Post-Natal Training Tips

Post-Natal Training Tips and Considerations

The post-natal period can be a challenging time in terms of keeping a regular exercise routine. Although time to yourself will feel very hard to come by try to find 15-30 minutes two times a week where you can begin to exercise again. After giving birth it is usually recommended that a rest period of 6 weeks is taken in order to allow the body to rest and recover. However gentle core work can be done almost straight away depending on the individual.  Following a C-section it is recommended that this period should be extended to 8-12 weeks. The time taken to start exercising after giving birth is very individual therefore always seek medical clearance from your doctor prior to beginning a new exercise program.

There is a risk post-birth of injury from reduced joint stability due to the high levels of relaxin produced during pregnancy. Relaxin is a hormone that increases the elasticity of ligaments and cartilage in the body, particularly around the hips. How long relaxin stays in the body is still subject to debate, with estimates being between 3-12 months. In reality it is for as long as breast feeding takes place.

What this means in practise when exercising:

• Only stretch gently pre and post workout i.e. do not stretch to improve flexibility for 16-20 weeks after the birth.

• Avoid working to failure.

• Avoid high impact activities for the first few months.

Abdominal muscles will be weak and may take 6 weeks to fully recover. Gentle abdominal exercises in the early post-natal period is essential to encourage the muscles to strengthen and rehabilitate. Exercises such as pelvic tilting or tummy tightening would be a good place to start. However guidance and advice should be sought from your doctor if abdominal separation has occurred.

If you decide to breast feed during this time beware that both exercise and breast-feeding are big fluid drains on the body, leading to potential dehydration. Therefore make water consumption around exercise a priority.

Training should follow a similar format (with regards to intensity) to that of the third trimester for the first 2-3 weeks. As mentioned focus on core exercises as well as longer duration lower intensity aerobic exercise. Once a good base level of fitness has been established training can become targeted to a more specific goal.

It is important to remember that each pregnancy and birth are different and therefore how you should approach post-natal training will be very individual. The most important thing to do is listen to your body and if you are if any doubt seek medical advice from your doctor.