Places Pointer: Post-Natal Exercise

How to exercise safely after pregnancy

Staying active after pregnancy can seem overwhelming. From knowing what exercises you can and can’t do to finding the time to exercise, there’s a lot to take in, especially when you’re navigating recovery and a demanding sleep/feed schedule. There can also be some pressure to ‘bounce back’, which only adds to the list.

The good thing is that there is a lot of information out there about post-natal exercise. Keeping fit or starting new activities after you’ve had a baby has benefits for both of you! Small amounts of exercise can relieve stress, aid sleep, and boost your energy levels. Including physical activity in your routine also helps to set a great example for your child in the years to come!

“For post-natal exercise, the benefits are vast.” says Hayley Barron, one of our personal trainers and specialists. “The key benefits are of course a quicker post-natal recovery, an improvement to your posture, and increased local muscular endurance, stamina. and energy. Exercising will increase your metabolic rate and can lead to faster weight loss as a result.”

“It can also improve your body image and self confidence, and reduce anxiety levels by allowing time solely for yourself, away from the demands of a new baby.”

Some recommendations to follow are:

  • If you want to go swimming, you’ll need to wait until any post-natal bleeding has stopped and any stitches have healed.
  • Prefer high-impact activities such as jogging or aerobics? Wait until at least 3 to 6 months after giving birth. If you get back to high-impact exercise too early, you could strain muscles in your back and pelvic floor.
  • If you’ve reached out to a personal trainer to help enhance your fitness routine, ensure they specialise in post-natal exercise and offer targeted guidance that supports you through the physical and emotional changes after childbirth. A specialised programme can be designed by our personal trainers with the relevant qualification.
  • Don’t underestimate rest and recovery. Your body needs at least six weeks to recover from the birth, don’t be tempted to overtrain when trying to get back to it. Listen to your body!
  • Remember to look after your mental health too! Exercise can help to boost your mood, but other alternatives that may help are making time to rest, accepting help with caring for your baby, or visiting postnatal groups.
Two Column Post Natal Swimming

If the birth was straightforward, you can begin with gentle exercise such as walking or stretching as soon as you feel up to it. If you had a caesarean or more complex delivery, your recovery time will be longer.

In addition to the external physical changes to the body during pregnancy, there are internal changes to be aware of too. Muscles in the lower back and core may be weaker than they used to be, and ligaments and joints are also more delicate for a few months after birth, so there's an increased risk of injury if you stretch or twist too much. Your GP will also need to evaluate whether you have diastasis recti (abdominal separation).

We offer a range of classes at a selection of our centres to support mums in maintaining their fitness both before and after having a baby, such as Post Natal Fitness Pilates, along with sessions that mums and babies can attend together. Check out what your local centre offers here.

These recommendations of course depend on a couple of things. It’s standard procedure to have a postnatal check-up between six to eight weeks after giving birth with your GP, so if you’re in any doubt about exercising and whether it’s safe to do so, this check-up is a good chance to see what kind of exercise and how much of it you can do moving forward.

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