If you’re anything like me, you look for excuses to sit on your arse, eat crisps, and watch Netflix. So when you get even the tiniest inclination to move your body a little, and work up a minor sweat, it’s quite a big deal. Lockdown has somewhat scuppered that for me: my big postnatal fitness plan was to do loads of walking with the buggy, travelling around to seeing friends and family since they’re all back in London and I don’t drive, and by and large, using socialising and the sunshine to shift pounds without even realising I was doing it. But now we have to stay home- and I’m back to square one.
So I’ve asked postnatal fitness expert Lucy from Strong Mama Collective to put together a guide to getting back into exercising- in Lockdown!
(You can also find a core check demo and fitness routine over on my grid at the @fckimaparent instagram page- thanks Lucy!)
A mama’s guide to safely & effectively start exercise in the fourth trimester & during lockdown!
You’ve spent the last 9+ months growing your baby & watching your body change in all kinds of ways you never imagined. Now your little one is here you naturally want to start exercising, enjoy being able to actually move your body and feel like yourself. That is completely normal, here are my tips to getting started in the fourth trimester.
What happens during the fourth trimester?
You can think of the fourth trimester as your bodies time to recover. It's still going through a lot of changes like it was during pregnancy, but this time its to return your body to a state of ‘normal’. Your tummy gap will be closing, your pelvic floor will be recovering & re-strengthening. Along with your body working overtime to release your pregnancy hormones, create milk & trying to function on minimal sleep!
It can be very tempting to try a little workout or push your body a bit harder. But please remember this is such a short amount of time in the long run and your body will thank you for letting it recover. Give yourself time and remember how phenomenal your body is and what it's achieved.
When can you start exercising after having your baby?
The guidelines are you can return to exercise 6 weeks after delivery. It’s also ideal to have the go-ahead from your GP. I know it isn’t as straight forward at the moment, so definitely listen to your body and trust your gut. If you’ve had a c-section it's recommended that you wait at least 8-10 weeks following delivery.
My top pieces of advice for the fourth trimester
1. LISTEN to your body!
Your body will tell you if your working to hard or if something doesn’t feel right. Make sure to tune in with it and listen to the signs it's giving you. It’s not a bad thing to regress, remember your not in competition with anyone.
2. Ask for help
There are lots of professionals who are more than happy to help and give advice, especially to support mums during lockdown. If you have any questions or feel something isn’t right, reach out. I’m a pre
3. Light impact
For the first six months as a new mum, your body will still have a pregnancy hormone called relaxin, this loosens your muscles & joints. Also if your breastfeeding your body will keep producing relaxin. So when you start exercising, take care with impact and overstretching to help prevent injuries and joint issues.
4. Start with reconnecting (stretching, moving, core & PF) Your body might feel alien now that you can actually move and tie your shoes up! The first thing to do is take time to reconnect. Have a gentle stretch, tune in with your breathing, start engaging your core and pelvic floor. I know kegels are boring but they are super good to start strengthening!
5. Weeks 0-6 Go for a gentle walk, slowly increasing by 5 minutes each week. If your pelvic floor feels heavy or like its dragging it’s a sign you're doing too much. So take your walk intensity back a little bit until it gains strength.
You can start light exercise from week 6 as long as you don’t have any persistent bleeding or pain in the pelvic area. Definitely start gradually and build up. Exercises like squats, lunges, hollow holds and heel slides are great to get started with. I’d definitely recommend getting personal advice from a postnatal fitness specialist and join a postnatal class. You can find out about my classes & personal training further down).
6. How can you exercise with a new baby that wants all of your attention??? This one is a bit of trial and error but here is my advice and were my go too’s:
• I promise if your baby is awake (and fed) they will be happy to watch you exercise & see shapes they’ve not seen before. Also if you're breastfeeding, its best to feed before you exercise. Especially in the early weeks as your boobs might feel a bit uncomfortable if they are full.
• Babies love music & singing, so put on your favourite songs and sing to them while you move.
• If you’ve got enough energy, have a short workout while they sleep (you only need 20 minutes).
• If your partner is at home see if you can get 30 minutes or an hour to yourself!
7. Join an online live exercise class There are lots of free online workouts at the moment, 99% of them aren’t suitable for postnatal ladies. Try to make sure any workout you do is created by a qualified pre & postnatal specialist.
Our Strong Mama Restore & Recover class is designed specifically for postnatal ladies in the early weeks.
We focus on building strength, reconnecting with core & pelvic floor. Improving fitness & body confidence and it’s a brilliant way to meet other mums and join our community. Or if you want something completely personal I also support mums with online personal training via zoom.
If you’d like to join our class it's on a Saturday 8-9am via zoom. You don’t need any equipment and little ones are welcome to join so you can stop at any point for feeding or changing. You can book on www.strongmamaco.com
As you can probably tell I am super passionate about pre & post natal fitness and could talk for ages about it! If you have any questions or want a chat, please feel free to drop me a message either on:
I’d love helping mums feel their best and get back to feeling like them with fitness. So please remember don’t rush back exercise, listen to your body and have fun with it!