The birth of a child is a true miracle and usually turns a woman’s world completely upside down. A woman’s body changes, too. And because women put a few kilos on during this time that they then need to lose again, many new mums find themselves wondering when they can start exercising again after pregnancy. pjuractive has taken a closer look at this subject and is here with the answers.
Why shouldn’t I exercise straight after pregnancy?
Women are generally particularly critical when it comes to their bodies. Most women want to get back in shape as quickly as possible after pregnancy, but that’s not a good idea – as you’ll quickly realize for yourself. It’s important – especially straight after the birth – to adjust to the new family member and find your feet in your new day-to-day life together. Use these early days to recover from the birth and relax. It’s absolutely not the right time to be worrying about peak sporting performance or diets! The layers of muscles in the abdomen have been put through a lot and will be overstretched, so they need to recover first.
However, there are specific pelvic floor exercises that you can try, even shortly after giving birth. Midwives generally know which exercises are sensible to do after pregnancy. If you have had a caesarean section rather than a natural birth, you need to be even more careful with exercise after pregnancy. You definitely need to wait until the scar has healed. It’s vital to consult a doctor for advice about this. The first real exercise after pregnancy should then be postnatal exercise. And short walks are absolutely fine, too, of course – even shortly after giving birth.
When can I start exercising after pregnancy?
Only once you have completed a course of postnatal exercises and your midwife or gynecologist has given you the green light you can set about going back to normal exercise after pregnancy. For most women, this will be around eight to twelve weeks after the birth. However, it’s also important to take things slowly at this point. Listen to your body and be careful – especially when doing exercises involving your core. This is an area that is slow to regenerate, and a workout that’s too strenuous can do more harm than good here.
You therefore need to avoid long training sessions for eight to twelve weeks after pregnancy, and avoid heavy weights, too. Cardiovascular training and targeted toning exercises will then be allowed about twelve weeks after the birth. You can also start jogging again at this time. But it’s best to start off alternating between walking and running, though. Here, too, it’s still important to listen to your body and pay particular attention to your pelvic floor. The stomach area can still be very sensitive up to a year postpartum. So, you need to be particularly careful of this area if you’re exercising to try and lose that baby weight again after giving birth.
What exercise should I do after pregnancy?
So now we know when you can start exercising again after pregnancy. But what’s the best kind of exercise to begin with? Short walks and gentle, targeted pelvic floor exercises are best immediately after the birth. Postnatal exercises then come next, and you can start making your walks longer, of course – which will also increase your general fitness. Once you’ve finished your postnatal exercises and had the go-ahead from your midwife, you can start doing sports like speed-walking, swimming, and cycling. The best form of exercise to do is whatever it was you regularly did before you were pregnant. All at a moderate speed, however, and without pushing yourself to your limits. At the beginning, it’s important to choose a form of exercise that’s gentle on your pelvic floor. Jogging is not all that suitable at the beginning, for example. New mothers shouldn’t start jogging again until around twelve weeks postpartum – and then only alternating between walking and running, as we’ve already explained. For advice on running during pregnancy, take a look at this blog post.
In principle, you can start doing virtually any sport again after twelve weeks. The only exceptions are boxing, judo and similar sports that involve hitting – these should be avoided because they can result in concussion.
In addition, sit-ups and other exercises that work the rectus abdominis muscles are also problematic. The stomach muscles separate during pregnancy, and this gap needs to close up again completely first. That can take anything from six weeks to a year and is different from one woman to the next. Your midwife can give you information about this if that’s the case for you.
In addition to the types of exercises we’ve already mentioned, there are also postnatal exercise classes specifically for new mums, of course. One example is Buggy-Fit classes, which use a walk with the kids as a chance to do a workout. There’s also something called Kanga training, which uses the baby as a weight and allows mum and baby to work out together.
Here’s a little summary, outlining when you can start doing which forms of exercise after pregnancy again:
- Immediately after birth and in the first weeks following the birth: Short walks and pelvic floor exercises approved by your midwife.
- 6 to 8 weeks after the birth: Postnatal exercises.
- 8 to 12 weeks after the birth: As soon as you have completed your postnatal exercises and your midwife gives you the go-ahead, you can start speed-walking, swimming, or cycling again.
- From 12 weeks after the birth: All forms of exercise are essentially possible again from this point onward.
And one last, little tip for breastfeeding mothers: It’s best to exercise straight after breastfeeding, but definitely not just before. An intensive workout will cause your body to release adrenalin, which will be passed on to your baby in your milk. And always wear a good sports bra to stop your breasts bouncing around too much.
Getting back into exercise after you’ve had a baby often requires patience. There’s a good reason why there’s a general rule of thumb stating that a woman’s body not only takes nine months to grow a baby but also takes another nine months to get back in shape. But if you listen to your body and take things slowly when you start, you’ll soon be back to full fitness after pregnancy 😊