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How to safely return to exercise after birth

Updated: May 26, 2023

I always remember my first walk to the corner shop. I knew I had to take things "slow" as i'd had a forceps delivery, but I what harm could a short 3 minute walk do? For perhaps the first time in my life I felt that something was going to fall out of me or my legs were going to give way. I found things jiggled more than they ever had done before and my boobs were already leaking when I got home. the whole performance was a mere 6 minutes long and I felt utterly defeated.


How could this be? I continued to exercise throughout my pregnancy and now I couldn't even manage a small walk to get some milk? 3 months later, I felt physically better but no stronger. My cellulite had made a home upon my knees and my stomach was a lovely soft jelly cushion that my miniature dachshund enjoyed far more than I did.


I really knew that getting back into fitness was going to be tough, and my body would have to endure some pain before I got any gain. As a health visitor, I was fully aware that the body needed to adapt. I just started moving, in any way possible. Mainly long long walks with my reflux baby and long long dog walks with my tiny dog.


My main advice would be do not wait to get the motivation to exercise. Don't think about it, just do it. Move in any way possible, take the stairs not the lift, walk to the shops instead of driving etc. To be honest getting a baby in a pram rather than a car is far easier in my opinion!


Really take your time returning to any sort of exercise "routine". I say "routine" lightly because babies do not come with routines. Be kind to yourself, its impossible to structure a weekly spin class on a Saturday morning as babies do not always play ball. Slow and steady approaches are much more likely to get results than unrealistic goal setting.


Your body WILL feel different after having a baby. You will forever have reminders that you grew a tiny human and these reminders are not anything to be ashamed of. When starting to exercise, social support is absolutely necessary for success. If you are working in a class full of fellow sleep deprived mammas you are far more likely to succeed.





Breast feeding or not the hormone relaxin will be in your body for weeks, and sometimes months post delivery. Relaxin increases the risk of injury as your joints are more mobile. Make sure you return to exercise safely and slowly otherwise you may be on a longer road of recovery after pushing yourself too far.


If you want to exercise with your baby, absolutely go for it. There are no rules about needing to exercise whilst your baby attends a creche. For some mums, this is an absolute no go zone and that is FINE. Don't listen to the chitter chatter of "what you should do" and go with what is right for you and your baby.


So getting to the point, how will I know I am safe to exercise post birth?


There is absolutely no right or wrong answer but slowly reintroducing exercise will reduce your chances of injury and your overall results will be better. Make sure that you always see your GP before starting any form of exercise, especially if you have had a complicated birth or recovery.

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