It can be hard to know when to start exercising after having a baby. Read our guide for some great new mum exercise tips.
Pregnancy can be hard on your body. There's no escaping the fact that everything changes a little as your body adapts and grows to accommodate its precious cargo. Once your baby is born, not all of us ping back into shape as soon as the media would like us to. And do you know what? That's fine.
The pressures on new mums to be able to perform as the perfect mum and partner, slip into skinny jeans without any effort and be happy about it all can be immense!
On the flip side, we'd just like to point out that if fitting back into your pre-pregnancy jeans is on to-do list, then that's fine too. The most important thing is that you are happy and you're not punishing yourself for something amazing that your body did.
With that said, here is a really quick guide on exercise for new mums, for those wanting to get out there and make some positive changes, post-baby. Good luck!
Depending on their birth experience, most women are able to start gentle exercise around six weeks after your baby is born. Do check with your GP or Health Visitor at your six week postnatal appointment to double check that you’re healing well, have no problems that might make exercise a bad idea and to raise concerns about any injuries or strains you may have had.
If you had a Caesarean section, the general advice is to wait 12 weeks after the birth before starting to take part in any strenuous exercise - but really, it depends on the individual, so if you're not sure, then it's best to check.
The biggest hurdle to get past when it comes to exercise after baby is usually psychological. It's normal to feel self-conscious after giving birth - your body is going to look and feel different and your fitness levels might not be what they once were but don't let this put you off. We all have to start somewhere and making small first step to improving fitness is the best place to begin.
Using Exercise to Boost Your Mood
One of the best pieces of advice I was given as a new mum was to get out with the pushchair every day if I could. I would even go out for walks in the rain once I realised how fantastic a tip this was. Not only was I getting fresh air and spending precious time with my baby but I was boosting my mood immeasurably too. When we exercise, endorphins are triggered in the body that are natural mood elevators. They make us feel good, reduce stress and help us to sleep better, too. So, even if you're not bothered about those skinny jeans just yet, even gentle exercise is going to be good for the soul.
Don't Forget the Pelvic Floor!
Being pregnant and giving birth puts a lot of pressure on your pelvic floor muscles, so this is one area that we all need to focus on pretty much as soon as we give birth. Pelvic floor exercises are so important - please don't skip them!
You won't be running marathons two weeks after giving birth – if you tried, you’d probably be in a lot of pain and you don’t want to set yourself unachievable goals either. Start slowly. Doctors say that it can take around two years for your body to return to normal after giving birth, so give yourself time to get back into the game. Don't forget that taking care of a new baby is itself pretty demanding, so adding in a gruelling workout regime too soon might not be the best idea.
Recruit Some Friends
Everything is better with friends! Having a workout buddy can help to motivate and encourage us to keep going - and it is a lot more fun too! Take a look online for local buggy fit classes, or gym classes that you can go to with friends.
You're more likely to stick to a form of exercise if you’re having fun too, so don't go for classes that you know you're going to hate.
What are your top tips for exercising after baby?