Many new mums will be keen to start running again after having a baby, but it’s important to give yourself time to heal.
According to the NHS, you should only start exercising when you feel comfortable to do so. It’s sensible to wait until your six-week check up to receive the go-ahead from your doctor to start more strenuous activity.
Healing can take longer if you had a cesarean and health professions often recommend waiting at least 12 weeks before starting high-impact activities like running.
Olympic runner and mother Jo Pavey advises mothers to start walking before they run, and to build up their activity slowly.
“It’s special going out with your baby in the pram for the first time,” she said. “From the outset, be diligent with your pelvic floor exercises and start to introduce gentle core work when you’re able.
“When you’re ready, you could start by running for a couple of minutes, then walking for a couple of minutes, for a total of about 20 minutes, before progressing to short runs. Don’t run on consecutive days at first and take it slow to avoid injury.”
Jo also recommended introducing low-impact cross-training to gradually build fitness.
Your body will have changed through pregnancy and childbirth and you may have altered your posture or gained weight.
The hormone relaxin, which relaxes your ligaments in preparation for birth, continues to be released for up to six months after having your baby and periods often don’t return until after you finish breastfeeding.
Your pelvic floor will also have been compromised. You can build the strength of these muscles with the help of the NHS’s Squeezey App.
Charity Tommy’s suggests the following abdominal exercise, which will help you to protect your spine and promote good posture.
- Lie on your side and slightly bend your knees
- Relax your abdominal muscles and breathe in gently
- As you breathe out, gently pull in your abdominal muscles
- At the same time, squeeze your pelvic floor muscles
- Hold in your abdominal muscles and squeeze your pelvic floor for 10 seconds, then gently release
- Repeat this exercise 10 times
- Try to do this exercise three times a day
If your postnatal bleeding becomes heavier or changes colour after exercise, it’s likely you’re overdoing it and should slow things down.
Individual recovery times vary, so it’s worth speaking to your midwife or GP if you need further advice.
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