As the haze of those early days with a newborn start to disperse and “baby brain” moments happen less often, you may think fondly of your pre-baby body, and naturally; wonder when it is safe to start exercising again. For some mums with time and energy constraints, a walk most days is a huge achievement and is great for your psychological well-being; however, for other mums, the burning question of “when can I return to my “normal” exercise?” is a big focus and needs to be answered.
After about six weeks, when your GP or obstetrician has given you the “all clear” to exercise and prior to starting back at the gym or going for a run, it is sensible to seek advice from a trained pelvic health physiotherapist to design an individualised strengthening program and provide advice on exercises to avoid or to focus on. In terms of returning to pre-baby exercise, there is no “one-size-fits-all” rule for when this is safe, so it is important to listen to your health practitioner and to your body.
Important points to consider
Abdominal wall stretching affects 100% of pregnant and postpartum women and whilst abdominal curls/crunches are not recommended for everyone, this exercise may be necessary for
assisting abdominal recovery so be guided by a professional before performing abdominal exercises.
It is advised to focus on abdominal and back muscle strengthening and endurance after mastering adequate pelvic floor contraction.
Your muscles may respond very differently after having a baby and it will take time to build back your pre-baby strength. While it may be tempting to push yourself, muscle soreness may affect your ability to function as a mum so be gentle on your body to start with and if you tolerate the initial intensity, increase the challenge next time.
Hydration and adequate nutrition are exceptionally important, especially if you are breastfeeding. Some babies don’t like the taste of breast milk after the mother has exercised.
Wear supportive clothing and a well-fitted bra to minimise damage to breast tissue and the chance of developing mastitis from over-compression of the breasts. Also, research shows that exercise gear can be motivating so some colourful, flattering exercise clothing may be a great way to feel empowered in your post-partum body.
Be guided by your body, enjoy the endorphins and have fun!
We have included 6 great exercises that you can start from 6 weeks to get ready for running or more loaded exercise at 12 weeks: