We’re not a bunch of eejits. We all KNOW exercise is important yada yada, but do you know why exercise is particularly important for post-partum women?
Let me tell you the ways AND how to gently ease your way back into being a fit mama!
To be clear, I’m not suggesting we should all bust a gut Michelle Bridges style. Busting a gut is exactly what we want to avoid – those separated abdominal muscles need to be treated gently, after all. And that’s precisely where post-partum exercise comes into play.
Why is exercise important?
Post-partum exercise is particularly important for our physical health, but also our mental health. There’s a lot to be said for getting out in the fresh air instead of cooping ourselves up inside all day.
Should I expect my body to bounce back?
No. Or at least, not straight away. Your body has just done AMAZING things! It’s grown a whole extra human – or two or three! You can’t expect it to return to being exactly the same body as it was prior to pregnancy. Your hips might be a little wider, your boobs may be bigger and for sure you’re going to be next-level tired.
When should I start exercising?
If you had a trouble-free pregnancy and birth, it’s usually ok to start gently exercising as soon as you feel ready (this is most likely to be around six weeks). If you had a caesarean birth or other birth complications, ask your health care professional when it is safe to begin exercising again.
5 Easy Peasy Post-Partum Exercises
Firstly, walking is a great start. It can be as easy or as simple as getting out and about by taking a stroll with your baby in the pram. In the early days, you don’t need to be pounding the pavement at high speed, just get out in the fresh air. As your fitness improves, turn up your pace or carry your bub in a baby carrier for a weight lifting workout too. Sweet!
Tone your pelvic floor and bladder muscles! The more kegels you do, and the longer you hold them, the better control you will have over those leaks caused by sneezing, laughing, or picking up your baby. To do a kegal, contract and hold the muscles that control the flow when you pee. Still not sure what I’m talking about? Next time you’re on the toilet, try stopping mid-stream, hold it and then release. Those are the muscles I’m talking about. Congrats, you just did your first kegal!
3. Pelvic Bridge
According to Parents, you can do this move from around six weeks post delivery. Lie on your back with feet hip-width apart, knees bent. Inhale, then exhale as you draw your abs up and in toward your spine. Tilt your pelvis up, lifting your hips off the floor making a bridge shape. Slowly lower down to starting position. Repeat 5 times, building up to 10. Start nice and gentle and, as your body gains strength, use your bub as a weight – holding them as you make a bridge.
A fantastic non-weight bearing exercise, swimming laps can be a relaxing and gentle workout for the body. Wait until your post-partum bleeding has stopped before diving in and enjoy the freedom of the water with every stroke!
5. Don’t stop moving!
Once your fitness improves, think about stepping it up a level. Join a gym or do some gentle pilates, yoga or even a spin class. Exercising with a group (particularly new mums) is awesome for keeping motivated. Furthermore, when joining a gym – look for one with a creche service, such as Fernwood Fitness. This is one service that sure does come in handy for us mums!
Of course, it’s always wise to consult your doctor before getting stuck into heavy-duty, more vigorous exercise. Therefore, be sure to put it on your list of things to ask at your post-partum check-up.
Exercise and moving your body is one of the things mums need to do for themselves, to feel like they can take on whatever the day throws at then. Want to have a giggle? Read this funny tale about the reality of returning to exercise after kids. Enjoy!