Getting in Shape After Your Baby is Born

Don’t rush trying to get into shape. It may take you a while to lose the weight you gained in pregnancy. But if you do things slowly, the weight is more likely to stay off, and you will be more able to maintain your fitness levels. Quick-fix weight-loss isn’t the best way of doing things.

Your body has done an amazing job of bringing your baby into the world, so allow it to recover.

When you’re ready, you can do some gentle exercise to help improve your fitness. Start with pelvic floor exercises and gentle lower tummy muscle exercise (not sit-ups) almost straight away, if your pregnancy and birth were straightforward.

Take a daily short walk with your baby in her pram or buggy. This will improve your circulation and give you a gentle workout. It may feel like a huge effort to get you and your baby ready for only a short walk, but you’ll feel better for it.

Spending some time out of your house or flat and exercising gently will help to lift your mood and give you more energy to cope with being a new mum. Though finding the time to exercise might be tricky, it is possible, if you make it a priority.

Don’t overestimate what you can do in the early days and weeks, though. Just do what you can manage, even if it’s just 10 minutes or 15 minutes at a time.

If you exercise too hard too soon after giving birth, vaginal bleeding (lochia) may get heavier, or turn bright red. This is a signal to slow down and take it easy for a while.

About six weeks after your baby is born, or after your postnatal check, you can gradually begin to increase the intensity of your exercise routine. Don’t go swimming until you’ve had seven days without any vaginal bleeding to prevent picking up an infection.

Build up to at least 30 minutes of continuous walking, five days a week. Once you can walk comfortably for 20 minutes, start to increase your speed. Walking a mile in 15 minutes is a good pace to burn fat and exercise your heart and lungs. Simply carrying a pedometer and monitoring how much walking you do during the day can motivate you to walk more, and help you to lose weight.

Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming is the best way to lose weight, if you combine this with healthy eating. Focus on fast arm and leg movements that make your heart beat faster. Allow yourself to get a little of breath but still be able to hold a conversation. If you struggle to do a full exercise session, three 10-minute sessions throughout the day will still be effective.

Find an activity that you enjoy. Joining an exercise group will keep you fit, and you’ll also meet other new mums. Most postnatal classes allow you to bring your baby, so you won’t need to worry about childcare. Your health visitor or midwife will have a list of classes in your area that are run by health professionals. See the Guild of Pregnancy and Postnatal Instructors.

Otherwise, you could try a postnatal exercise DVD. Look for a gentle workout that’s been accredited by a professional body. Pilates is ideal, as it focuses on your pelvic floor and the core muscles that are weakened by pregnancy and birth.

Talk to your partner about your need to exercise, so he can support you. Even looking after your baby for 30 minutes while you take a short walk will make a difference. Walking together is even better, as you and your partner get some exercise while spending time together.

If you’re breastfeeding, feed your baby or express before you exercise. Moving about with full breasts can be uncomfortable. A sports bra over your nursing bra will give you extra support.

Be reassured that combining breastfeeding with healthy eating and regular exercise will help you to gradually lose weight.


This information is provided by BabyCentre.