If you were use to exercising before having your baby then there will be no doubt that you are thinking about post pregnancy exercise. However, there are a number of factors making postnatal exercise harder. Your strength and fitness levels will be reduced, your time is impossibly squeezed and you’re probably functioning on very little sleep.
Here are my top tips and safety advice for you before heading back into mainstream exercise.
Before you enroll on Postnatal exercise
The first step to starting exercise again is to get the all clear from your doctor at your six week (If normal delivery) or eight week (if cesarean section). Check up. It is important to give your body the time it needs to recover before getting back in the gym. Use this time wisely, drink plenty of water, get some sleep (when you can) walk lots and eat nutrient-dense foods to get your body in the best position possible for your return to exercise.
Once you have been given the all clear postnatal exercise should start with a gentle, yet progressive, core and pelvic floor restoration programme. If you were use to sweating, breathlessness, lactic acid workout, pre baby you may find this part of the programme, but I can’t emphasis enough how important these exercises are.
You want to be practicing your pelvic floor and core exercises at least three times a week. Remember, our core and pelvic floor are integral to every movement we do, and as they loosen and weaken throughout pregnancy, they need extra TLC once the baby’s out.
How To Know If You’re Ready To Exercise
Not all doctors do it automatically, but make sure you ask them to check your abs for diastasis recti, or ab separation (How to test for diastasis recti). If you have it, you’ll have to be even more careful with core work to prevent further ‘doming’
When Should You Exercise
There are a number of exercises that you can do incorporating baby including, squats and lunges holding them, hip lifts with them rest on your hips and press ups when you kiss them on the for head. (exercises you can do with baby).
A warning on HIIT and breastfeeding. It is worthwhile noting that milk production is likely to slow during HIIT exercise so it is even more important to stay hydrated. Avoid breastfeeding within the hour directly following HIIT may reduce the amount of lactic acid passed on via your milk.
Don’t forget your own nutritional needs, and the need to fuel up before and after the gym, even more so for breastfeeding mums as remember breastfeeding uses up about 300-500 extra calories a day.
The most important thing to remember is that your body has gone through enormous changes, so take it slowly. Remember do not compare yourself to other, or even your pre pregnancy self. I always tell new mums it took nine months to grow this baby so don’t expect your baby to pop back overnight. Everyone’s body will react differently to pregnancy so give yourself time, be patient and don’t forget to enjoy this time as a new mum.
It’s frustrating, yes, but take it slow now and in the long run your body will thank you.