When it comes to pregnancy and staying fit, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says, “In the absence of either medical or obstetric complications, 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise a day on most, if not all days of the week, is recommended for pregnant women.”
No matter how active you stay during pregnancy however, your body undeniably goes through changes: stretch marks, hormonal craziness, added weight, lower energy and the list goes on. Instead of dreading these changes, be super proud of the amazing ability our bodies have to grow, nurture and bring a new life into this world. What a mind-blowing privilege we have to do this!
It’s important to remember that not everyone’s body is the same, and what’s possible for some may not be the same reality for others—and that is completely fine. What we should be aiming for is being the best version of ourselves at whatever stage of life’s journey we’re at. This involves accepting where we are, having a super positive self-perspective of our intrinsic value as a unique individual and then gradually working on getting fit and strong post-pregnancy. Remember, it took nine months to bring your bubba into the world, so give yourself nine months or more to get back to your pre-pregnancy body.
So where should you start when getting back on the fitness bandwagon post-pregnancy? Mothers should be listening to their bodies and their doctors about returning to training. Everyone’s pregnancy and birth experience is different, and so will be your approach to exercise afterwards, depending on how active you were pre- and during pregnancy, and how the birth went.
Gentle walking is encouraged as early as two weeks post-birth. Resistance training can begin six weeks post-partum for a natural birth, and 12 weeks for C-sections. Gentle abdominal and pelvic floor exercises can begin 2–6 weeks post-partum. If you feel any pain in this time period however, stop and wait a week or so longer before trying again.
Considerations for post-natal exercise:
- Avoid jolting and bouncing exercises.
- Include pelvic floor-strengthening exercises.
- Be aware of continence problems.
- Avoid exercises that involve straining.
- Be aware of weak lumbar stabilisation.
- Have your feeding regime established before resuming training.
The take-home message post-pregnancy is to be kind and patient with your progress, and resume exercise slowly. Enjoy this precious time with your bubba and don’t rush the pre-baby body.
Try these exercises post-pregnancy after your doctor confirms you can resume exercise.