By Callie Camp, Dee Clarke and Melanie Osmack of Fit 4 Two®
One of the most common questions asked by our prenatal fitness clients is ‘When can I start exercising after I’ve had my baby?’ While the answer will vary from woman to woman, here are the main points to consider when planning an active lifestyle with a brand new babe.
Most women will still look and feel five months pregnant in the first few weeks after giving birth – don’t panic! If you’ve had a uncomplicated vaginal birth, you might be up for a slow stroll around the neighbourhood within the week. If you experienced a Caesarean birth or a more traumatic vaginal birth, it will take you longer to get out and about. Remember to check in with your healthcare provider. The SOGC (Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada) recommends obtaining medical approval at your 6-week post surgery assessment before resuming exercise. In all cases, the SOGC recommends that your lochia (post partum bleeding) should be complete or minimal, which may occur anywhere between 2 weeks to 2
Let Fatigue Be Your Guide
The first month or so as a new mama can be extremely exhausting and overwhelming. It’s called “the 4th trimester” for a reason! Getting proper rest is crucial to exercising safely. Without it, we depress our immune systems, feel clumsy and uncoordinated, and put ourselves at risk of injury or sickness. Aim for 8 hours of accumulated sleep, if you connect all your naps together. Listen to your body.
Loosey Goosey Joints
Who knew that the hormone relaxin was going to hang around for so long postpartum? Odds are that you may still be experiencing a bit of joint laxity several weeks or even months after baby’s arrival. Avoid excessive stretching and strenuous cardio to prevent unnecessary injury.
Check in with your Core
Some women will have no problems reconnecting to their core postpartum whereas others may feel like they are beginning from square one. Just like each pregnancy is unique, so is each postpartum recovery. Focus on rehabilitating from the inside out. Rehabilitation of the
pelvic floor and abdominal muscles is important for re-developing the strong core stability needed for parenting a new baby. It also reduces incontinence, prevents lower back ache and improves self-esteem. Avoid high impact exercise to give the pelvic floor a chance to recover.
Regardless of whether you have a vaginal or Caesarean birth, most women have some degree of diastasis recti (aka abdominal separation). It is not painful, so you may not know you even have it. It’s important to have your healthcare provider assess you in order to determine which core exercises are most beneficial and which ones could make your condition worse.
A certified pre and postnatal fitness specialist can then recommend appropriate exercises to help heal a diastasis.
Getting Your Ducks in a Row
Even the most serious athletes can be caught up in the newborn triathlon of ‘Eat, Sleep & Poop’, making establishing a regular fitness routine quite a challenge. Having your diaper bag packed, water bottle and yoga mat placed by the door the night before your workout can make your mornings go much smoother.
You’re in Good Company
Finding childcare in order to exercise can be a huge obstacle on your path to fitness. Attending a postnatal baby-friendly fitness class with other new moms allows you to get a workout while attending to baby’s needs. It also gives you a reason to get out of the house and a way to connect with other like-minded moms. Be patient with yourself and your baby. It took 9 months to grow your baby, getting back into shape won’t happen over night.
Fit 4 Two® has been connecting moms and moms-to-be through health and fitness since 2003. Contact us at www.fit4two.ca for a free trial class pass.*
*New participants only please.