Returning to postnatal exercise is all about gradual build up. Everyone wants to pick up where they left off during pregnancy ASAP but (annoyingly for many of us ) you need to play the long game. If you do too much too soon, you can end up with more issues in the long term.
There is no magic wand for postnatal recovery. You can’t ‘speed it up’ by pushing your body (although I would say you can potentially slow it down with poor nutrition or doing too much too soon).
One of the key things to understand is that it is different for everyone when it comes to your return to postnatal exercise. So many factors are at play – your birth, your previous fitness levels, the amount of support you have postnatally (don’t feel bad about the influencer who has time to do an hour of exercise per day with their team of nannies when you can barely brush your teeth) to name but a few.
Some tips that I would recommend when it comes to returning to exercise are:
You can’t underestimate the importance of making sure that everything is functioning properly and building the core strength to support you in a safe and sustained way. Start with getting your breathing patterns right, ensure your core is engaging effectively and then build further by adding strength work. Single leg work is really important when you are preparing for high impact activity like running (download my Running Ready checklist here)
I’m going to use running as an example here and hopefully you can apply it to you (but email me for advice if you need it). It is often tempting to start with what would have been an easy run for you pre-baby but you need to build up even to that – not because of your cardio fitness but because you need to start building the load for your pelvic floor gradually. Going from doing kegels and even intense strength work is different to the repetitive pounding of running. The Couch to 5k app is the perfect place to start. Loading your pelvic floor in a way that gives your body time to adjust is exactly what you need.
If you experience any symptoms such as leaking, heaviness or pain in your pelvic floor this is a strong sign to stop and take it back a step. Also modify your exercise based on how much sleep, good nutrition and rest you are able to get. Don’t push yourself too hard, tune in to what feels good not to what you think you need. Take it at your own pace and find a team of people to support you – whether that is paid professionals or your mum/best friend/neighbour coming to give you an hour of sleep.
If you have a new baby you might be interested in my postnatal Pilates classes in St Albans or you can join The Pelvic Floor Project online membership where I have a whole module of pre-recorded postnatal exercises 🙂
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