Exercise for a New and Exhausted Mum

Finding time to even shower as a new mum is often hard, never mind fitting exercise into your busy schedule. It is often difficult to know where to start and when to start. It sometimes appears that celebrity mums are blessed with amazing weight loss powers and are already back in their bikinis within one week of giving birth. However, experts agree that we should not put the same pressure on ourselves. (And let’s remember; they probably have a nanny, personal trainer, cook, and airbrushing experts to help them!).
Every woman differs in terms of fitness levels, their experience of childbirth and its effects on their body and also whether or not they are breastfeeding. Therefore, this means that there is no specific time frame for getting back into shape. Listening to your body and being sensible with how much you do is the most important thing in the first year after giving birth.
Getting into shape after having a baby needs to involve healthy eating, specific exercises, plenty of sleep and also taking some time to enjoy yourself. With the help of our Prenatal and Postnatal Instructor, Hester Campbell, we have come up with some useful tips that will help you get back into shape after giving birth.
WHEN DO YOU BEGIN EXERCISING?
If you have had a natural birth it is definitely advisable to wait six weeks before starting to exercise properly (usually after your six-week check-up). After a medical professional has given you the go-ahead you can start adding low impact exercise into your daily routines. Running and aerobics are not advisable forms of exercise at this stage, waiting until 20 weeks after giving birth are sensible. Often it can take up to a year for you to get back to high-intensity exercise, everyone is so different! Just make sure that you listen to your body and stop if you experience any pain or discomfort. Stick to walking and swimming and increase intensity and impact very gradually.
TAKE THINGS EASY
To begin with, it is very important to go slowly and listen to your body. You have just produced a human life – that is not easy!
THINGS TO CONSIDER
Pelvic Floor – Often a woman’s pelvic floor is weak after childbirth and so putting into-abdominal pressure (like crunches, Pilates or general ab work) can put too much pressure on the pelvic floor and inhibit healing or even lead to a chance of organ prolapse. One of the first forms of exercise you can start to incorporate in your daily routine can be a kegel routine, re-strengthening or even re-familiarising yourself with your pelvic floor muscles. Follow this link for more advice on kegel exercises.
Repairing Diastasis – it is very common after childbirth that women experience a separation of the abdominals – aka the six-pack muscles, this is called Diastasis. Your care provider can check this for you when you return for your six-week check-up. If this is severe enough, you may need to work with a physical therapist to help draw the muscles back together. So, when easing back to an abdominal workout, be mindful not to overdo it.
Wobbly joints – the hormone that is responsible for softening the ligaments and joints during pregnancy and childbirth, can stay in the body for up to six months, or longer if you’re breastfeeding. This hormone is called relaxin and prepares the pelvis for delivery of the baby by softening the ligaments between the bones of the pelvis. This can lead to wobbly, unstable joints and a loose pelvis. Again, just be mindful that the activity that you choose is not too jerky in movement.
Baby Brain – Many mothers have felt forgetful during pregnancy and shortly after becoming mothers. The main thing is not to beat yourself up about this and if you don’t feel like you’re able to exercise that day and are stressed, then there is no pressure to.
TYPES OF EXERCISE
Walking
Walking is one of the easiest ways to ease into a fitness routine after giving birth. Your baby will love the fresh air too! Everything from a leisurely stroll to a pumped-up power walk can do wonders for you and your body. Carrying the baby in a baby carrier will also give you an automatic extra ‘weight’ that can increase the benefits. Hester says that this is the first form of exercise she started doing after giving birth and was a great way of losing baby weight.
Swimming
The water supports you – making swimming the perfect low-impact weightless exercise, and your baby learns to be confident in the water. There are also lots of mother and baby swimming sessions that are, as well as being good exercise, a great way to meet other mums.
Buggy Boot Camp/Buggy Fit
Exercising with your prams is such a good idea for mums that don’t want to leave their babies at a crèche but still would like to do something active. The exercises are all fitted around you and your buggy and usually run as programs so you see a steady improvement in your fitness levels.
InstructorLive – Pre & Postnatal Class

This class is for pre/postnatal women and will help you prepare for labor and then speed your recovery and give you strength for carrying your baby whilst inevitable multi-tasking. Live and interactive classes are every Wednesday morning at 10.00 am. This session is a tailored ‘mum workout’ that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home. You can also ask Hester any questions you need answering during the class and she will do her very best to answer them! You can try InstructorLive for free to see the amazing benefits of this class and any of our other fantastic classes.
NUTRITION
Your body is working hard to repair itself after you give birth, so it is not advisable to diet right after giving birth. Fad diets, in particular, eliminate whole food groups which are not what your body needs at this time. Fill your diet with a variety of nutrient-rich meals containing lean protein, whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables and plenty of low-fat dairy products.
Stress eating – Becoming a new mum is an extremely stressful time, what with the crying, the nappies and the lack of sleep. This, in turn, can cause you to stress eat. If you are the type of person that when stressed turn to food as a coping mechanism, you may see your weight rise in the first few months of giving birth. However, there are things that you can do to deter yourself from a demolishing a whole carton of Ben and Jerry’s, including:
– Write down what you eat in a food diary and also note what emotions you felt before, during and after you ate it. This will help you identify which emotions are triggering your binge eating.
– Eating small, frequent meals throughout the day will keep your blood sugar levels steady and help prevent you from overeating. If your calories are distributed throughout the day they are metabolized more efficiently and are less likely to be stored as fat.
– Arm yourself with a list of things to do instead of eating and post it on the fridge. When you feel stressed and head to the fridge, pick up another calming activity like going for a walk or taking a bath. This way you will train your brain to get its needs met without food.
REST
Being a new mum is EXHAUSTING. You probably don’t need telling twice but take a nap anytime that the baby does. It is important that you don’t sacrifice sleep for exercise, especially in the first couple of months. Plus, while you’re asleep it means that your cravings are also kept in check!
LIFESTYLE

It is so important when you have a baby to still continue doing things that you enjoy. It can be quite a lonely time for some people and so while exercise, nutrition and rest are so important, you won’t feel like focussing on any of these things if you are unhappy. We have compiled a list of a few fun mum and baby activities that will help you meet new mums and hopefully bust your baby blues!
Gymboree – Gymboree was recommended by Hester as a great place to meet new mums and is a great place for your baby to learn new things and meet other little ones. Gymboree incorporates music, children’s props, imaginary play, and custom-designed props to engage children. It is a class for both parents and children, with the understanding that children learn better and are happier when their parents are involved too! Check out their website to find the nearest Gymboree in an area near you.
Mothers’ Meetings/Clubs – Mothers Clubs are a great way to meet new and likeminded mums and get out and socialize. If you are living in the London area, we would really recommend, London Mothers Club. This is an events club for mums that specializes in a variety of events such as Pamper Parties and Craft Clubs. The beauty of each event is that you can bring your little ones along with you as there is a babysitter onsite. Check out their website for more information:
Parent and Baby Film Screenings – Another activity that is highly recommended by Hester are Parent and Baby Film Screenings. You can relax and watch a film in a social environment. There are lots of different cinemas that offer parent and Baby film screening and now the summer is here there will be screenings taking place in parks too.
We hope you have found this information useful and if you need any more advice relating to exercise and how to get your body back into shape after childbirth you can ask post a question on our Live Community page.