Becoming physically active again after giving birth is great for body and mind alike. However, there are a few rules to follow, to avoid injury. Here are four things to keep in mind:
Get the green light from your doctor
The many changes brought about by pregnancy and childbirth can have an impact on your ability to be physically active. That’s why it is important to check with your doctor before starting to exercise again, especially if you had a C-section or if you experienced any complications during your pregnancy or delivery.
Start by re-educating your muscles
Huge demands are made on certain muscles, including abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, during pregnancy and childbirth. Within the first weeks of delivering your baby, it is recommended you start doing strengthening exercises that specifically target these muscle groups.
But don’t go overboard! That doesn’t mean you should embark on a training circuit and do multiple reps right away! Instead, try doing a few targeted exercises adapted to your specific needs. You may wish to consult a physiotherapist specializing in perineal and pelvic re-education who can teach you the appropriate exercises. Pilates and yoga are also activities that help strengthen muscles gently.
Get back into cardio exercises one step at a time
Within the first few weeks of giving birth, try incorporating a few minutes of walking into your daily routine, without pushing your limits.
Before doing any high-impact activities, like jogging or tennis, it’s best to wait at least three months after giving birth. Regardless of your level of fitness before your baby’s arrival, it is recommended you ease back into your activity at a beginner level, and build back up gradually. Otherwise, you run the risk of injuring yourself.
Be patient with yourself and avoid the guilt trip
Being a new mom is hard work! While physical activity is important, it shouldn’t become a source of additional stress. Be patient with yourself: you are entitled to skip a workout if you’re feeling too tired.
If you find it more motivating to exercise in a group setting, look for a fitness centre that offers parent/baby activities you can do together with your little one, e.g., stroller-cardio workouts. Make sure the course you select is adapted to new moms, i.e., that the intensity of the exercise increases gradually.
If you prefer to have someone else care for your baby while you take part in an adults-only physical activity, don’t feel guilty about it! You have every right to focus on yourself for a short period a few times a week!