How to work out safely in pregnancy and beyond

Has your exercise routine come to a halt because you’re pregnant or nursing a newborn? Here are some activities to help you get back on track.

It can be worrying figuring out what kind of exercise you can do when pregnant or shortly after giving birth.  So we’ve done the research for you and found out what physical activities you can safely do, and what you should put off until further down the motherhood track. Choose wisely and you could find yourself sleeping better, feeling stronger and in a good frame of mind. 

Remember that you should always discuss any exercise plans with your doctor first.

What can exercise do for you?

Staying fit can help keep your weight in the healthy zone and that’s still the case while you’re pregnant or caring for a newborn, with current guidelines recommending 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous physical activity per week. 

Not sure how to gauge how hard or fast that is? Use the talk test as a guide – if you can’t keep up a conversation while you’re exercising then you’re working too hard and should take it down a notch or two. 

Not all women feel up to exercising in the last trimester or soon after giving birth. But when you’re ready to start moving, gentle exercise like walking is a good option. It’s recommended that most mums take it easy for about six weeks after giving birth to give your body time to return to its pre-birth state, especially if your baby was born by caesarean section, or you experienced any complications. And to give your pelvic floor time to recover from the pregnancy and birth, pelvic physios say it’s best to wait up to five months before resuming any high-impact exercises like running. 
mums exercising with their kids

More good reasons to get moving

Stay strong and fit: According to Sports Medicine Australia exercising after giving birth can help you heal faster and kick-start muscle strengthening and toning. Whether you’re a new mother or well on your way to becoming one, doing pelvic floor exercises, and moving your body can help keep your weight in check, increase your strength and fitness, and help take care of your bone density and cholesterol levels. 

Be a happy mummy: With 1 in 7 mothers experiencing  postnatal depression, it pays to find ways that will help boost your mood. Studies show that most forms of exercise, even a gentle stroll, can help reduce anxiety and depression as well as help boost your mood.  And it’s not just new mothers that are at risk of anxiety and depression either, pregnant women can also experience depression and anxiety too – the good news is that research has found that being active can help. And if you exercise in a group or with a friend the social interaction can add to the psychological benefits.
Sleep like a baby: Babies and sleep aren’t very compatible. Even your unborn baby can keep you awake at night – getting into a comfortable sleeping position when you’re heavily pregnant can be tricky. Yoga can help pregnant women feel more relaxed, as well as help alleviate muscle aches, lower back pain, and reduce stress and anxiety – all of which can lead to a better night’s sleep. And if you’ve just had a baby it may help you to nod off more easily after those night-time feeds. 
Words of wisdom: Now you know it’s good to keep moving, it’s also important to remember to listen to your body and to stop when it doesn’t feel right or you feel any pain. Although it can be normal to feel some slight discomfort, especially for new mothers exercising after giving birth, you shouldn’t keep going if the discomfort increases or is more than you would expect for the level of activity. This is the time to stop, rest and chat to your doctor about your concerns. 
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