So, you have just had a baby and got your body back now you want to get back into some sort of exercise. You are not feeling quite like you did pre pregnancy and maybe you are not quite as fit as you were pre-pregnancy. How do you build yourself back up? Is there anything you should avoid? Are there certain timeframes you should be aware of? This blog is a general guidance for women returning to exercise after pregnancy, but every woman and every pregnancy is individual so listen to your body and your health professionals.
Firstly, if you have had a caesarean your return to exercise will be delayed longer than a vaginal birth. You can begin simple abdominal exercises around 4-6 weeks after birth pending on your recovery and healing. Following this the advice in this blog is geared towards vaginal births so just simply add 6 weeks onto each recommendation.
In the first 4-6 weeks your hormones are still high and increase the elasticity of your ligaments. This means you may be more mobile or flexible than when not pregnant; be careful this increases your injury risk! That being said it is a good time to slowly reintroduce some abdominal exercises (not sit ups!) to assist in decreasing separation and improving pelvic floor which will help return to further exercises.
If you have had an uncomplicated pregnancy and birth you can safely begin walking soon after birth. This can help build you back up to running, cycling or any other physical activity you were completing beforehand. If you were not previously active prior to pregnancy this would be an awesome place to begin. This exercise is easier too because you and your baby can enjoy this together.
For those of you wanting to return or try out weighted exercises or high impact exercises (running) gradually returning to this is important. Try beginning with body weight exercises before moving back to weights to make sure you are comfortable and the abdominal area is supported, this will also help with technique when returning to more intense activities. If you wish to return to something like running this process may start with body weight exercises (squats and lunges would be great!). When that is comfortable try some plyometric exercises like landing of a step and progress to landing with one leg to simulate running.
This blog is a great starting point for all mums returning to exercise whether its your first baby or not. However, it is important for you to consider your individual situation and consult with your doctor prior to starting a program. If you are ready to begin a program why not consult with our women’s health exercise physiologist Eden!