Even before you’ve been given the green light to start exercising again (usually around six weeks) there are things you can do to help your body recover. Here, our fitness expert Charlie Launder, head of pre and post natal fitness at Lomax, outlines a gentle plan to help you back on your feet in the early weeks.
DO – Rest! Rest! Rest! This is so important, because if you don’t rest in the early stages your body can’t recover properly and the whole process will take longer. Get as much sleep as you can (!) and let your friends and family help out as much as possible.
AVOID – Lifting. Give your body the recovery time it needs and leave the lifting to other people. Yes your baby is light but lifting her in and out of the bassinet can be awkward in terms of movement so be careful.
DO – Get walking! Fresh air will do wonders for making you feel alive again. It’s a great idea to start getting out of the house again, see your friends and the bonus is that babies love sleeping in the buggy.
AVOID – Planning too much into your day. The life of a new mum is a demanding one and can feel exhausting at times so rather than failing to fulfil your chores for the day, it is better to plan one or two things and take your time.
DO – Pelvic floor exercises. Just because you’ve not been given the green light to go back to exercise yet this doesn’t mean you can’t start doing some work to begin building up your pelvic floor strength again. This doesn’t mean getting into your gym kit and going crazy but pelvic squeezes can be done absolutely anywhere so get into the habit now.
AVOID – Getting ahead of yourself. You may be feeling up to full strength again but don’t rush into it. Ease yourself back into your active lifestyle slowly and steadily, testing the waters as you go.
DO – Make sure you are eating enough to get you through your busy days as a mum. If you are breastfeeding this is even more important as your baby will be zapping all your energy sources if you’re not careful. And keep up the pelvic floor exercises!
AVOID – Dehydration. You may find you are always thirsty. Do not ignore this, drink as much water as you can, especially if you are breastfeeding. Dehydration will change the consistency of your milk and you baby may go hungry!
DO – Have your abdominals checked. It is common to have a slight separation (diastasis recti) after birth and the more aware of it you are, the more likely you will be able to help close the gap. Ask your doctor in your next checkup if they don’t check it for you.
AVOID – Crunches and planks. I know you want your flat stomach back as soon as possible but exercises like these that cause intra-abdominal pressure will only serve to push your abdominals out even more rather than knit them together.
DO – Seek the advice of a personal trainer for your introduction back into the gym after having your baby. You may feel confident you know what you’re supposed to be doing but it can be really helpful to have a professional check your strength and just make you aware of anything you need to avoid in terms of your specific postnatal recovery. They will be able to give you exercises that will help you personally and ensure that you get your body back in the best way for you.
AVOID – Disappointment. It is only normal to be at a lower fitness level to that of before pregnancy so don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t start with the heaviest weights or the longest run. See how you feel and increase the intensity as and when you’re ready to.