Post-natal exercise offers
a whole range of benefits for new moms. However, it's important to remember that
you should always consult with your doctor before starting up an exercise
program. What kind of delivery you had will determine how quick you can resume
back to your exercise plan. It's generally advised that you wait until your 6
week post-natal check up.
Caution is required before
jumping back into an exercise program, especially with your abdominals. During
pregnancy, your abdominals will separate from the added pressure of the baby.
This is called diastasis recti. It's important that you minimize the separation,
allowing the abs to function properly, and also before doing any strenuous
abdominal work. Simply perform the following test to gauge your separation.
Lay on your back with your
knees bent and your fingers placed above your belly button. Now, lift your head,
neck and shoulders off the floor and you will feel if you have a gap in between
your abs. If you do feel a gap, measure by fingers the size of the separation, 2
fingers and above, I recommend you do the following exercise every day before
doing any other abdominal exercises. This will train the abdominals back
together again, creating a stronger, stable spine.
Towel Abs Exercise
Lay on your back with your
knees bent and heels inline with the sit bones (Those bony parts you feel under
you when you sit). Wrap a towel around your midsection and cross the towel over
the abs (holding at each end). Lift your head, neck and shoulders off the floor,
exhale and draw your abdominals in toward the spine and pull the towel tight.
This will pull the abs together, retraining them in their correct position.
Repeat this for 10 times every day and keep monitoring the separation.
Benefits of postnatal
1. Helps to reduce
post-natal depression known as the "baby blues"
2. Quicker recovery back to
your pre-pregnancy body
3. Increased much-needed
4. Stress release (time to
focus on yourself)
Be Patient with Your
After childbirth, I was
amazed how my once-tight tummy looked like a deflated balloon. Don't panic, this
is normal. Over the next few weeks, your uterus will naturally contract back to
its pre-pregnancy shape. Breastfeeding will expedite this process, causing the
contractions to be stronger and more frequent. However, I must stress that this
alone is not enough to get your pre-pregnancy body back. Post-natal exercise
will speed up the recovery process and build valuable strength your body needs
to keep up with the hectic schedule of caring for your newborn. Be patient with
yourself. It may take a few months or possibly longer, depending on how much
time you can dedicate to working out.
Tips to find time to
1. Buy a daily planner and
loosely plan your workouts around your baby's schedule. For example, in the
morning after the first feeding, go for a nice walk with the baby in the
stroller. (Start with a flat terrain and then progress to different elevations).
Next, when the baby goes down for her nap, you have can take 15 minutes to do
some core conditioning exercises. Yes, it does require willpower, but when you
start seeing results, this will keep you inspired to do more.
2. Join a "Mommy and Me"
exercise class. Check out your local hospital or pediatrician to find classes.
These are a great way to bond with your newborn and fit in much needed exercise
time for you. A win-win situation for both parties!
3. Create a library of
exercise videos that are different lengths so you're already equipped for when
you find unexpected time.
4. Perform exercises while
you're doing daily activities. Pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises) can be
done anywhere and are very valuable for achieving a strong, stable pelvic area,
which is usually lax due to pregnancy hormones still present (especially if
Exercise safety tips
1. Invest in a good support
bra. Your breasts are going to be larger than normal from the milk production
and will need a lot of extra support.
2. Be careful of
high-impact sports due to lax pelvic ligaments and joints left over from
pregnancy. This is why core (abdominal work is key after pregnancy preventing
lower back and joint injuries).
3. Make sure you drink lots
of water to replenish yourself, especially when breastfeeding.
4. Listen to your body. If
you're feeling tired, go easy on yourself. Try not to push yourself until you
5. If you start to feel
light headed and nauseous, or notice a change in the color of your vaginal
discharge, consult with your doctor. You may be exercising too strenuously.
I recommend Pilates for
core conditioning and weight training and cardio for weight loss. Try to fit 2-3
times a week of cardio activity (walking, running and hiking) for 30-45 minutes
and general body conditioning at least 3 times a week.
Enjoy this amazing time
with your baby. You have created the miracle of life. A little extra weight is a
small price to pay for a bundle of joy. Be patient and your body will be back to
normal in no time.
About the author
Tracey Mallett is an
internationally-recognized certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist.
She is also a certified fitness instructor, Gyrotonic® and Master Pilates
instructor. Tracey is the creator and star of the “3-In-1 Pregnancy System,” the
first DVD of its kind combining Pilates, Yoga and strength training for pre- and
post-natal mothers. Her newest videos are “Renew You" and “Super Body BootCamp."
A proud mother of two, Tracey hails from Bloxwich, England. Visit her online at