This normally depends on how fit you were before giving birth and whether or not you had a normal delivery or a caesarean section. After a normal birth and a caesarean section its worth waiting until you have your six week check at the doctors before starting strenuous activity such as jogging aerobics or an exercise class.
However if you had a normal birth then regardless of fitness pelvic floor exercises can be started as soon as a new mum feels ready. However do not do full sit ups until your pelvic floor has recovered fully.
If you exercised right until the end of your pregnancy then light exercises can be started almost straight away. I swam until the day before my first daughter was born and with a fairly easy delivery I started light exercise almost straight away. I was taking my baby for a walk within a week of the birth. However after the birth of my third baby I had a much more difficult birth and I did not start any exercise apart from pelvic floor exercises until after my six week check at my doctors. I think with so many of these things only you know how you are feeling!
So if you are feeling really well just start off gradually with light stretching and taking your baby out in the buggy. Listen to your body if you are over doing it then you will know. If you are feeling physically tired try and rest more. If you are over doing it, instead of your bleeding (lochia) reducing after birth it could start getting heavier again. If this happens its worth consulting your doctor.
Are there any reasons why I should not exercise?
If as so many new Mums find you wet yourself just a little at times when you laugh or sneeze then exercising hard will aggravate this. Its worth looking at increasing your pelvic floor exercises again. These can be done stood doing the washing up or stood in the bus queue and nobody need know just by clenching the muscles of your pelvic floor!!!
After having my third baby my stomach just was not going back in the way that it had with my other babies. I had something called diastasis rectus abdominus which basically meant my stomach muscles had stretched too much during pregnancy. My mid wife diagnosed me with this and with lots of lower tummy exercises and pelvic floor exercises I was able to rectify it myself but it is important not to do full sit ups until it has healed.
Lastly if you had back pain or pelvic pain during pregnancy consult your GP or a physiotherapist before exercising.
After your six weeks check and everything has returned to normal more strenuous exercise is an option but start gradually! things to consider:
- Exercise classes: A legs bums and tums class may be a good start. Always tell the instructor that you have only just had a baby and they will tailor the exercise to suit you and keep a keen eye on your to ensure you are not overdoing any of the exercises..
- Walking: With your baby in a pushchair or stroller is great for baby and Mum.
- Pilates: This is a great way to bring all your muscles back into action with support in the right areas, you will be able to take it at your own pace which is really important both for affect of the exercise but also for your self confidence and determination to continue! Pilates links so very well into yoga and any further aerobics activity so you can perhaps vary your “getting back into shape” regime by mixing your classes.
- Cycling: With your baby in a pull along baby trailer from about 6 months this may well be the opportunity to get yourself back into society!! You will meet up with other like-minded mothers whilst at the same time really getting yourself back into shape in a really pleasant way..
- Jogging: There is no reason, if you maintained your fitness levels throughout your pregnancy, why you are not able to start jogging or do more strenuous activity at this stage. I started jogging for an hour three to four times a week after my six week check with all my babies. My milk supply remained unaffected. However I needed a good support bra my nursing bra was simply not good enough! I would feed my baby beforehand and then would go for a run and it worked for me!
There is some research to suggest that after strenuous exercise that your milk will have higher levels of lactic acid and that this could change the taste of your milk for your baby. I never noticed any difference with my babies but that was my personal experience other mothers may notice other effects! If you have experienced differently we would love to hear through your comments below.