If you’ve just had a baby then you don’t need us to tell you how astonishing the human body is. You’ve grown a life – and now it’s time for you to recover. Bond with your bundle of joy, listen to your body and work with the energy you have – don’t rush anything.
Moving well, functioning normally and getting back to your pre-pregnancy shape is different for every new mother. It took nine months to grow your baby, so getting your stomach back to how it was is also a process.
Women recovering from a cesarean section or vaginal birth are advised to wait six weeks after childbirth, but you can start your kegels (pelvic floor exercises) and walking as soon as you feel up to it. How soon you start doing anything more than that depends on a lot of factors, but two in particular:
Rebuilding your strength and fitness levels should be done progressively. And that means keeping things gentle, even if you’ve been used to intense workouts before the baby arrived. After pregnancy, hormones and breastfeeding affect your joints. High-impact cardio too soon can cause further stress and damage if you’re not fully healed.
Fat gain during pregnancy is common, so the majority of women focus on getting back to their pre-pregnancy weight. But it’s Diastasis Recti many new mothers want to recover from. This is a condition where two vertical abdominal muscles down your front stretch apart and weaken, giving a post-pregnancy pooch.
These separated stomach muscles usually heal on their own over a six-week to three-month period. You can help the process with deep-breathing stomach exercises and strengthening your pelvic floor muscles. Avoid planks, sit-ups, crunches, straight-leg raises and any moves that cause the belly to bulge – these can force your Diastasis Recti to separate even more.
Another exercise to be careful with is swimming. Only take to the water after your postnatal check and after seven days without postnatal bleeding or discharge. New mothers are more prone to infections from the pool while healing – particularly those with cesarean stitches, which take longer to heal.
Functional training means exercising to improve your ability at carrying out day-to-day tasks. Moves which mimic real-life activities, such as picking up the baby or pulling the pram up stairs, can be carried out more comfortably with functional fitness.
Exercises such as squats can help you regain your core strength and stability, get more movement through your pelvis and tighten your abdominals. Hip flexors are another useful move – a half-kneeling lunge (while reaching up to the ceiling with one arm) can be a refreshing side stretch for new mothers with cramped-up diaphragms and ribs.
Thanks to functional exercises mimicking the way our bodies naturally move, you’ll correct your alignment, posture and strength in a way that’s comfortable and progressive. You’ll target all the key areas – the core, diaphragm, abs, spine-supporting muscles, pelvic floor muscles and glutes – all without being too intense and slowing down recovery.
The most important thing you can do for you and your baby is to take care of yourself. Our personal trainers can design a customised training plan that will enhance your wellbeing (physically and mentally), prevent injuries, improve your movement and increase fitness for weight loss and health. Meet them on a free trial at EVO.