Post Natal Exercise
- Make sure you get the all clear from your GP before re-commencing your exercise program. If there were no complications with the birth you should get the all clear by about 6-8 weeks, or 10 weeks after a C-section.
- Remember, just because baby is no longer “on board” it does not mean you can instantly return to the level of intensity you were training at before pregnancy. Massive physiological and emotional changes have taken place in your body and you should give yourself time to adjust to this.
- Relaxin (the stretch hormone) is still present in the body for up to five months after birth (and has been found in blood tests after 18 months after the birth!), so developmental stretches and advanced yoga postures are still to be avoided.
- Every woman recovers from pregnancy and birth at a different rate, some find they can exercise sooner than others. Don’t be fooled by all of the celebrity mass weight losses seen in the press…these people have an army of trainers, nutritionists and child carers around them to facilitate this speedy change. In the real world, life gets in the way, especially with a new baby and very little sleep! It will probably take about 12 months to get back into shape, so relax and take the pressure off yourself. Enjoy your new baby and strike a healthy balance between gentle exercise and home life. A SENSIBLE WEIGHT LOSS IS 1 TO 2 LBS PER WEEK.
- A good trainer will help you to get back into shape and it is important to be honest with him/her. If you have had little sleep (which lets face it is pretty common during the early years) then let your trainer know and maybe your workout can be postponed or a gentler session undertaken that day. Also be honest about any activities that might be causing leakage of breast milk, if you are breastfeeding this may be quite significant at first.
- It is very common that your shoe size will increase during pregnancy, so get your feet properly measure and ensure you have correctly fitting supportive trainers. Remember Relaxin is still prevalent within your body so it is essential that your ankles are stable and supported.
- Avoid running and jumping for at least six months-Relaxin has softened and stretched your joints and ligaments and so any impact could cause them to buckle and bow, putting you at risk from injury. Your pelvic floor may not be up to impact just yet either!
- Ensure you wear a properly fitting supportive sports bra, if it is too tight it can cause mastitis and if it is not supportive enough the ligaments of your chest will become permanently stretched and can cause poor posture. A good bra will reduce the risk of stretch marks and discomfort.
- If breastfeeding, remember to wear breast pads and try to feed or express before exercising. Some arm movements in particular may promote milk flow so talk to your instructor about this.
- Drink plenty of water before and during exercising, especially if breastfeeding: do not restrict liquid intake because of fear of leakage. Remember those pelvic floor exercises and any leakage should cease.
- To start to shed those baby pounds it is important to train at the right intensity and build up a sweat! Use the “Rate Of Perceived Exertion” to monitor your training intensity: 1=RELAXED, NO EXERTION AND 10=COMPLETELY OUT OF BREATH, MAXIMUM EFFORT. You should aim to train at about level 7 to 8 and aim to stay in this training zone for about 20 to 30 minutes three or more times a week. Build up slowly, start off with 10 minutes and gradually build up to half an hour, remember the extended warm up and cool down must be factored into this too.
- Pelvic floor muscle exercises must be practiced every day and must be a combination of slow held contractions and short pulsing contractions. AVOID SIT UPS AND CRUNCHES UNTIL ABSOLUTELY SURE THAT THE ABDOMINAL WALL HAS MET BACK TOGETHER. Your midwife should be able to tell you if you still have Diastasis Recti (Separation of the abdominal wall). Beginners/Pre and Post Natal Pilates should be perfect for getting the abdominals functioning correctly but make sure you inform your instructor about your recent pregnancy and any complications that occurred.
- Heavy weight training is not advised until the abdominals and pelvic floor are back in shape, build up slowly to weights and strength training. Moderate weights and bodyweight exercises are advisable at this time.
Please contact me to discuss your exact requirements and to get back into training ASAP!
Exercise During Pregnancy
Pre / Post Natal Exercise
0 to 13 weeks/1 to 3 months
14 to 26 weeks/ 4 to 6 months
27 to 40 weeks/ 7 to 9 months
When To Stop
When to cease exercising during pregnancy