Postnatal exercise do's and don'ts

Welcome to the final part of ‘The Safe Return to Exercise Series’,  what you should and shouldn’t be doing when returning to exercise post birth.

What you SHOULD be doing….

  • Waiting until you are at least 6 weeks postnatal before commencing an exercise programme, You may have to wait a little longer if you had a complicated delivery and have taken longer to recover.
  • If you had a c-section then wait at least 12 weeks before commencing an exercise programme. This is major abdominal surgery and you must allow your body the time it needs to heal.
  • LISTEN TO YOUR BODY – If you don’t feel ready to start exercising then wait a little longer and if you’ve already started and something doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t. Stop what you are doing and seek advice.
  • Consider your pregnancy and birth experience and all the things discussed in this series of blogs (see below) such as pelvic floor, diastasis recti, aches and pains all of which need to be addressed first
  • Attend a class which is run by a postnatal exercise specialist as this will ensure you are only doing exercises that are suitable for you at this time.
  • Be patient, start slowly and gradually build up to what you were doing before. It takes time but it is better to get there slowly than to have lots of problems on the way.
  • Pelvic floor and core rehabilitation which is essential post birth and something that I think everywoman should do!
  • Seeking advice if you really don’t know where to start. There can be quite a lot of misleading, contradicting and confusing information out there.

What you should NOT be doing….

  • Accepting aches, pains, incontinence (to name a few) that you many experience during exercise, as just being ‘part of having a baby’. Yes these problems may arise from the pregnancy and birth process but that does not mean you have to live with the after effects for the rest of your life. There is help available you just have to reach out and ask.
  • Jumping straight back into what you were doing pre pregnancy, start slowly and gradually build up.
  • Crunches, planks or any other abdominal exercises that you think will help to flatten your ‘mum tum’
  • Ignoring any signs that something is not right, believe me when I say the problem won’t go away, it may just get worse over time!
  • Focusing on exercising to lose weight and improve body image. During the postnatal period the focus should be on reconnecting with the body, regaining function of our core and pelvic floor and improving posture. You should be doing exercise that helps your body to heal and become strong to help you with the day to day demands of being a mum, which by the way is a physically demanding job!!
  • Being hard on yourself if you can’t do what you were doing before. Take a minute and think about what your body has just been through. Pregnancy and birth is a major event and the impact on our bodies can be quite significant. Nobody actually tells us this though so we can often feel a failure when we suddenly can’t do what we were doing before. What I can be certain of is that with the right advice, support and exercise programming there is absolutely no reason why you can’t come back even fitter and stronger!

If you feel you need some help returning to exercise safely then please contact me for some help and advice. I offer a range of specialist programmes for women just like you.

Other blogs in this series:

Part 1 – Understanding your postnatal body

Part 2 – The postnatal healing process

Part 3 – Why the 6 week check is not enough

Part 4 – Postnatal Posture

Part 5 – Understanding Diastasis Recti

Part 6 – Your Pelvic Floor

Part 7 – Postnatal Exercise Do’s and Don’ts

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