Postnatal Exercise: Where to start
We caught up with Caroline Bragg, postnatal fitness expert to provide some comfort to anyone looking to get back into exercising but aren’t sure where to start.
Every pregnancy is different and therefore women can have very different experiences before, during, and after childbirth. Although post-natal exercise can provide huge benefits when done correctly, make sure you’ve been signed off by the doctor before starting a new routine.
1) Little and often
Start with short workouts that use your own body weight.
Not only can committing to hour-long workouts be too much too soon, but it can be hard to fit it into your busy schedule. Therefore, I suggest aiming for around 20 mins, three times a week to begin with.
You will likely find that time is an issue now that you’re a mum, but you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) be doing anything too hard-core yet. Definitely, take advantage of whenever you can incorporate some mini-workouts into your regular activities rather than scheduling exercise sessions around your timetable.
2) Don’t Rush
Take time to build up your core and muscle strength before embarking on any high-impact activities. Your body has been through the biggest workout of its life carrying and giving birth to your child, so you need to build your body strength back up slowly and safely.
Start with pelvic floor exercises, as this is one of the fundamental muscle groups involved in building up your core strength. Although some women feel unsure that they are performing their pelvic floor exercises correctly, there are ways to reassure themselves.
When urinating, stop the flow for a few seconds; these are the muscles you want to engage while performing pelvic floor exercises. Later, when doing your kegel workout, remember to squeeze in or pull these muscles up, as pushing down can actually cause more problems. Of course, Elvie guides you through your Kegels and will actually tell you if you’re doing them correctly, giving you one less thing to worry about!
3) Buddy up
If you make plans with friends to do some light exercise (a brisk walk around the park with the buggy for example), you’ll likely find that having made a commitment to someone else will make you far less likely to cancel or skip a workout. Increase your motivation to stick to it by making plans with friends to do some light exercise (a brisk walk around the park with the buggy for example). Not only will this make it more enjoyable and fun, but you’ll find it easier to turn it into a proper routine.
4) Get outside
Vitamin D is really important for keeping us happy and healthy. For example, combine a trip to the park with some exercises like Tricep dips off the bench, or you can even use the trees as markers for power walking sprints.
5) Set Goals
We’re often guilty of setting ourselves slightly unrealistic goals, which make them seem so out of reach that they become impossible! Try to break them down into smaller, bite-sized targets that in turn will contribute towards your BIG goal.
I like to use this Goal setting model:
G - Goal. What is my goal?
R - Reality. Where am I now?
O - Options. What options have I got?
W - What will I do now? When will I do it by?
Breaking it down will give you more excuses to celebrate when you achieve little victories, and will help you see how much progress you’ve actually made.
If you are interested in learning more or participating in any of Caroline’s excellent & Breathe Post Natal retreats, please contact:
or postnatal training
The medical information in this article is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please consult your doctor for guidance about a specific medical condition.