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Postnatal exercise

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Postnatal exercise  

Yes, as mad as it may sound, it really is a good idea to get going with some exercise as soon as you can after childbirth. It is going to feel like the last thing in the world that you want to do, of course, but we are not talking about anything too arduous here, and the benefits can be huge.

Do I really need it?

Some gentle postnatal exercise will help your body to start to recover from pregnancy and birth.  If you are very keen to regain your figure, then this is the place to start. But the benefits don’t end there. If you are feeling a bit low after the birth, exercise can help  – you don’t need to be running marathons to get a boost from endorphins. Exercise will also improve your general level of health and that will make you better able to cope with the tiredness, stress and sheer physical exertion of looking after a new baby.

Where do I start?

 If you have given birth very recently, then start with some pelvic floor exercises. There is no denying that they are tedious to do, but they are crucial in reducing the risk of urinary incontinence, and so they really are worth it. As an added bonus, if you are feeling sore after the birth, these exercises will improve blood circulation and help you to recover and heal more quickly. Essentially, the trick is to breathe in and at the same time, pull your pelvic floor muscles up tight, as if you are trying not to wee. Hold for a count of four to start with, breathing in and out as you count. Exercise a few times each hour at first and then aim towards being able to hold the muscles tight for 10 seconds or more, three times per day. After a few weeks, if you find you can hold for longer, then that will be all the more beneficial.

postnatal exercise

What else can I do?

Don’t be too ambitious, you are not going to be back in the gym a few days after the birth, and nor should you be. But the sooner you can get up and outside, the better. Gentle walking with the pram is ideal to start off with. If your perineum or pelvic floor is uncomfortable, stake it very easy, with walks of just ten minutes at a time. It is safe to exercise while breastfeeding, and it is also safe after a caesarean, but if you have any worries, or you find that your body is reacting in a way that you didn’t expect, then talk it over with your midwife who will be able to advise you.

What do I do about my stomach?

It’s a shocking sight, isn’t it? Are you desperate to lose that floppy tummy? If so, you can start doing this exercise, very cautiously, almost immediately. Lie on either your side or your back, whichever is most comfortable for you. Breathe in and then as you breathe out, tighten your pelvic floor muscles, just as you did during the pelvic muscle exercises. But this time, once you’ve tightened those muscles, pull your naval inwards and upwards too. Hold this for a count of 10 (breathe normally as you do so). Then relax, rest for a count of five, and repeat. Build up the frequency of the exercise and the length of time that you can hold your naval, and this one really will give you back that washboard stomach that you thought you’d said goodbye to forever.



About Paula Hendry

About Paula Hendry

Paula Hendry is a freelance consultant in the field of social work. She has been a social worker for twenty five years, and specialises in mental health. Paula has two children and writes in her spare time (which is virtually non-existent.)

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