Exercise tips for new mums: Your guide to postnatal exercise
These tips will guide you on your way back to exercise
Welcome to motherhood, where your daily routine, emotional state, hormones and sleep will be completely chaotic. You’ve spent more than nine months carrying and then birthing a baby, so it’s no surprise that becoming a mama has a huge impact on your body.
No two pregnancies and labours are the same, so any kind of post-partum exercise needs to be approached with care and caution. Unlike a traditional training session, it’s not about testing your limits and challenging your body; instead you should be focussing on gentle movement and being kind to your body.
It can be so difficult to know where to start when it comes to your first workout post-bub, so here are a few tips to help guide you on your way back to exercise:
1. Seek professional help
Your body has just gone through some major changes and things will be significantly different, both structurally and hormonally, then they were before your pregnancy; which is why I recommend seeing a health professional to get personalised advice. There are plenty of amazing GPs and physios that specialise in women’s health, so please recruit the expertise of a health professional before moving to the next step. Need help finding someone? A great way to search for local health practitioners is through nib's Find a Provider tool.
2. Take it slow
It takes 40 weeks to reach your full term of pregnancy and (despite what Hollywood would lead you to believe) it can take nearly as long to fully return to your pre-pregnancy self; so be realistic, kind and patient when it comes to your body. Focus on your physical and mental health and don’t get stuck on getting your ‘old body back’. Your body is incredible, so appreciate what it can do instead of what it looks like.
3. Walk it off
In a society where we’re bombarded by the latest and greatest exercise fads, never underestimate the benefits of a simple walk. Not only is it free and easy to do with a new bub, but it’s a fantastic fat burner and the fresh air and sunshine will do wonders for your mood. Invite a friend, partner or family member to join you and turn it into a fun social activity – I promise, it won’t even feel like exercise!
4. Stretch it out
Pregnancy can take its toll on your body, especially your posture. Because of your baby bump, your centre of gravity is shifted which can cause major lower back pain. So, once you’ve given birth, it’s important to strengthen your core and focus on your posture. Stretching is the perfect place to start.
A simple stretch you can do throughout the day is the ‘neck, back, belly check’. Bring your shoulders up to your ears and then pull them back and down (like you are trying to put your shoulder blades in your pocket). Next, tuck your booty under and pull your belly button in towards your spine, hold this for a breath or two and then release.
5. Be social
Many gyms these days offer a ‘mums and bubs class’, which is a great opportunity to chat with other new mums, have fun and break out a sweat in a safe environment. Research has shown that being social is so important for a mum’s mental health; pair this with the endorphins released from exercise and you’ve got an instant mood booster.
Above all else, try to view exercise as an opportunity to appreciate how hard your body has worked for the last nine months and help it recover slowly.
Cassey Maynard is one of Sydney’s most recognised fitness experts and health advocates. Also known as The Energiser, Cass (@cassey.maynard) is passionate about energising people’s lives through health and fitness in a playful, fun and educational way.
For more articles by Cassey, check out The Check Up’s dedicated section.