Postnatal exercise can feel quite intimidating, regardless of your fitness levels before you gave birth. Yes, you’ve introduced a baby to the world: proof that your body is capable of doing amazing things. But getting back into fitness is one of those things that require careful planning and preparation, especially after having a baby.
In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about postnatal exercise so that you can return to your old routines and workout safely and efficiently. If you require any further information do not hesitate to get in touch with the number one personal trainer in Murrumbeena.
What are the benefits of postnatal exercise?
Exercising after giving birth to your baby can help improve your physical and mental health. Some of the well-known benefits of postnatal exercise include:
- Firm up the upper body and restore your strength levels
- Raises your energy levels which combat tiredness and promote good sense of wellbeing
- Promotes weight loss
- Improve your cardiovascular fitness
- Tone your abdominal muscles
- Stabilises your mood and relieves stress
- Helps prevent postpartum depression
When can you start doing postnatal exercises?
Regardless of how well or not so well your birthing experience was, it’s highly recommended that you see a Pelvic Health specialist Physiotherapist prior to re commencing any form of exercise. They will provide a thorough examination of your pelvic floor region and guide you in the right direction for your specific needs.
Steady-state exercises like walking can be picked up as soon as you feel comfortable after giving birth. Get a good feel for your body and introduce a couple of exercises gradually. Some women feel comfortable exercising a few days after giving birth. Of course, things are quite different if you had a C-section so we recommend you talk to your health care provider about starting an exercise program.
Most of the changes in the body that occurred during pregnancy will have returned to normal on average after six weeks. If you had complications after birth, it may take a little longer for your body to fully recover. It’s okay if you were inactive during pregnancy. It’s best to start doing low-impact exercises and slowly build up from there. Again, be guided by what your pelvic health physio tells you.
Do note that your core muscles and lower back are weaker than before. Your joints and ligaments are now more supple as well, thus increasing your risk of injury if you twist or stretch too much. When picking exercises, avoid those that involve rapid directional changes or sudden movements.
Is it okay to do postnatal exercises while breastfeeding?
Research has shown that regular exercise has no adverse effects on a mother’s breastfeeding ability, so long they maintain their fluid and calorie intake. However, some data suggest that high-intensity exercise can cause lactic acid buildup in breast milk and create a sour taste. If you’re breastfeeding, you should stick to low to moderate-intensity exercises while also drinking plenty of water during your workout routines.
How to create time for postnatal exercise
Finding time for postnatal exercise can be quite difficult, especially when you’re caring for your newborn. There will be days where you feel tired to even work out, but that doesn’t mean you should skip exercising altogether. Some suggestions to include postnatal exercise into your daily schedule are:
- Ask for support from your spouse, family, and friends. If you can, find an exercise partner to help keep you motivated.
- Walking is a great way to stay in shape after giving birth. It’s free and you can do it anytime, anywhere.
- Have someone care for your baby while you do postnatal exercises. This will enable you to focus more on your workouts.
- It’s okay to exercise for 10 minutes at a time. You don’t have to exercise for an hour to keep your fitness levels in check. Break down your workouts into manageable pieces and go at a pace that feels comfortable to you.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself if your workout routines fall flat. Remember, you just had a baby and it’s really difficult to push yourself to the limit. It’s not about the intensity, but the consistency that will make a difference. Do the best you can and you’ll start feeling better about your workouts.
- Tummy and pelvic floor exercises can be done in either the standing or sitting position. You can incorporate these movements into your daily tasks. Such exercises are a great way to stay active and you can do them for around 5 minutes at a time.
- For short trips, walk your baby instead of driving the car. It gives you good exercise and allows for bonding time with your baby.
- Seek expert advice on how to perform exercises correctly. Improper form can lead to serious injury, especially now that your joints and ligaments are still recovering. Take it easy and pick a set of exercises that you feel comfortable doing.
General safety tips
Before you start postnatal exercise, it’s important to be guided by your GP and Pelvic health physiotherapist. Your safety is your top priority so make sure to wear appropriate workout clothes and keep yourself hydrated at all times. Some general safety tips include:
- Wear an appropriate support bra with good support. Your pre-pregnancy sports bras likely won’t fit you anymore since your back and cup size have changed. Get measured for a new one and see how comfortable your workouts will be.
- If you feel any pain or discomfort during exercise, stop immediately. Describe the pain to your health professional and ask if you should continue doing postnatal exercise or just stop and recover for the time being.
Good luck with your return to health and Movement and please remember.
Be kind to yourself, this is for the long game, not a quick fix.