I love working with women that want to get back to feeling great again after giving birth to a child as there are many benefits to postnatal exercise. However, there is no doubt that pregnancy can take a physical toll on your body.
In this article we highlight a few considerations you should keep in mind before you rush to the gym or get back to running the roads. We also provide a brief exercise plan that can be completed at home after pregnancy.
Safe Return to Exercise after Pregnancy
Seek medical support and guidance. Most doctors will advise women to recover for 4 to 8 weeks before resuming exercise. You’ll want to have the approval of your medical provider before starting a strength and conditioning programme.
Set realistic goals. This period of time is likely the busiest you’ve been in your entire life. Add sleep deprivation to the mix and suddenly the idea to train 4 to 6 times per week goes out the window. We recommend training two or three times each week for 45 to 60 minutes during each session.
Avoid fad diets or eating habits that you don’t think you could sustain for longer than two months. If weight loss is one of your goals keep in mind that a good and sustainable amount of weight loss each week is 0.5 to 1% of your total body weight. For an 80kg person this is 0.4 to 0.8kg per week.
Understand your limitations. Issues with pelvic floor function is common postnatal. High intensity interval training or high impact activities like sprinting and jumping should be avoided at the beginning of your training programme. In our experience it can be depend upon the person but you might also want to avoid exercises that require you lean on your chest (i.e. chest supported rows).
Build core strength and stability and gradually increase exercise intensity. While you might become fixated on what you can’t do the reality is that there are lots of opportunities for you to increase your health and well-being. We have also found that while you may not love the idea of training you will enjoy a little time to yourself each week where you can put yourself first.
Postnatal Core Strength
We recommend starting with isometric exercises to develop a strong core and pelvic foundation. Isometric exercises involve no movement [sounds easy, right] and they can be used as a starting point before progressing to other exercises that might seem harder.
During the initial phase of training you should avoid excessive flexion based exercises. This includes sit-ups and all their variations
Below are three of our favourite core exercises that can be done in the comfort of your own home:
Fire hydrant hold
Bodyweight bridge hold
Perform 2 to 3 sets of 20 to 40 second holds [each side] for core based exercises
We hope you found this insight into postnatal strength and conditioning training useful. If you’d like to work with us in-person to eliminate any pain that is limiting your day to day activity or want to take make faster progress with your health and fitness goals – contact us today to start training with an experienced professional.