There is very little advice out there for women returning to exercise after birth and the aim of this blog is to collate all the information you need to safely return to exercise after birth.
There are a few main points to be aware of when considering going back to exercise after pregnancy. The first is that your lower back and core abdominal muscles may be weaker than they used to be. The second is that your ligaments and joints are more flexible after birth, so there is an increased risk of injury. Pregnancy hormones stay in your body for up to 3 months after pregnancy, meaning the laxity in the joints, muscles and ligaments will remain for that period of time as well. For those mothers who breast-feed their baby, the hormones can remain for 2-3 months after breast-feeding stops.
Exercise Prescription for natural births:
6-12 weeks Postpartum:
- Begin pelvic floor and deep abdominal exercise from 1-2 days
- Gentle walking when pain allows (within first week)
- Gradually increase walking distance and speed (10% each week)
6-12 weeks Postpartum:
- Pelvic floor assessment recommended before return to high-impact exercise
- Pilates is very beneficial
- Continue to progressively increase intensity 12 weeks +
- Return to running/high impact exercise can be possible
Tips for Returning to Exercises:
- If you are breastfeeding, then feed before exercise to increase your comfort whilst exercising
- Drink plenty of water
- Seek help if it does not ‘feel right’
Exercise Prescription for C-sections:
If you have had a C-section the advice is slightly different. During the first 6 weeks it is advised that you allow your body to fully rest and when your baby has their 6 week check-up, speak to the practitioner about returning to exercise. It is also advised to see a Woman’s Health Specialist or a Sports Therapist/Physiotherapist who has worked with lots of postpartum women. They can guide you through the best way to get back into exercise and normal life.
Postpartum can be a strange time, and getting to understand and navigate your new body takes time. If you have any aches or pains, it is always best to get them looked at and taken care of. If you have any questions you can book a call with Lauren, our postnatal recovery expert.