Postnatal Exercise

Picture of mother and baby for post natal exerciseWhen you have a baby it is a life-changing experience that takes time to adapt to: getting to know your child and the new routines can be difficult, but it can also be a very rewarding time. A common mistake is that the mother will leave little time for herself, to look after herself and to sit back and relax. If she neglects her own well-being then she will begin to feel down about her appearance and start to feel the stress and strains of having a new born baby.

So today we are addressing the benefits of postnatal exercise.

For the first 2 weeks after giving birth

You should not carry anything heavier than your new baby, avoid all physical stress and you should not resume full daily activities for a minimum of 6 weeks (until after your postnatal check-up). If you delivered via caesarean section you should not exercise for 8 – 10 weeks allowing for proper healing time.

For the first 6 weeks after giving birth

This is the time for you and your child to enjoy gentle strolls outside to get away from the house, also for you to have some time to yourself and to avoid the feeling of being boxed in, giving you a chance to focus on the two most important people: your baby and you.

Exercise:

Gentle exercise 3 times a week
Avoid fatigue
It is very important to get adequate rest
There should be no exercise related pain or bleeding
Make sure the breasts are well supported (read our post on sports bras here – .)
At this stage it is not important to monitor your performance or progress, the exercises should be about feeling good and enhancing feelings of wellbeing
Only increase and decrease the exercise based on how you are feeling
Drink lots of fluids
Eat at regular intervals
Many women rush this stage, desperate to get there pre-pregnancy bodies back and trying to achieve this within 2 – 3 months. This is not a good idea and it could end up taking you twice as long to feel how you were feeling before being pregnant. The main point, at this stage, is to listen to your body and take it one step at a time; there is no need to rush – don’t give your body any more stress than it has already been through!

…and remember to breast feed before exercise.

From 6 weeks onwards

You will now feel more relaxed and settled into your routine, back in control again,caring for your baby and yourself, although you may still be finding it hard to find time for yourself (or anything for that matter – .).

So the main points that you will be looking for at this stage are:

To return to pre-pregnant weight
To tone up
To gain a flatter more toned tummy
To improve your overall body image
It is very important to write out achievable goals (read our previous post on goals here – .), do not over train, increase the workout load gradually step by step making sure that in your exercise programme you have included the following:

Aerobic fitness
Strength training
Endurance
Flexibility
Pelvic floor exercises
Finally be aware that high impact exercise may not be best for you yet as the pressure on the pelvic floor may increase the risk of stress incontinence (small leak of urine), which underlines the importance of those pelvic floor exercises!

The benefits of post natal exercise being:
Improved pelvic floor strength
Maintenance of a healthy weight
Better quality of sleep
Reduced risk of injury and joint problems
Better balance and co-ordination
Increased stamina
Increased day to day energy levels
Reduced anxiety & stress
Help build self confidence
Increased metabolic rate
Weight loss
Toning
Summary

Quite simply it is essential that you listen to your body, don’t rush and exercise sensibly. Your body will have been through a lot and it does need that time to recover. Good luck with your training enjoy the newcomer and be safe.