Whether you were highly active before falling pregnant or not, the benefits of exercise after giving birth are endless – not only the healing aspects and but social ones too.
What’s important to remember is that you shouldn’t jump headfirst into a new exercise routine without first consulting a medical professional.
Your GP is a great place to start and following this; a physiotherapist is an ideal partner to guide you along the journey to achieve your personal health and fitness goals.
Many new mums are eager for speedy results, hoping to wind back the clock nine months earlier to pre-baby body. Consider the amount of stress your body will have been put under during pregnancy and giving birth.
Be kind to yourself and ease back into exercise slowly.
Following the birth of your baby, your pelvic floor, abdominal muscles and lower back will have lost strength and tone.
You might also find yourself using muscles that have been previously inactive when holding and caring for your newborn. This in itself warrants gentle strengthening for control and injury prevention.
These are my top three gentle toning and strengthening exercises for new mums:
- Pelvic floor muscle exercises
Start by toning on the inside to prevent any incontinence issues. You may or may not have commenced pelvic floor exercises prior to the birth of your child, perhaps even before falling pregnant.
Either way, start to strengthen these muscles by intentionally interrupting your urine flow while on the toilet. Hold the flow for a couple of seconds or as long as you can before allowing the flow to resume. Once you have a grasp of this, it’s best to begin practice away from the toilet avoiding urine retention issues.
Complete five to ten contractions a couple of times a day while feeding or bracing to lift your child.
- Body weight exercises
Lifting and carrying your baby can be strenuous on your body. Bodyweight exercises are the perfect starting point to not only tone but also improve your endurance for moving about with baby as he or she grows.
Two great exercises I recommend for new mums are push ups and squats.
Go easy on your body – perform a few push up repetitions how you feel most comfortable – whether this is stabilising your hands on a chair or park bench or completing them on the floor resting on either your knees or toes. Start with a small number of repetitions and ensure you dip deeply for the best results.
To get the most out of the movement, perform squats holding your baby to get extra benefits for your upper body in this lower and mid-section focused exercise.
Starting with feet hip width apart, holding baby in front of your chest, lower your body, pushing your bottom backwards getting your thighs as close to parallel as possible. Push back up to a standing position through your heels.
- Gentle cardio
With advice from your doctor, you can round out this routine with regular walking as soon after birth as you feel comfortable.
Walking outdoors, weather permitting, means you and your baby get fresh air into your lungs, vitamin D on your skin and see new scenery.
None of these exercises should cause you pain, if they do, consult a medical professional before continuing. To be safe, consider Back In Motion Health Group’s post natal group fitness classes Mums & Bubs.
These are small classes of four or less participants (plus their babies) guided by a qualified physio who tends to your unique needs. Read more about the benefits not only for you, but baby too, here.