Working out after having your baby can seem kind of scary. Your body has been through some pretty big changes while nurturing and bringing your gorgeous new baby into the world. It is totally okay to feel nervous about getting back into working out. However, research proves that the right exercises can positively benefit your body’s healing process and will also help boost your energy levels, your mood and your fitness. CARiFiT, the post-natal babywearing fitness experts have put together a clever checklist of things to help you ease your way safely back into your workouts.
Postapartum Exercise Do’s
- Start gentle exercise and activity as soon as you ready. It will help boost your energy levels, improve your sleep and your mood.
- Start your kegel exercises as soon as you can as this will help with bladder control if that has been affected during pregnancy or childbirth.
- Speak to your OB/GYN before you start more high-impact exercise.
- Wait for longer if you have had a c-section, and check with your midwife or OB/GYN before you get started.
- Stay active as it will help both your healing and your mood.
- Listen to your body and pace yourself.
- Focus on your mental wellbeing by also taking time to rest, meet friends and share your experiences with others.
- Try and schedule your workouts after feeding times if you are breastfeeding.
- Stay hydrated.
- Get a good sports bra. Your cup size will have changed and if you are nursing, it is a good idea to buy a supportive nursing bra.
Postpartum Exercise Don’ts
- Start exercising until your midwife or OB/GYN says that your body is ready.
- Try and restart exercise until you really feel that your body is ready.
- Rush into high intensity workouts that could be unsafe instead you need to gently ease back into working out to allow your body to adjust to not being pregnant.
- Put pressure on yourself. A balanced approach which focuses on safe workouts and good nutrition whilst enjoying these precious months is so important right now.
- Focus on abdominal curls or crunches, your core will take time to recover. Kegel exercises and deep stomach breathing are preferred initially.
- Bend from the hips when lifting the baby or heavy things, try and bend the knees so that you are not putting undue pressure on the lower back.
At CARiFiT we are committed to making sure that you can get back into working out safely and our focus is always on the right movements for the postpartum body. We want all new moms to be able to feel the physical and emotional benefits of moving but we know that this is a time when you need to listen to your body and exercise appropriately. To get you started, we have rounded up the five moves all new moms should master.
Focus on perfect form first to really engage the intended muscles. If you are doing the moves incorrectly then you run the risk of injury and are unlikely to be working the right muscles. Your time is precious so make it worthwhile! Ready to get strong? *Aim to do 8-10 reps of each following exercise, 3 times. Combine the exercises together for a full-body circuit.
Muscles Worked: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, core
Postnatal Benefits: During pregnancy, your growing bump pulls the body into anterior pelvic tilt, creating short stiff hip flexors and lengthening and weakening your hamstrings and glutes. Basically, your posterior chain (muscles on the back of your body) switches off. As well as getting your glutes and hamstrings firing again, squats aid pelvic mobility, restore core stability and recruit the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles as you inhale to lower and exhale to rise.
2. SHOULDER PRESS
Muscles Worked: Shoulders, core, upper back, triceps
Postnatal Benefits: From lifting and holding your little one to putting the groceries away or storing luggage overhead on a plane or train, a strong upper body is essential for moms. Pressing overhead doesn’t just strengthen your shoulders, it works your core, activating the deep TVA muscles and pelvic floor – jackpot!
Muscles Worked: Quads, glutes, core
Postnatal Benefits: Like squats, lunges build strong legs and glutes, which can help to alleviate common postpartum complaints like back and knee pain. Lunges also ease with tight hip flexors, recruit your core for stability and control and challenge your balance. We’ve focused on reverse lunges here as they place less stress on your knee joints than forward lunges, which is particularly important while the joint-loosening hormone Relaxin is still present in your body.
4. BENT OVER ROW
Muscles Worked: Upper and middle back, shoulders, core, arms
Postnatal Benefits: Feeding, rocking, cuddling, changing—as a new mom, it can feel like you’re forever in a hunched position, which, combined with weakened abdominals, is a fast track to back pain. Bent over rows work your back muscles and help to counteract that rolled forward position your shoulders often default to post-baby.
Muscles Worked: Core
Postnatal Benefits: Even if crunches were postpartum core-friendly (in case you weren’t sure, they’re not) there are far more effective ways to strengthen your core. The deadbug is a strong move that uses the whole core, from the deep TVA muscles to the obliques and pelvic floor, as well as the stabilizing muscles of the lower back. Performed correctly, it’s a tough one, so you might need to start with simpler variations to maximise the benefits.
For more, join CARiFiT4ALL, a free plan to help you understand how to get back into exercise, healthy eating safely and quickly.