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returning to exercise after having a baby

RETURNING TO EXERCISE AFTER HAVING A BABY

Returning to exercise after having a baby

TOP TIPS FOR RETURNING TO YOUR MOVEMENT PRACTICE AFTER GIVING BIRTH

Rediscovering your movement practice or exercise routine after having a baby is different for everyone. Some mamas might be raring to go while others might be a little more tentative and in no rush to get back. There is no right or wrong way, just take it slow and listen to your body. 

Remember every body, every pregnancy, every birth and every baby is different, and this all plays a part in your journey back to your body.

Here are our top 10 tips for returning to your movement practice:

  1. REST, RECOVER & CONNECT.
    The first few months with a newborn are precious moments. Put any worries about your body or plans to exercise on hold and savour this magical time. Let your body rest: as it rests it can and will recover. Spend time bonding with your baby and working out your new routine and new role.  Feel feel to stretch, move and wiggle your body, to start full 360* breathing and connecting to your pelvic floor. Feeding is a great time to do your kegels.
  1. BE PREPARED FOR YOUR 6 WEEK CHECK.
    As well as your baby’s 6 week checkup, you too are supposed to have a postnatal checkup but this isn’t always readily offered up by your GP. Make sure you ask to be assessed too. Ask your GP or Health Care Provider to check your tummy for any diastasis, talk about any leaking or incontinence – be honest, your GP/HCP has heard it all before. If you feel any dragging in your vagina, talk about it and request a referral to a women’s health physio. If you’re struggling feeding let them know too. Is your bleeding normal? Write a list of questions in case you’re worried about forgetting something.
  1. RETURN TO EXERCISE SLOWLY.
    Think about what the body has been through; growing another human (AND a whole other organ – the placenta!) for 40 weeks is just incredible. So many shifts and changes to make space for a little human. So start slowly, building good foundations. I like to think of the journey as a smile. As your pregnancy progresses you gradually decrease the intensity as you get closer to birth and then you gradually build it back up the other side.
  1. TAKE TIME FOR YOUR PELVIC FLOOR.
    You can start doing your kegel exercises from about 2 weeks postpartum. Nothing too strenuous but gently starting to reconnect the brain with the pelvic floor, strengthening both the neural pathways and muscles fibres themselves. I promise you will be so thankful that you did! We deep dive into healing your pelvic floor here. You can start lying down or even seated and incorporating them into feeding time is a great reminder, or try the NHS app Squeezy to help you remember.
  1. WORK ON YOUR DEEP ABS.
    Use your breath to connect to your deep abs. You are looking to find that wrapping sensation, like a corset. This short video explains how to do this core-connection breath. Then gradually load your core through loading, resistance and movement.
  1. STRENGTHEN YOUR GLUTES.
    The partner in crime to your deep core. The core and glutes work together to stabilise your torso. Start by incorporating bridges, clams and build up to squats and lunges.
  1. POSTURE IS KEY.
    Stand in front of the mirror and find your alignment. We want your shoulders, hips, knees and ankles to line up. With your hands to your hips, send your tailbone down then stick it out, rolling through this a few times to then find your neutral position. FInally, stand tall, roll your shoulders down your back, soften your floating ribs in your torso and anchor towards your hips bones. 
  1. BE MINDFUL OF OVER-STRETCHING.
    You should definitely release any tight areas and stretch out, just be mindful of going to the end ranges of your flexibility and holding stretches for too long. Pregnancy hormones such as relaxin are still in your body and this can cause laxity and sensitivity.
  1. RETURNING TO RUNNING?
    If you want to get back to running you should again take it slow. Support a gentle running program such as Couch to 5K with a strengthening program, favouring squats and deadlifts, single leg lunges, single leg bridges, gentle rebounds and rotational movements. If you would like a tailored programme to help you get back to running get in touch.
  1. THINK HOLISTICALLY.
    Stay hydrated, eat lots of protein-rich, nutritionally-dense food. Get as much rest as possible, remember rest = healing.

Finally, I always recommend you see a women’s health physio to get a Mummy MOT so you can know exactly what’s going on with you. If there is ever a good time to invest in your health, now is the time. Your future self will thank you!

To find out more follow @planetmamauk for pregnancy movement tips and workouts.