Working out after having a baby might not be your first thought, but for me, it was something I couldn’t wait to get back to! Before I begin with this post, I just want to mention that exercise is a huge part of my life, it’s my passion but also my career so please don’t judge yourself against my level of fitness or dedication. Any movement you decide to do will benefit your mind and body, it’s your journey, so do what feels right for you. Working out postpartum can seem just as daunting as working out whilst pregnant. With this in mind, I wanted to share my top tips which helped me get back on track, and a little timeline of how I would encourage you to get back into exercise from 0 to 16 weeks postpartum.
Sign off: No matter what type of labour you had it’s important to give your body time to heal after birth. Six weeks is the recommended amount of time to wait before attempting activity but personally, I recommend you really listen to your gut and your body. It takes nine months to make a baby and personally I feel it will take the same amount of time for your body to return after the trauma, so be kind to yourself. Even though you might feel like yourself, there’s a whole lot going on internally, mentally and hormonally.
Impact: It seems the first type of movement new mums opt for is running and I get it, it’s free, you can get out of the house and mentally it feels good. However, running or other high-impact activities early after childbirth may actually reduce your pelvic floor muscle strength and cause long-term bladder and bowel problems or pelvic organ prolapse. I personally didn’t start adding in impact movements to my workouts until twelve weeks and once I knew I could hold my pelvic floor for around 50 seconds. If you are experiencing back pain, vaginal heaviness or urine loss during or after exercise then please avoid impact movements until this has stopped.
Pressure: As a new mum we’re under so much pressure to be superhuman but it’s just not realistic. Lack of sleep, routine, different foods, hormones and a new little person to take care of will dampen your motivation and give you less time and energy so please be mindful. Personally, I found it easier to fit in exercise if i did it during the first morning nap that my daughter would have. I never moved for longer than 10 to 20 minutes but made sure I stuck to it three times a week. It was my ‘me time’ and trust me you need it, not just mentally but physically and you know what, you deserve that!
Why: Forget weightloss or getting your pre baby body back, moving your body should be important to you to make you stronger for your child. Breastfeeding, getting up from your bed with your little one in your arms and simply carrying him or her is hard on your body so focus on becoming stronger for them. Your body will naturally lose the weight so don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
0-3 Weeks Postnatal:
- Use of a bamboo Belly Wrap to help aid posture and core control.
- Diaphragmatic breathing, I’ve popped a little video to show you how it works here.
- Pelvic floor exercises, use of apps or trainers such as Elvie Trainer, 20% off with code: CARLY20
- No sit-ups, ab crunches, planks or mountain climbers.
3 -8 weeks Postnatal:
- Walking, adding a weighted backpack or perhaps having your child in a sling to add extra weight and core control.
- Swimming (once bleeding has stopped)
- Bodyweight low impact workouts.
- Postnatal classes or yoga.
- Pelvic Floor and Breathing work.
8-12 weeks Postnatal:
- Progression of the previous movements.
- Adding in weights to bodyweight movements.
- Testing impact movements such as skipping, running, jump squats. If you experience loss of bladder control then I’d recommend reverting to the previous weeks.
- Consider seeing a postnatal abdominal therapist or Womens Health Specialist to check your pelvic floor.
12+ weeks Postnatal:
- You can return to your previous activity levels provided your pelvic floor muscles have returned to normal and you’re not experiencing back pain, vaginal heaviness or urine loss during or after exercise.