Revitalise and thrive: Fitness guide for new mums
By PCYC Ashmore Gym+Fitness Manager, Helen Bailey
After your bundle of joy has arrived, you might be wondering when to start training again. First and foremost, please seek clearance from your doctor as to when it’s best to resume your fitness regime.
What are some of the benefits of exercise for postpartum women?
- It helps strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles.
- It boosts your energy.
- It may help prevent postpartum depression.
- It promotes better sleep.
- It relieves stress.
- It can help you lose the extra weight that you may have gained during pregnancy.
When can I start exercising after pregnancy?
If you had a healthy pregnancy and a normal vaginal delivery, you should be able to start exercising again soon after the baby is born. Usually, it is safe to begin exercising a few days after giving birth—or as soon as you feel ready, but it is best to seek your doctor’s approval first. If you had a caesarean birth or complications, ask your ob-gyn when it is safe to begin exercising again.
What are some guidelines I can follow when I begin exercising after pregnancy?
Aim to stay active for 20 to 30 minutes a day. When you first start exercising after childbirth, try simple postpartum exercises that help strengthen major muscle groups, including abdominal and back muscles.
Gradually add moderate-intensity exercise. If you exercised vigorously before pregnancy or are a competitive athlete, you can work up to vigorous-intensity activity.
Remember, even 10 minutes of exercise benefits your body, but if you start to feel any pains, please stop exercising.
Why do you have to wait 6 weeks after birth to work out at a high intensity?
It’s best to avoid high-impact exercise such as running or cardio workouts until at least your six-week postnatal check so your body has time to recover from the birth.
Postpartum workout tips
Don’t push it
There may be pressure out there to “bounce back,” but your body has been through an experience it needs to rest and heal from, not be put through exercise boot camp. Often, your baby will not allow you to rest or recover, so don’t feel at all guilty to take every free minute to lie down or sleep. Feed yourself, shower, nap… Exercise does not need to be a priority in the first weeks after giving birth.
Think a walk around the block, for your first time back to introducing movement into your life. You have to get to know your new body shape and abilities postpartum while also balancing your fatigue. Take a walk, lift half a kilo weight, or tin of spaghetti in front of the TV, or do some stretching on the floor to start. Build up at your own pace.
Listen to your body
Listen to your body. If you get tired, take a break. If you have the energy or feel that some exercise could give you some energy, try it. You could injure yourself trying too much too soon, so keep taking mental stock of how you are physically feeling. If you experience higher than usual bleeding this could mean you’ve pushed yourself too far and need to reel it back.
Involve your baby
Take your baby on a stroller walk or jog or take a walk while babywearing. Lift your baby up and down 10 times in a row as if they were a weight. Put them on the floor next to you while you do yoga. This will let you exercise for longer since you won’t have to stop to take care of their needs – they’ll already be there. Plus, it’s a nice time to bond.
Set realistic goals
The number on the scale isn’t the most effective measure of health. Set goals like being able to touch your toes, lifting your baby without your back aching, being able to walk or run for 5 minutes longer than yesterday, and other milestones unrelated to weight.
Whether you want to work on self-care, feeling more yourself again, flexibility, strength, or another fitness goal, celebrate the wins when you reach your target. Reward yourself with a book, a bath, or a treat—whatever makes you feel good—when you reach those achievements.
Postpartum fitness doesn’t have to be a chore. Make it fit with your new lifestyle by incorporating your new baby and respecting the limits of your body as you go. You’ll be able to build up to more and more over time, but there’s no need to rush. Focus on your health instead of weight loss and be gentle with yourself as you go at your own pace.
All of the information above is written inline with the AUSactive guidelines.