Returning to Fitness after Pregnancy

An overview & explanation on how to restart your recovery journey after having given birth.

Returning to fitness after having a baby, can feel sometimes challenging. Maybe you are not sure what's good and what's not, or the exercises you did before don't feel right now after giving birth.
Maybe also you feel like injuries you acquired during labour are interfering with how your body feels.
And I am here to tell you that's all normal.

Body Changes

Going through labour and birth changes a lot in your body. Your center of gravity kept changing while your belly grew, your belly muscles got extremely stretched and other muscles has to compensate to keep you upright.
One thing to keep in mind is, that after you had your baby, your muscles don't go automatically back to pre pregnancy activity.
It requires a step by step plan to activate your muscles again in a more optimal way to avoid long term problems like back pain, a Diastasis Recti that's causing problems (aka non functional midline), tensed neck muscles or hip pain.

My top 10 tipps to returning to fitness are:

1- The first 6-12 weeks
(depending on if you had injuries during labour or not aka. C-sections scar, tears or cuts) are for recovery only!
REST, REST, REST as much as you can. It's not the time to get back into shape.

2 - attend a good postnatal recovery course (here in Germany called Rückbildung)
Good means: it's a closed course that's progressive, the instructor explains what's happening with your muscles and teaches you about your pelvic floor and core, checks for Diastasis and pelvic floor dysfunction, it is not an aerobics or yoga class

3- After the initial recovery course, pick a follow on program that's still postnatal oriented
Getting through the postnatal recovery class is usually not enough, postnatal recovery is very individual but can take up to 12 months before you are fit to return to pre-pregnancy workouts

4- choose exercises that don't exhaust you too much
You have a little child, you are very likely sleep deprived - an exercise regime that keeps you exhausted even the next day, is doing more harm than good

5- do something you enjoy
To keep up with the exercises it's so important that they make you feel good and that you enjoy doing them. Often it helps to do it in a group. Since that's not possible in person, you can find online classes with other mums

6- if something doesn't feel right, don't do it
Since recovery is such an individual thing, it's important to listen to your body. One exercise that feels great for another mum, might not feel great for you. And that's absolutely ok. Then it's important to talk to your instructor to get an alternative exercise or regress with a certain exercise until YOU are strong enough to do it.

7- Youtube is great, but Personal Training is better
While it's fantastic that we have all those resources these days to workout from home by ourselves, the problem I am seeing here is - that we don't often know, when an exercise we do isn't right. For example a lot of mums, still stand in the same position as when they were pregnant. Meaning their bum sticks out to the back, their belly pushes forward. Starting to do more strenuous exercises this way will hurt your back and keep your from rehabilitating your abdominal muscles. Have a specialised trainer help you here is highly advisable (at least until you got your body feeling back)

8- Incorporate relaxation into your workout routine
Stress and tension is really not helping with any healing processes in our body. Recovery requires some relaxation and trying to reduce your stress hormones.

9 - Any exercises that make you leak, are not ok right now
Loosing urine involuntary after giving birth (or at any stage of your life) is NOT normal. And often there are easy ways to fix that. You need a pelvic floor that's strong but flexible. If the exercises you are doing, causing you to loose urine it's time to find a specialist and figure out why that's happening and to do something about it. Don't accept it, you don't have to have that problem for the rest of your life.

10- Pelvic floor exercises are for life
Once your pelvic floor and core is strong again and you know how to engage all those muscles, it's important that you keep up the training for the rest of your life. A muscles that's going back to not being used properly will weaken again. And especially once we hit menopause and beyond we still want our pelvic floor to work.

If you need help or more information, don't hesitate to book a 1:2:1 consultation Dori or Kira - they are our specialists to help.

January 2021 Dori Randazzo
This blog post is a personal recommendation and based on personal experience. It has been prepared with the greatest possible care and does not claim to be correct, complete or up-to-date.“

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Updated: August 2022

Posted in in Pregnancy & Birth