At Matchstick Monkey, we are committed to providing new mums with expert advice on a wide range of topics that can help to support you on your postpartum parenting journey. We have recently been speaking with Rosie Stockley from Mamawell who is on a mission to guide you towards your fitness goals with patience, expertise and passion. We tasked Rosie with coming up with top tips for getting back into exercise postpartum. Here is what she had to say.
Starting back to fitness postpartum
Getting back into fitness can be the absolute last thing on your mind after having a baby, and that’s totally fine! The combination of time spent feeding and the sleepless nights, in addition to the emotional and physical changes in your body postpartum, can leave you with little spare energy. However, exercise can be a great way to carve out time for yourself and keep you strong and energised – for yourself and your baby.
When you have the time and motivation to focus on starting to exercise again, it is vital to go about it the right way. Whether you’re doing yoga, or wanting to hit the gym, it is important to be knowledgeable about the physiological adaptations made in the body throughout pregnancy and childbirth. Even if you feel physically the same as you did before giving birth, it is worth being mindful of what has happened internally and taking care of your pelvis, hips and abdominals, especially during exercise.
How long should you wait before exercising postpartum?
It's advised to wait for a minimum of 6 weeks before exercising post birth, 12 weeks for running. Prior to that you can get out and about walking, do your pelvic floor exercises every day, and work to activate your core with breathwork. It's important not to rush at the start, as the body takes a while to heal. This time frame is just for guidance, as many women don't feel ready or motivated to workout for a while longer.
Part of getting back into exercise is finding the motivation, so find a type of exercise that is appealing to you. Whether it’s yoga or swimming, weights or spinning - find your happy place and sweat it out! In addition, finding like minded women in the same position as you to work out with can motivate and inspire, and keep you accountable until the next session. Having a baby can be all encompassing and sometimes isolating, so the support of a group is so beneficial.
Top Tips for Exercising Postpartum
My top tips for getting back into exercise postpartum include:
1. Don’t rush it. You and your body have been on an amazing journey carrying and birthing your baby, respect it and listen to it! Start small and simple and be kind to yourself. If you notice any symptoms or pain that doesn't feel normal to you, stop exercising or scale back what you're doing. Recovery can be nonlinear postpartum, so stay aware of what is happening in the body.
2. Show yourself regular gratitude – whether that’s a few minutes’ quiet time by yourself, a walk without the baby, a new outfit or a lie-in (we wish!) – try and schedule in some me-time as you’ll have never been as busy as you are with a new baby.
3. Find a type of exercise that you feel motivated to do and love. Whether it’s yoga or spinning, weights or swimming, make this precious time you’ve carved out enjoyable for you. Getting into a regular fitness routine can be so uplifting mentally, and you'll really feel the benefit of getting stronger.
4. Find someone knowledgeable about post-natal fitness who can help you get working safely on your pelvic floor, core muscles and back strength. These parts of your body in particular will have had extra strain on them during pregnancy and childbirth. It’s important to strengthen them postpartum, but in the correct way. A professional can guide you through some effective exercises to get you started.
5. Make time for some cardio, but make it low-impact to protect your pelvic floor. There are plenty of ways to raise your heart-rate and to sweat without running and jumping – and that will give you that rush of endorphins that are so good for the mind as well as the body.
6. Acknowledge any aches and pains in your body. There are so many muscles that are being activated constantly through feeding and carrying the baby, plus pushing the pram. Take note if your back, wrists, pelvis or shoulders are aching, and try to take a break, stretch and seek medical help if the pain persists. Start with a GP appointment, but try and get a referral to a women’s health physio if possible.
7. Find a group of women who are in a similar position to you so that you can support each other, lift each other up when you’re down and celebrate the little (and big!) things. Having a baby can be isolating, friends who are new mums like you will really understand, and this support is key.
How can Mamawell help?
From knowing when and how to start, to tackling motivation and respecting our postnatal bodies, Mamawell takes you through the process of starting working out again after childbirth, covering topics such as:
- Pelvic floor weakness and instability.
- Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation).
- How to get back into cardio training safely.
- Things to be aware of exercising after a ‘complicated’ birth.
- What is contraindicated in postnatal fitness?
- How exercise can help with mental health and positivity.
The Mamawell Method is available for £7.99 a month and incorporates pregnancy and postpartum cardio and strength workouts with lots of additional information on how to work the core, stretch and find energy at this intense time of your life!
We hope this Matchstick Monkey blog has helped you to feel comfort with the idea of starting back to exercise if and when you feel ready following the birth of your baby.