Safe exercises to include in your post natal workout

pregnant women exercising with weights

By Dahlas Fletcher
Certified Pregnancy and Post Natal Exercise Specialist
Mum of 3

For every exercise there is a correct time and place to do it. However just because you have been given the all clear by your Dr/OB/Midwife to return to exercise post birth, does not necessarily mean ALL kinds of movement are appropriate for you. Best of all, you don’t need burpees, planks, crunches and jumps to stay fit or to challenge your fitness level.

Travel your own recovery road

Pregnancy and birth have a HUGE impact on your core and pelvic floor, and I think every mother can agree that you do not “snap” back to your pre-body when you are 6 weeks postpartum. Your goal when returning to exercise post birth should be to rehab BEFORE you re-train so you have a strong foundation on which to build. Not sure where to start – grab my complimentary Core Training Guide, you can even begin this during pregnancy.
Your recovery might take, 8 weeks, 4 months or 3 years. Every woman’s postpartum recovery journey is different depending on a variety of factors including what exercise you have been doing before and during pregnancy, your birth, your sleep and even your posture !

You are Post Natal Forever

I know it is challenging as you scroll through social media and see mama’s recently post birth who are running marathons, lifting 40 kg above their heads or loving their bikini body challenge burpees ! It’s hard not to feel like there is some sort of “shape” you should be in.
Remember they are not you, and you do not need to be them. If you have EVER given birth, you are post natal forever.
So please don’t give yourself an expected recovery deadline and please PLEEEASE avoid comparing yourself with other “miraculous” returns to pre-baby bodies on social media.

Risk Vs Reward

When doing any movement as a mother the benefits to significantly outweigh the risk. For sure, there is some inherent risk with any kinds exercise, regardless of how ‘perfectly’ it’s programmed. I would also argue, there’s greater risk with not exercising.
However, exercising isn’t just about throwing some sprints in at the end of a workout. Or, working kettlebell swings, burpees, crunches and jump squats into a circuit because they make you sweat !
Your body has gone through significant changes during pregnancy and birth, so if higher intensity movements are to be included in a workout they need to be programmed and planned strategically…..when you are ready !
Importantly, if you are already exhausted and depleted as a busy Mum – you are not going to get any benefits by flogging yourself further through these types of movements – you are most likely going to end up injured. Remember recovery is temporary, but injury can be permanent.

It’s all about the PRESSURE !

The main culprit for causing damaging abdominal separation, pelvic floor injuries, is intra-abdominal pressure (IAP).
This pressure can be increased with movements such as planks, burpees, box jumps and even running !
To key to avoiding IAP it starts with EXHALING on the effort – this means anytime you lift anything or have any form resistance breath out. Try this not only when you exercise but as you lift your baby, pram or grocery bags! Plus, if you see any form of coning or doming in your abdominals during exercise please stop. As this is a sign that you have too much IAP and your core is not functioning effectively.

See a Women’s Health Physio.

So how do you know when your core is functional ? Well, we can’t see the core of an apple can we – the same applies to your own deep core. Please see a Women’s Health Physio (ideally at 12-15 weeks post birth) so you can be properly assessed and learn when it is ideal to progress to more intense forms of exercise. Even a core that looks fabulous on the surface with a 6 pack can have deep core and pelvic floor issues – so assessment is essential.

It’s ok to Modify

For every movement there is a modification and you will still get a myriad of benefits in a workout. When I say
benefits…let’s also switch up the mindset that exercising is a way to change our bodies and instead be motivated to move
as a way to connect with our bodies. Trust me when you do this you are going to create so much more consistency in
your workout routine, and consistency means results !

Never say Never !

Will you ever be able to do burpees, planks, crunches, sit ups… ABSOLUTELY ! Goals are ALWAYS achievable. It just takes time and being empowered with the knowledge to trust your body. Just take a look at my client Cath, mum of 3 kids who now runs marathons. Also Sarah Mum of 5, yep 5 beautiful babies including twins that she birthed all naturally. Sarah recently went for her first run along the beach and I now include wall balls and burpees in her sessions. For both these ladies we rehabilitated then retrained but best of all – they learned to trust their instincts. If a movement did not feel right they spoke up and didn’t do it and together we found an appropriate modifications !

Got any questions about your training?

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