Five post-pregnancy exercises for new mums
We talk tips for safe, effective and fun post-pregnancy exercises.
Exercising after giving birth can seem daunting: you’re probably tired, recovering from the birth, and adjusting to life with a new baby.
But it’s important to do some post-pregnancy exercise. Fitness instructor Natasha Dinneen explains that: “exercise helps keep your energy levels up, reduce stress and release the ‘happy hormones’ that enhance your mood”. Not to mention firming up and strengthening your muscles!
However, she is quick to add that any exercise needs to be done with safety as your priority.
“Make sure you’ve spoken to your health care team first before jumping back in there again”, she says.
Exercises for new mums
1. Pelvic floor exercises
Pelvic floor exercises are important as a daily exercise after giving birth, and should be done as soon after the birth as your healthcare provider deems safe.
“Take a deep breath, then exhale and imagine you’re pulling your vaginal muscles up towards your belly button, and hold for a few seconds, then relax”, Dinneen advises. “Do this 20 times, twice a day.”
Walking is a great post-pregnancy exercise as it can be done at any time, alone or with your baby, and it’s a good excuse to get outside.
“Walking helps to stimulate bone density, which helps keep your bones strong, and for women this is especially important at all stages of life” says Dinneen.
“Start walking for 15 minutes twice a day on most days of the week, and gradually increase this as your body can tolerate it. Aim to build this to 45 minutes at a moderate pace. When you feel ready, try adding in some tricep dips and push-ups when passing a park bench, or try some walking lunges along the footpath to break up your walking routine. ”
3. Mum and baby classes
Mum and baby classes at the gym can be a wonderful opportunity to get moving and also meet other mums. Check with your local gym, council or community centre for classes such as yoga, Pilates or dancing.
4. At home workout
At-home exercises mean you can move without needing to leave the house. They can help you to tone and increase your core strength, and can often be done with your baby.
As examples, Dinneen suggests “floor-based exercises – such as lower abdominal and lower back strengthening exercises – or build up to doing squats with your baby in a harness strapped onto you”.
“Exercising with your baby can help you with bonding, too,” she says.
5. Incidental exercise
Incidental exercise is also beneficial for your body and can be as simple as doing housework and gardening at a more energetic pace.
“You can also park a little further away from your destination and walk with the stroller,” says Dinneen.
Things to look out for:
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- The amount of exercise you can do will depend on several factors, including how your pregnancy and delivery went, your post-birth recovery, and how much exercise you did before pregnancy, so make sure you speak to your doctor first.
- If you experience any pain or heavy bleeding after exercising, see your doctor.
- Don’t overdo it. Your body still needs time to rest and recover, so start slowly, don’t set any expectations, and make sure you find time to rest when your baby is sleeping.
- Keep your fluids up before, during and after exercising, particularly if you’re breastfeeding, to ensure your milk supply isn’t affected.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet to make sure that your body has enough energy and nutrients to keep you well, and produce milk for your baby if you are breastfeeding.
With your own health in mind and in consultation with your healthcare provider, postnatal exercise can be achievable, beneficial and enjoyable.