Pregnancy and Postnatal Fitness

person s tummy and hand

The main goal during pregnancy is to maintain current levels of strength and fitness. However, a goal that is equally as important is to keep you pain-free and active for as long as possible, throughout the pregnancy and into the recovery stages postnatally.  

The ideal scenario would be that you are already training and building up muscle before you fall pregnant, but whatever stage of pregnancy or postnatal recovery you are at, exercise will be beneficial for you.

Exercise During Pregnancy

Walking is a good place to start if you have not been exercising prior to getting pregnant. Start with 10-minute walks every day and slowly increase the time spent walking as you feel more comfortable.

If you have been training prior to getting pregnant you can continue your usual routine for as long as you feel comfortable. You may need to make some adaptations once bump starts getting bigger and your centre of gravity changes.

Postnatal Exercise

The recommended guidelines for returning to exercise postnatally is six weeks after vaginal birth and twelve weeks for a Cesaerean delivery. However, I have had clients who are ready to return before these time frames. Also for some these official guidelines are too early for them to even think about returning to exercise.

I would always recommend that you wait until bleeding has stopped before you restart any physical activity.

The most important thing to consider when returning to exercise is to listen to your body and make sure you are ready. There is absolutely no rush to return to fitness after having a baby and you should not feel any pressure to do so. Being pregnant and having a baby is an intense period of your life, don’t rush it away worrying or feeling pressured to restart exercise too soon.

Please also consider that the hormone relaxin can stay in your body for up to six months postnatally so be careful about over stretching and pushing joints too far. In particular some yoga positions might be too intense and can cause injury.

Being aware of your posture postnatally can make a big difference to your pain levels, especially in your lower back. Check out my post below for more information on pelvic alignment.

Coming back into exercise after having a baby can be frustrating, especially for those who were mega fit and exercised regularly prior to and during their pregnancy. Being pregnant puts a big strain on your body and its important to heal and take the time to recover before pushing your body too fast. It will take time to build back up to pregnancy levels and that’s ok!

The focus of your training should be on building full-body strength, not just the areas that you feel are your “trouble spots”. This might also be a good time to re-assess who you are following on social media and mute or unfollow any accounts. In particular, any accounts that make you feel bad about your body or are promoting “get your body back after baby”, you haven’t lost your body, it hasn’t gone anywhere so you don’t need to find it. Your body has done an amazing thing and should be celebrated not punished for changing.

How to stay motivated to exercise with a baby

If you feel ready to start exercising this is a gentle postnatal exercise routine for you to try. Remember to take your time and rest when you need too. Its not a competition!

You might also be interested in my weekly Fit Mums Online session, where you can workout with baby from the comfort of your own home. All the routines will be led by me and will be real-time and suitable for pregnant or postnatal stages.

If you are unsure of where to start exercising when pregnant or just want a helping hand in the recovery and rebuilding strength after baby please get in touch.

Published by Aimee Pearce

Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist in Functional Fitness

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