Postpartum exercise: Some advice for new mums
For many new mums, postpartum exercise can seem challenging (if not downright impossible) to incorporate into everyday life. At the end of the day, you’ve got a baby to take care of – and that’s your #1 priority!
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But while fitting in exercise isn’t always easy, any doctor will tell you that it is essential for your overall health and wellbeing. The good news is, there are plenty of postpartum workout options that will allow you to keep up your health and fitness, in a manageable way.
Not sure where to start? Keep scrolling for expert advice on the best and safest way to approach postpartum exercise, plus, some tips from beautyheaven members who’ve already been there...
Postpartum exercise guidelines
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommends new mums seek advice from their doctor before undertaking sports or exercise post-pregnancy. Generally speaking, during the first six to eight weeks after birth, women should follow the same guidelines as they did during pregnancy – but for women who have had a cesarean section or a difficult birth, it may take longer to return to exercise.
The college recommends pelvic-floor exercises for most new mums, to strengthen the pelvic-floor muscles and help prevent bladder-control problems (which can occur as a result of pregnancy). Further down the track, you may wish to incorporate exercise balls such as Svakom Nova Kegels, which are designed to help strengthen the vaginal wall and muscles, while also improving vaginal muscular control post-birth.
The College recommends starting slowly with a gentle postpartum workout (think walking, yoga and pilates), and delaying more vigorous exercise for at least six weeks. Remember, post-baby weight loss takes time!
It is also important to tell your doctor if you experience any of the following during or after postpartum exercises:
- Blood or fluid leaking from the vagina
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or rapid heartbeat
- Headache, feeling faint or dizziness
- Uterine contractions
- Abdominal or vaginal pain
- Any other concerns you may have
Tips and advice from real mums
Whatever your current fitness level, bh mums have plenty of advice when it comes to reintroducing regular exercise back into your life post-birth...
“When I had my first bub and I was always out in the garden, doing gardening. It was well and truly enough to bring everything back into place and keep my fitness level in check. I could also duck out to the garden any time that suited, while the baby had it’s sleeps. The garden looked good too!” - bh member, softness
“Loads of walking with a pram, which gave me some gentle cardio without putting too much strain on my body. It helped me get bubs to sleep, was a good stress relief and gave me a sense of freedom, as you get bouts of cabin fever.” - bh member, Beauty Obsession
“I used my last baby as a weight. I also used to put her on my knees when I was lying on my back on the floor to do tummy toning exercises (I still do – she's almost three and it's a fantastic workout). Other times I would just hold her, put some music on and dance, which gave me a workout and helped to settle my unsettled bub!” - bh member, Seezora
“I found walking with the pram was best; it was easy to fit into my day, cheap, flexible in terms of when and for how long I did it, and quite pleasant.” - bh member, Dance
“I loved my mums & bubs pilates classes, because they focused on regaining core strength and healing abdominal separation, which was especially important as I had SPD during pregnancy. Your baby would simply lie on a blanket beside you, or the teacher would rock them so you could workout. The best thing was that it was a stress-free and supportive environment, with mums stopping to feed or change their baby as needed.” - bh’s Michelle Blancato
“The girls in my mothers group set up a Zumba class. We'd go to someone's house, turn the music up and take turns leading the group!” - bh member, Peta908
“YouTube was my thing, because there was no need to get dressed or leave the house. The added weight resistance of a small child attached to one leg was a bonus. Oh, and extending your plank time because it's SO much fun to climb underneath mummy and lie there no matter how many times you're asked, told and pleaded with to move!” - bh member, Dilettante
“I'm 10 months postpartum and still feel a weakness in my whole pelvic area. You need to be very careful about what you do or you could develop further issues. I do Kangatraining. It's a mix of exercises that are safe postnatal and work at strengthening pelvic floor and core, without causing further abdominal separation or continence issues. There's a lot of dance and it's done while we wear our babies in an appropriate carrier.” - bh member jodib
“With my second I was a member of Fernwood Fitness. The gym has a crèche which is a godsend for mum's. I could do my own workout, join one of many classes, or get Personal Training (with PT’s who have experience with the best exercises for new mums and can tailor a program). You can also can book nutrition appointments to get your diet on track.” - bh member, Beauty Obsession
“When I had my second child, I also had a 20-month old so going to classes wasn't an option. To exercise, I put my newborn in my baby carrier, put my toddler in the pram and went on walks to the park.” - bh’s Michelle Blancato
What advice do you have for women embarking on postpartum exercise?