What NOT to do when returning to exercise after your baby!
New mothers are complicated creatures.
We have not only exerted a mammoth amount of energy in reaching the finishing line of growing a human person, we have also birthed that baby, nurtured them, fed them, clothed them, and stayed awake for countless hours with them; worrying about them, loving them desperately, and breathing in the amazing little person we’ve created. But there is so much more to the new mum than their newborn.
Mums in general worry about so much – about how the world perceives them, about whether or not they are doing a good job, about returning to work and a whole myriad of other problems that seem to keep many of us up at night. And herein lies the problem. Most new mums don’t see themselves as the amazing, nurturing queens of motherhood that they are, instead choosing to put pressure on themselves in other ways to achieve more, to be more, to accomplish the impossible. It is not uncommon for new mums to belittle their own bodies, to curse the new shape and form they have, and to therefore jump back onto the exercise wagon without consideration for their overall health and wellbeing.
When our bodies are still recovering from the incredible job of growing and birthing a human, it is so, so important to remember to take extra care of our post-natal selves. Many Mums feel pressure to have their bodies return to pre-baby weight instantly (we don’t care what you look like at Buggy Bootcamp, it took 9 months to grow that baby, give yourself a break!) or are frustrated with the inability to exercise like they did before.
Some of us are just too exhausted to even know where to begin.
Before jumping in with a new exercise routine, read our top ‘DON’Ts’ to remember when returning to exercise after you’ve had your baby – make sure you protect yourself and your body from unnecessary harm, now and further down the track.
Buggy Bootcamp’s top DONT’s for returning to exercise:
- Don’t ~ Start too soon. While it can be tempting to start at the first opportunity, you should wait for AT LEAST 6 weeks after your baby is born and only then on the advice of your GP or ideally a post-natal Physiotherapist. If you’ve had a C-section, give yourself a good 10-12-week rest period to allow for your scar tissue to heal and body to strengthen naturally.
- Don’t ~ Do crunches/sit ups/twists. These abdominal exercises can exacerbate any abdominal separation (which occurs in approximately 90% of pregnancies) and set your healing progress back a few steps. Roll to the side and use your arms to get out of bed rather than sitting straight up and avoid heavy rotations (like the type of movement necessary with those annoying bad supermarket trolleys).
- Don’t ~ Add high impact exercise until your body (and especially your pelvic floor) is ready. Pushing your body too soon can lead to incontinence issues now or in later life, something that many Mums ignore because it ‘feels’ ok now. Hormones in the body can still make joints weak too, leaving you more prone to injury than pre-pregnancy. Listening to your professional health care providers, your trainer and your body is of paramount importance like never before!
- Don’t ~ Hold your breath or lift weights that are too heavy. These can both put extra, unwanted pressure on your pelvic floor and your joints (see above!). If you want to lift weights for toning, start light and do extra repetitions, and slowly build up the weight as your trainer suggests and as your body allows.
- Don’t ~ Do single leg exercises (running, steps ups, lunges) if suffering from any pelvic girdle pain. If this is the case, make sure you book an appointment with your Physiotherapist to check your pelvic alignment, and to give you the all clear before you start hopping around.
- Don’t ~ Expect exercise to feel the same as it did before your pregnancy, or put too much pressure on yourself to bounce back to pre-baby fitness straight away. Be kind to yourself, you achieved an awful lot to get to where you are today and you deserve a great big pat on the back. With time, persistence and commitment, you’ll be enjoying the endorphin rush you’ve missed and your body will be strong, healthy and happy. All the rest will follow.
Wellness after you’ve become a mum, has so many facets – physical, mental and emotional. Try to remember to look after yourself by eating healthy, whole foods, which encourage healing and muscle repair. Treat yourself to a time-out as often as you can, whether it be for a walk, a bath or a nap. Ask for help if you need it, listen to your body, and remember to praise yourself for the phenomenal feat you have just achieved. You are amazing. x