Pregnancy and childbirth are some of the most transformative experiences in a woman's life. Despite the joy of having a new baby, the physical and emotional toll of pregnancy and childbirth can be significant. Returning to exercise after childbirth can feel like a huge challenge, whether it's because of physical limitations, lack of time, or a lack of motivation. And it’s all too easy to forget to care for ourselves in the whirlwind of a newborn baby - it’s incredible how such a tiny little being can turn your whole life upside down! So here are some tips for returning to exercise after childbirth.
Tips for Returning to Exercise After Childbirth
- Get clearance from your doctor: Before returning to exercise after childbirth, it's a wise idea to get clearance from your doctor. Your body has gone through a lot of changes during pregnancy, and your doctor can help you determine when it's safe to resume physical activity. It’s a good idea to try and discuss this at your postnatal checkup with your GP - based on my own experience, this is a conversation that you will need to initiate so be prepared to do so!
- Start slowly: It's important to start slowly when returning to exercise after childbirth. Your body needs time to heal, and it's essential to avoid overexerting yourself. You may be breastfeeding a child, and regardless of that it’s unlikely that you’re getting quite as much sleep as you’d like. Start with gentle activities such as walking or yoga, and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. Listen to your body and don't push yourself too hard.
- Choose low-impact exercises: Low-impact exercises such as swimming and yoga can be a great way to ease back into exercise after childbirth. These activities are gentle on your joints and can help improve your cardiovascular fitness without putting too much strain on your body. A mum and baby focussed class, such as baby yoga, can offer a welcoming environment, suitably adapted exercises, and is also a great way to meet fellow new mums.
- Focus on your core: Pregnancy and childbirth can weaken your abdominal muscles, so you will want to focus on rebuilding your core strength. However, before doing too much core work, do ensure that you aren’t experiencing diastasis recti, where the abdominal muscles have separated. This is very common and normal during pregnancy and nothing to worry about - your muscles will usually return to their normal position around 8 weeks after giving birth. You can test this yourself, or your GP, health visitor, or a suitably qualified and experienced exercise professional may be able to help you decide whether you’re ready for core strengthening,.
- Get support: Returning to exercise after childbirth can be challenging, so it's important to get support from family, friends, or a fitness professional. Joining a postnatal exercise class can be a great way to meet other new mums and get the support and motivation you need to stay on track. If you decide to see a personal trainer, do be sure to ask them how much experience they have in working with new mums, and try to pick a professional with a particular interest in this area.
- Be kind to yourself: Remember that your body has gone through a lot of changes, and it may take time to regain your pre-pregnancy fitness level. You may well also find that your emotions are running a little wild, with the effects of your hormones shifting, lack of sleep, and perhaps also the discomfort of recovering from giving birth. It's just as ok to not feel like leaping straight back into your usual routine as it is to be desparate to get back to the gym. Don't compare yourself to anyone else, whether that be other new mums around you or celebrities and influencers online - your journey is your own, and you will do it in your own way. Don't get discouraged if you don't see immediate results, and be patient with yourself. Celebrate small successes, and remember that every little bit counts.
Benefits of Sports Massage for Postnatal Fitness
Sports massage is an effective way for new mums to support their postnatal fitness journey. Here are some of the benefits of sports massage:
- Reduces muscle tension: Sports massage can help alleviate muscle tension and stiffness caused by physical inactivity during pregnancy and childbirth, or by carrying a new - or not so new! - baby after giving birth. By increasing blood flow and oxygen to the muscles, sports massage can improve muscle recovery and reduce soreness.
- Improves flexibility: Sports massage can help improve flexibility and range of motion, which can be helpful when returning to exercise after childbirth. Increased flexibility can also reduce the risk of injury and improve overall performance.
- Reduces stress and anxiety: Sports massage can help reduce stress and anxiety, which can be beneficial for new mothers. The soothing effects of massage can promote relaxation and improve mood.
- Enhances recovery: Sports massage can enhance recovery after exercise by reducing inflammation and promoting muscle repair. This can help new mothers to recover more quickly from workouts and get back to their exercise routine sooner.
As a mum myself, I remember well the strange postnatal days of not knowing quite who I was any more, or how to use my body which seemed so strange to me after 9 months of pregnancy. I am here to support new mums in their postnatal period, in my calm, welcoming garden therapy room. Your baby is very welcome to come too if childcare proves to be a problem! Book online to come and regain a bit of time for yourself.
Author Hannah Tabram. Category Blog. First published Thu, 20 Apr 2023 12:01:54 +0100