How To Return To A Fitness Regime Post-Baby
Dos and don’ts and when to start
Guest post: This blog post was written by Hadyn Luke, Contract Manager for CMS Fitness Courses (CMSFitness). CMSFitness is a specialist in delivering internationally recognised health and fitness industry qualifications to young people and adults across Yorkshire, Humberside and the North of England.
With a new bundle of joy needing round-the-clock attention, implementing a fitness regime after you’ve had a baby isn’t always easy. But returning to exercise fairly soon following giving birth comes with a whole host of benefits for all new mums. In this post, we explore when is the ideal time to begin exercising after having a baby and what you should include to ensure an effective and rewarding post-baby fitness regime is achieved.
One of the most important things to remember when returning to a post-baby fitness regime is to ease back into exercise slowly. You need to be patient, realistic and build your fitness back up gradually.
The six weeks rule of thumb
It is generally advised that new mums wait until their six-week postnatal check-up before embarking on an exercise regime. If you have had a Caesarean section you should leave exercising for a little longer, more like twelve weeks following the birth, in order to give your body enough time to recover and recuperate.
Best post-birth exercises
With everything your body has been through, it is advisable to stick to a low impact exercise regime as you ease yourself back into exercise.
A good way to start a low intensity regime is by doing gentle forms of exercise such as walking and even cycling.
Pushing your baby to the park, shops or around the block fairly briskly can be a good place to start, just remember to keep your back nice and straight and wear some comfortable shoes, such as trainers.
Another good post-baby exercise is squatting. You can practice squatting from virtually anywhere so it should fit well into your hectic schedule!
Simply keep your knees bent, your back straight and squat down slowly to strengthen your thigh muscles and buttocks. Gradually increase the number of squats you do in a session as you start to feel your muscles become stronger.
Pelvic floor exercises
Research has long shown that carrying out regular pelvic floor exercises during and after pregnancy helps prevent incontinence and prolapse, aids an easier birth and help new mums recover more quickly.
This type of exercise involves sitting or lying down with your knees slightly apart and pulling your muscles around your back passage and bladder, as if you are trying to stop the passing of urine. After several seconds of squeezing, let go, rest and then repeat.
As the parents’ charity the NCT advises, “With these exercises, quality is better than quantity; it’s much better to do a few good squeezes at a time than lots of squeezes incorrectly.”
Again the number of repetitions should be built up slowly and gradually as you start to feel your pelvic muscles becoming tighter.
Postnatal yoga is suitable for all new mums, including those who have had a C-section. This gentle form of exercise involves movement, balance, breathing and relaxation, designed to help the body heal and repair the tissues and muscles back into their former condition.
Other benefits of postnatal yoga include restoring hormonal balance, building strength in the spine, easing pressure on the nervous system, and reducing anxiety and depression, amongst others.
What’s particularly great about postnatal yoga is that some classes encourage you to do it with your baby. Ask your health visitor or local leisure centre about postnatal yoga classes.
Personal Trainers and gyms
Seeking expert advice from a personal trainer about postnatal exercises and training is another option for new mums. A professional and experienced personal trainer will be able to help you develop a postnatal fitness regime that is tailored to your specific requirements and objectives after you’ve had a baby.
Or ask your local gym or leisure centre about postnatal exercise programmes. Some gyms have trainers that have been specifically trained in pre and postnatal exercise and fitness care and could be just the motivation you need to help you get into an appropriate postnatal fitness schedule.
Avoid high impact exercise
After giving birth, not only are you likely to be feeling bruised but your core abdominal and back muscles are likely to be weaker than they were before your pregnancy and will need to be built back up slowly. Ligaments and joints tend to be slacker than their pre-pregnancy condition and if tested too vigorously too soon, you’ll run the risk of contracting a knee, ankle, hips, pelvis and even spine injury.
High impact and high intensity exercises should therefore be avoided until at least three – five months after the birth of a baby. Activities such as long, fast-paced runs, hill work, aerobic classes, and other vigorous sports, should be avoided for at least several months, in order to give your body enough time to recover before putting it under pressure.
Frequency of exercise
Post-baby exercise should be gentle and gradual and naturally the frequency and strenuousness of the activity will be influenced by how much exercise you did prior to becoming pregnant. It is important to build up a post-baby fitness regime by starting with gentle exercise a couple of times a week and gradually increasing to a more frequent exercise schedule, in which four or five days a week are spent exercising.
Remember, throughout your pregnancy and labour, your body had undergone some immense changes and you will need to give it plenty of time to recover and repair. Start off slowly and gradually build your fitness regime up and don’t despair if the weight doesn’t fall off immediately.
How have you found your return to a fitness regime post baby? Leave a comment below with your tips for bouncing back post-baby.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before beginning any new exercise regime.