Starting exercise after child birth might be a scary thought, especially with so much mis-information found online.

Despite this, exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body after giving birth.

Before we get into the benefits of exercise, let’s go through some important considerations:
  1. The uterus can take up to 2 months to contract back to its normal size.
  2. Postpartum women should be encouraged to attend a pelvic health expert, such as a Women’s Health Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist before commencing formal exercise, especially high impact or resistance exercise.
  3. Prone (lying on tummy) exercises may be uncomfortable for those who are lactating.
  4. It might be more comfortable for women to breastfeed before exercise.
  5. Exercises that raise the hips above the chest may be dangerous for those who are still postpartum bleeding and these movements must be avoided under bleeding has finished. Generally speaking, bleeding should have finished before exercise commences.

So why exactly is exercise so important for new Mums?

  1. We need to strengthen those muscles to support the demands of being a Mum! Have you ever tried to hold a new baby for hours on end? You might remember the burning sensation in your arms and neck. When exercising, remember to focus on your postural muscles – specifically through your shoulder blades and into your lower back. This will help to minimise any pain you might be feeling during nursing, picking up the baby from the car seat and while feeding.
  2. A nice sense of normality again! For some, returning to the gym might be that hour of freedom in the day to focus on ones self. It might be a time to go for a walk and catch up with friends while getting some fresh air.
  3. Focus on rehabilitation – specific exercises can help to improve pelvic floor health or Diastasis Recti. These are common musculoskeletal issues that occur during pregnancy and birth. Both can be managed under the guidance of an experienced Women’s Health professional.
  4. Increase energy levels – it might sound counter-intuitive, but exercise can actually help to improve feelings of fatigue! It’s important to find the right balance though, and start back slowly.
  5. Manage weight and general health – regular exercise can help to maintain a healthy body weight and reduce the risk of developing other health conditions that may be associated with a sedentary lifestyle.

So how much exercise should you do?

The World Health Organisation recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. This can be broken down into 20 minutes per day, or even 10 minute bouts twice a day.

It doesn’t matter how you accumulate the minutes, it just matters that you attempt to build to at least 150 minutes per week. Aim to complete a mix of cardiovascular and strength exercise, as long as you have been cleared by your Women’s Health specialist to do so.

Enjoy your daily movement and the benefits associated!

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