Getting regular exercise is an important part of physical and emotional wellbeing.
Some of the benefits include:
- Helps to control weight and return to pre-pregnancy weight
- Improves tummy muscle tone and strength
- Improves sleep
- Improves mood
- Time for yourself – reduces worries and depression
- Improves fitness
It is safe for post-partum women to be active, but it’s important not to do too much too soon.
If you’ve had a straightforward birth, you may start gentle activity as soon as you feel up to it, e.g. walking, gentle stretches, pelvic ﬂoor and deep stomach exercise, taking the stairs, and being active with your baby.
After the 6-8 week postnatal check and depending on how you feel, moderate intensity activities can gradually resume. After 3 months, in the absence of any issues, you can resume high-impact activities like running and jumping.
If you weren’t active before your pregnancy, start gradually.
If you were active before your pregnancy, it is also important that you build back up gradually.
If you have had a caesarean, as soon as you’re able to get out of bed gentle walking will help you recover from your surgery. It is still safe to undertake daily pelvic floor and gentle core exercises soon after birth as long as you haven’t suffered any complications. Once you no longer have any pain, it is usually safe to start low-impact exercises, such as swimming, pilates, yoga, gentle jogging and low resistance gym work. Wait until you’ve had your 6-8 week postnatal check with your GP before returning to your pre-pregnancy levels of exercise.
Eventually aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity spread throughout the week. You need not do it all at once – every active minute counts!
Activities can include walking, exercise classes, taking the stairs, swimming, gardening, housework or any activity that makes you breathe faster whilst still being able to hold a conversation.
Start pelvic floor exercises as soon as you can and continue daily.
Build back up to muscle strengthening activities twice a week e.g. walking uphill, taking the stairs, carrying shopping bags, and pregnancy yoga.
You can be active while breastfeeding.
Physical activity for women after childbirth
When you do start to exercise, it’s important to pay attention to your body – you should stop if it’s painful, when you are tired or if you feel unwell.
You should see your Obstetrician, Midwife or GP before starting to increase their physical activity if you have any symptoms of new excessive shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitations, dizziness or fainting/near fainting, both during exertion or at rest.
For guided activity videos that you can follow at home visit the This Mum Moves website.