Do's and Don'ts of Post Natal Exercise

DO: Wait to get the all-clear from your GP at your postnatal check to re-start your exercise routine – approx. 6-8 weeks after the birth (10 wks after a C- section.)

DON’T: Think that because baby is no longer a passenger you can jump straight back to your previous exercise regime. Respect your body, give it time to heal and recover from the amazing nine month journey.

DO: Remember it takes 12 months not 12 weeks to get back into shape. Every woman’s recovery is different and some may not be ready to exercise until six to eight months after birth. It’s never too late to get back in shape!

DON’T: Despair over celebrity weight loss stories! It took nine months to make your baby so give yourself time. When you give birth you can lose up to 7.7kg in 24 hrs (baby, placenta, amniotic fluid, blood and other fluids) Give yourself a break and try not to put too much pressure on yourself to lose the rest too quickly.

DO: Assess your energy levels daily. After ten weeks of motherhood your focus should be on having an enjoyable workout and one that puts you back in tune with your body.

DON’T: Overdo it. If your baby has been up all night and you’ve had no sleep, put your exercise session on hold for that day and have a nap or choose a lighter activity instead. You’re more vulnerable to injury when you’re tired.

DO: Get your feet properly measured. It’s not uncommon to increase your shoe size during pregnancy, so it could be time to splash out and treat yourself to some new trainers!

DON’T: Make do with your old trainers if they don’t provide sufficient support. With the effects of relaxin still present, ankle stability is a must.

DO: Wear a good sports bra. Your breasts will need support during activities and an appropriately fitted bra can help reduce the risks of stretch marks and discomfort. Some arm movements may promote milk flow so pop in some breast pads and remember to feed or express before exercise.

DON’T: Wear a badly fitted bra. One that is too tight may cause mastitis, whilst one that does not offer enough support may contribute towards bad upper body posture, even back pain. Get kitted out properly, tighten those straps and defy gravity.

DO: Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise, especially if you’re breastfeeding.

DON’T: Restrict liquid intake because of the fear of leakage. If you have been experiencing any wetness it is a warning that you must do more pelvic floor exercises.

DO: Exercise your pelvic floor regularly. These muscles have two different roles so must be exercised in two ways. For the supportive role and to keep your insides on the inside, draw up the muscles inside you, as if stopping yourself having a wee, and hold for a few seconds before lowering slowly. Gradually increase the length of hold.
NB: Do not practice this exercise when you’re actually having a wee!
For the quick response needed when you cough, sneeze of lift something heavy, pull up quickly and strongly inside and release immediately without pushing down. Repeat several times in one block.

DON’T: Run & jump for at least six months! Your ligaments are still softened and stretched from relaxin. This means that the scaffolding supporting your ankles, knees, hips, pelvis and spine could buckle and bow under impact. Your pelvic floor has also been weakened by the weight of your baby and when you run or jump increased pressure is exerted on these muscles which may cause stress incontinence.

DO: Sweat! To burn off your baby fat you need to get breathless, hot and sweaty. Use a scale of 1-10 to monitor your intensity; 1 is relaxed breathing and at 10 you’re unable to talk. You should aim for 7 to 8 and try to stay in that zone for 20-30 minutes, three or more times a week.

DON’T: Opt for exercise classes with fast dynamic moves. Your joints are still vulnerable as the ligaments cannot provide their usual support and quick moves may increase the risk of injury.

DO: Focus on good technique and alignment – go for quality rather than quantity. Slower is harder!

DON’T: Do sit-ups and crunches. Theses exercises are inappropriate and will NOT flatten your tummy. They are more likely to cause low back ache and may make your tummy stick out more. They will also increase the pressure on your weakened pelvic floor!

DO: Exercise your tummy muscles in an upright, functional position and be sure to gently pull in your tummy prior to bending or lifting

DON’T: Lift heavy weights or do strength training as this will increase the pressure on the abdominals and pelvic floor. Holding your breath and gritting your teeth is a good indication that the exercise is too difficult and you should stop immediately.

DO: Lift light to moderate weights ensuring your tummy muscles are lightly drawn in prior to the first repetition. Chose exercises to improve your posture and strengthen muscles required for everyday baby care.

DON’T: Push your stretches further to increase flexibility. The lingering effects of relaxin will allow you to stretch further and this may reduce joint stability for the future. Hold static stretches in a comfortably tense position for up to 30 secs.

DO: Stretch muscles which have shortened and tightened during pregnancy. Front of hip, chest and calf muscles in particular, need to be lengthened to help correct postural changes and reduce muscular tension

DO: Enjoy this new chapter in your life. There will be ups and downs but motherhood is the most exciting and rewarding roller coaster ride. Use your workouts to improve your energy levels and enhance your daily routine

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in 4 Weeks

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