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Postnatal exercise – what can you safely do?

Family sport - jogging with baby

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For some women it’s a hobby they’re enthusiastic about, for others it’s a means to an end but whatever your view on exercise, you may be keen to get back into the swing of it once your baby is born. Postnatal exercise really is the best way to help regain your pre-pregnancy figure but before you head to the gym there are a few points to consider.

Wait until after your check up

The first is to wait until after your six-week (or 10-week if you’ve had a Caesarean) check. Remember that your body has been through a lot in the past few months and needs time to recover and readjust. By rushing into anything you may end up doing more harm than good. In the meantime, concentrate on giving your pelvic floor a workout. You’ll be glad you did when you start your fitness programme as activities like running, aerobics or even sit-ups can put a strain on these muscles. Religiously doing pelvic floor exercises reduces the risk of embarrassing leaks when you do start getting fit again.

Once your GP has given you the all clear, take things gently. Even if you exercised right up to your due date, the type of activity and the pressure put on your body may now be rather different. Get to know your body again and don’t forget to get measured for trainers and a sports bra as your shape will probably have changed since the last time you wore them.

Postnatal exercise should begin slowly

Walking is a fantastic way to exercise with a newborn. While it is safe to go for walks before your check-up, it’s advisable not to move too strenuously before seeing your doctor. Afterwards, aim to go out for a brisk walk a few times a week. The motion will likely send your little one off to sleep in the pram, allowing you plenty of time to work up a sweat and enjoy the fresh air.

Swimming is another great way to get back into shape. It’s gentle on the muscles but provides a good cardiovascular workout. However, it’s not so easy to do with a baby in tow so take your partner with you on his day off. Daddy and baby can spend time bonding in the training pool while you have a swim. You can then take the baby while your partner does a few lengths of his own, helping him shed any sympathy pounds he might have gained! Swimming is safe as long as your postnatal bleeding has stopped; before then you run the risk of infection.

Water aerobics postnatal exercise

Many sports centres offer postnatal fitness classes where you take your baby with you and work out with her by holding your little one in a baby carrier, pushing the buggy around or using her weight for resistance training. These classes usually include some aerobic activity as well as developing core strength and are a fun way to spend an hour with your baby. They have the added advantage of allowing you to meet other new mums and go for a coffee and some adult company afterwards.

Other activities like running, team sports or going to the gym are all fine too but you do need to work gradually up to your pre-pregnancy fitness programme. Remember that pregnancy and childbirth put a lot of strain on the body, particularly the lower back and core abdominal muscles, so ease yourself in gently and listen to your body. Don’t forget that it took nine months to put the weight on so don’t be disappointed if you take some time to shift it!





About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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