ones. For post-natal mums the class is suitable to join from 6 weeks post vaginal birth or 10 weeks post c-section. If you’d like to book Buggy Beat, you can book via our website.
Tania Fitness also runs postnatal Pilates as well as other Mums and Tots fitness classes, find out more about her classes here - https://www.facebook.com/TaniaFitnessMummies