Returning to Exercise After Pregnancy

Returning to Exercise After Pregnancy

Tips from a new mum and physio to help get you moving again. 
Hannah McKimm


After giving birth it can be a little unclear when to start exercising again, what exercises are appropriate and how hard we should really push ourselves. In the early days, your body feels completely different, you’re exhausted, you’re still healing, you’re not getting much sleep, you might be breastfeeding and your stomach muscles are learning how to work again. but there can also be this underlying pressure to get moving again. what we are allowed to do before that magical 6 week mark, but it's ok to start gentle movement as soon as you feel ready, as long as you follow some simple guidelines.


  1. Start slow and build gradually - giving birth is big and really takes its toll on the body, plus you're thrown straight into sleepless nights and very little time to recover. So start with way less than you think you can do and build from there. My first walks were around 5-10 minutes and I needed to sit or lie down and ice afterwards. Once these walks felt ok, I increased by 5 mins until I reached 60 minutes comfortably around the 6 week mark. 


  1. Use whatever time you can find - I found time to be the most limiting factor - there really isn't much of it to dedicate to exercise in the first few weeks. Remind yourself that even 5-10 minutes is making a difference to your physical and mental wellbeing. It’s also helping you to create a habit by committing to consistency rather than worrying about the intensity or duration.


  1. See a women's health physio at 6 weeks - your GP or Ob will clear you to start exercise again at 6 weeks, but a women's health physio will actually assess your pelvic floor function and prescribe a specific program for you. This is so important, regardless of how you gave birth. Sometimes we feel ok earlier on after giving birth and symptoms present later on once you’re up and about and moving less cautiously. By having a pelvic floor assessment early on, you can build up your strength to see you through early postpartum recovery and beyond. 


  1. Take the pressure off - your recovery is completely unique to you so don't compare yourself to anyone else or expect to be progressing any faster than you are. We can't rush tissue healing, so respect this process and let it take as long as it needs to. Be the tortoise not the hare, you will get there. 


  1. Don't exercise through pain - any pain! Whether it's your perineum, lower back, upper back, neck - pain should not be exercised through. Take a step back and see someone who can help you - physio, osteo, myo, chiro - whatever works for you. It might be a pretty simple and quick fix and the sooner you get onto aches and pains, the faster they resolve. I know it may seem impossible to make an appointment in the early days, but try to prioritise yourself for an hour, it’s not too much to ask. 
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