If you’re a mum to a newborn, exercise is probably the last thing on your mind. Even getting three hours of sleep in a row feels like an achievement in those early days – so it’s no wonder you don’t have the motivation to even think about putting your running shoes on or hitting the gym.
But once the dust has settled a little and your baby is in a more predictable routine, having a regular exercise routine can actually be a great way of boosting your energy levels during those grueling early months of parenting. So, here’s our roadmap of six exercise tips to help you get your groove back after having a baby:
- Don’t rush it: While you may be keen to get back into your pre-baby shape as soon as possible, it’s important to let your body recover from the birth. If you’ve had a c-section birth, you’ll need to wait at least 6 weeks before you start vigorous exercise again. When you are ready to start again, make sure you ease back into it, for example with some gentle walking and swimming before you build up to more intensive cardio work.
- Be realistic. It’s hard to describe how taxing it is on your body looking after a tiny human all day and night – not to mention the nine months of pregnancy you’ve just gone through, plus the birth itself! With this in mind, lower your expectations when it comes to your exercise achievements post-baby. If you used to half marathons easily or swim hundreds of lengths without huge effort, this may not be the case now – and that’s fine. Realise that your energy tank is lower than it was, and odds are you don’t have the same amount of free time as before to fit in exercise.
- Invest in a good sports bra: If you’re breastfeeding, invest in a really good quality sports bra to give you the extra support you need (such as our Basic Sports Bra Top). Some women even wear two sports bras to get even more support, or they breastfeed or express before they exercise rather than the other way around.
- Find ways to exercise with your baby. These days there are lots of options for you to take your little one with you while you work out. Try a mom and baby yoga class, or join a gym where there’s a crèche facility available. If you’re a runner, you could also invest in a running pram so you can run with your baby. Alternatively, even a brisk walk around your neighbourhood with your baby strapped to you or in the pram is a great way to get back into exercising.
- Hydrate. This is important whether you’re a new mum or not, but if you’re breastfeeding, it’s especially important to make sure you drink enough water before, during and after you exercise. This will help prevent dehydration, as well as ensure that you keep your milk supply up.
- Focus on exercises that help your specific post-baby body. Pregnancy and birth can often result in weakened pelvic floor muscles, so be sure to incorporate kegel exercises into your new fitness routine. Many women also experience diastasis recti, which is where the abdominal muscles remain separated after the birth. Focusing on abdominal exercises will help to reverse this, but be careful not to overdo it – and definitely don’t start those tummy crunches before your six-week checkup.
Having a baby is a true game changer, and it can be difficult to adjust to your new life in those early months. When you feel ready though, a regular exercise routine can help you feel energised and help boost your mood too, which all helps you cope with looking after your baby – as well as helping you get your shape and fitness back.