Most postpartum clients will ask: When can I start exercising? What can I do? Is it safe? If you have the same questions, you have clicked on the right article! We get so much information on what to do DURING pregnancy, but it feels like you are on your own once baby is here. Not to worry, I have listed 7 things you should know before you start working out postpartum. Enjoy!
1. Take your time
The first question I get from our post natal clients is WHEN? When can I exercise again? For most of us we should be able to workout again around 6 weeks after delivery but sorry to disappoint you here but there is no definite timeline as every body and every delivery is different. Your return to exercise timing it will depend on 2 factors:
– how you feel (honestly) physically and mentally. Are you ready to exercise again?
– has your doctor given you the green light to exercise again?
Only once these two requirements are met, you should get back to exercise. Do not rush it and give your body the rest time it deserves.
2. Take it slow
So the doctor told you “you are all good to go!” and you feel ready to get in the game again. Should you go back to your favorite Zumba class? Not so fast! Delivering is like running a marathon followed by a car crash (as one of my clients told me), your body has been through a lot of changes lately and the worst you can do is to push it too hard at first. Once you are back to exercise, make sure you take it down a notch and slowly but surely build up from there. Why not taking your usual class to the water? Enjoy a safer, low impact environment while adapting the intensity of your exercise regime. Our classes are all postnatal friendly, get your trial offer here!
I will add: Manage your expectations. Do not expect to start where you left otherwise you are up for disappointment. Your body needs time to fire up again. No one ever runs at the same pace, nor push the exact same weights and that’s ok. Don’t beat yourself up. Muscles have a memory and if you are consistent, you will get back to your pre-baby fitness level soon enough!
3. Listen to your body
Finding the time and strength to get out of the house and take care of your body is already a small victory you should celebrate. Just listen to your body and make sure you are comfortable the whole way through your exercise. Something feels wrong? Inform your instructor, I am sure he or she will have an alternative exercise for you.
Always remember, pregnant, post-partum or just anyone reading this post, fitness professionals are usually are not mind readers (we wish – or maybe not?). Only YOU know how you feel inside. Tell your instructor and he/she will gladly help make the class as enjoyable as possible for you . You need a break? JUST TAKE IT!
4. Focus on your abs and pelvic floor
Vaginal delivery requires a lot of work from your pelvic floor muscles and lower abs, and that section of your body would have changed quite a bit after delivery. Finding the connection between your brain and muscles and feeling your muscles firing up will take a while.
The scariest part for me was that I felt my body was not responding. I felt a huge whole / dead part in my belly area, and it took me weeks and rehab with the lovely Danielle Barratt to regain some control post delivery. There is also diastasis recti (when the abdominal muscles separate). Most of us would have it to a certain degree during pregnancy but for some mamas (including me – yay!) you will still see some separation up to a year after delivery. Diastasis recti is not dangerous nor painful but it makes your belly look bloated for a while which can cause discomfort.
How do we heal our diastasis recti and/ or get that region fire up again?
I am glad you asked…you work these muscles as a priority! First stop would be to consult a women’s physio to understand how wide your gap is and get targetted exercises you can do at home to regain strength. Then Personal Training or small group training with a certified pre / post natal trainer should be your second stop. Our certified trainers (most of them are mamas too!) will love to help you out. You can get in touch here!
5. Mind your wobbly joints
Did you know that relaxin, the hormone responsible of loosening tissue, ligaments and joints for labor stays in the body up to 6 months post-delivery? Yep that means you will need to avoid any activity that has sudden change of pace or direction, just to be on the safe side. Try to avoid dancing, tennis or any fast pace exercises post delivery as you might not feel as stable as you use to for a little while.
On the same note try to avoid high impacts workouts as it can get quite uncomfortable to jump with breasts full of milk (if you are breastfeeding) or you might have a leak (thank you pelvic floor). You will also be putting unnecessary pressure on your bones and joints. To be on the safe side, choose water based activities, with a low impact and slower pace you will be enjoying a great workout without worrying of injuries! Find out more here!
6. Stay well fed and hydrated
That sounds like an obvious one but guess what? Most of our clients forget about their water bottles during exercise! Especially if you are breastfeeding, always bring a bottle of water with you as soon as you leave the house, and do not forget to drink regularly throughout the day as well as before, during and after your workout.
Same goes with the food! Without even mentioning the effect on losing the baby weight, eating the right foods will ensure your body functions efficiently so you can have the energy needed to take care of your new bundle of joy! Give your body the food it deserves: no packaged food, lots of veggies, grains and lean meats would be ideal.
7. Think about your spine
As you get into a brand new lifestyle, you will most likely feel some aches and pain. Guess what there is a way to avoid (most of) it! Be mindful of your position at all times. New mums tend to forget about their bodies position after the birth of their baby. Reaching for something at the end of the counter with baby in your hands? Make sure you do not twist too much. Grabbing something from the floor? Always remember to face the object and bend your knees instead of your back.
As we said earlier, your muscles and bone structure will be slightly weaker after giving birth and there are no emergency greater than making sure you do not injure yourself.
If you need more tips and tricks to start exercising postpartum feel free to contact us!