Getting fit after giving birth is very personal and often depends on the woman and delivery. It’s important to consult your doctor before exercising as strenuous activity too soon can lead to infection – the time varies but you should wait roughly 6 weeks, or 12 weeks after a C-section. After this time period, gentle exercise is vital as it can help knit your core back together as it will have stretched out like a balloon during birth!
Understandably, it can be hard to build motivation to exercise when you have a family and household to run and are exhausted from lack of sleep. However, achieving a healthy level of fitness is worth the effort as it can help with: the release of endorphins, focusing on yourself, getting fresh air, increasing energy levels, meeting new people and preventing later injuries.
Exercise should be enjoyable, whether it’s a country walk with your baby or going for a gentle jog around your local park.
Best foot forward
At the start of your postnatal stage, walk for maybe 15 minutes and then slowly increase this. Remember that getting back to fitness is brilliant for your health but it has to be done gently; your body has gone through a massive change physically and hormonally and breastfeeding needs energy to create milk. Therefore, listen to your body carefully. When brisk walking, ensure you consider your posture:
- Engage your glutes
- Don’t round your shoulders
- Keep your elbows tucked in
- Contract your core (abs)
Walking with pushchairs
When your baby is first born, any pushchair is suitable for getting outdoors, but if walks in the country are your thing then bigger wheels and suspension are important.
Phil & Teds offers some great 3 wheelers that would be a good starting point (Phil & Teds Mountain Buggy and OutnAbout also have suitable products).
Alternatively, baby carriers are a brilliant, hands-free way to carry your baby without having to take a pushchair. It also allows for a wonderful bonding experience between parent and baby. Please remember that carriers are not suitable for sporting activities!
Put a bounce in your step
We advise that women don’t try jogging until their baby is over 6 months – once your baby is 6 months and your core is a little more stable you will be super ready to jog! Try building your stamina and burning fat by jogging for 1 minute and brisk walking for 1 minute. Jogging is a brilliant way to get fit which does not cost a fortune and you can do with your little one in tow! Ensure you consider your posture in the same way as recommended for brisk walking.
If you want to take your child on a run with you then there are some great buggies which are specially adapted for running – check the product guidelines to ensure whether or not your buggy is suitable. The Mountain Buggy Terrain is suitable for jogging and also the OutnAbout Nipper Sport. The important features to look for are:
- A brake on the handle bar for easy breaking,
- A lockable front wheel
- Suspension for a comfortable ride for baby
- Pneumatic tyres
Get your kit on
There are two main things to remember before starting your fitness journey:
Get a good sports bra
The breast is a fragile organ and it is essential to wear a correctly fitting sports bra that provides horizontal and vertical support. Sports bras with cups (encapsulation bras) give more support than the crop-top style designs. Wearing a sports bra can reduce strain on the upper back and neck and reduce joggers’ nipple!
Choose the right running shoes
Not every runner is the same and it’s important to choose a running shoe which is suitable for your gait. Runners who overpronate (the foot rolls inward) should consider wearing a support shoe.
To find out what type of runner you are you just need to do the simple wet test, and for this all you need is a bowl of water, a dark piece of paper (a brown or manila envelope is ideal) and your feet. Just dip the sole of your foot into the water, shake off any excess, then press your foot onto the paper/envelope as if you were walking over it. Match the imprint left behind to the symbols used below to find out what type of runner you are. See this handy video for a demonstration:
Some good fitness clubs and resources