The arrival of a baby is a time filled with excitement. But after the ups and downs of growing a human inside of you for nine months and delivering them into the world, it’s understandable that you might be desperately craving some normalcy.
For many new mums, this means dusting off the running shoes and returning to a pre-pregnancy workout.
So when is it safe to get back in the gym and get your sweat on?
As with most things about motherhood, there is no one-size fits all answer.
The general recommendation given by doctors is that new mums can start gentle kegel exercises within 24 to 48 hours of giving birth. This will help repair and restore strength in the pelvic floor muscles. After all, they just performed the most demanding workout of their life!
A killer weight session and that HIIT class you love will have to wait longer, unfortunately. Generally speaking, women can return to exercise postpartum once they have been cleared by their healthcare provider. This typically happens around 6-8 weeks after giving birth, but it can vary depending on the individual and their delivery experience. It’s important to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of exercise. Women should listen to their bodies and be aware of any pain or discomfort.
Remember to be patient and give your body time to heal and recover before jumping back into your pre-pregnancy exercise routine. Overexerting yourself before your body has had a chance to recover puts you at risk of long-term bladder or bowel problems.
If you are feeling ready and have had the all-clear from a trusted health professional, then there are plenty of reasons to make your exercise routine a priority.
Pregnancy is a hormone roller coaster. The kind with tight turns, steep slopes and stomach-turning loops. This is often accompanied by sleep deprivation, pain, constant discomfort, and looking and feeling unrecognisable from your usual self.
And once your bundle of joy arrives, you are experiencing all of this with the added pressure of a tiny and very vulnerable human relying on you for life.
Not daunting at all!
Did you know that postpartum depression is quite common? According to the World Health Organisation, around 13% of women worldwide are diagnosed with postpartum depression. And it’s not just clinical diagnoses – more than 50% of postpartum women report experiencing at least some elevated depressive symptoms within the first year following childbirth.
However, there is some good news! Studies have shown that exercise can be helpful for reducing the risk and symptoms of postpartum depression. For example, one study found that women who exercised at a moderate intensity during pregnancy were less likely to develop postpartum depression than those who didn’t exercise. And another study found that women who participated in a supervised exercise program after giving birth had lower rates of depression and anxiety compared to those who received usual care.
It’s important to remember that it’s not about “bouncing back” or trying to fit into pre-pregnancy clothes right away. It’s about giving your body the care and attention it needs to recover from pregnancy and childbirth and to build up the strength and resilience you need for the demands of motherhood. Whether you’re a new mom or you’ve been at it for a while, taking time for yourself to exercise can have a profound impact on your physical and mental well-being. So, next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or depleted, try taking a brisk walk, doing a gentle yoga practice or scheduling yourself a weekly personal training session, and see how it makes you feel. Your body (and your baby) will thank you for it!