Postnatal Exercise Classes are specific workouts designed for women who have recently given birth. When performed correctly, these types of exercise aim to reconnect your core and pelvic floor muscles, build strength, and relieve the physical aches and pains of new motherhood.
Once you have the all-clear from your doctor, you can begin postnatal exercise classes as early as 6 weeks postpartum. It’s important to take it slowly and easily. It is also crucial you work with a practitioner who is experienced with postnatal recovery, as particular exercises are very different to standard classes.
What type of Postnatal Exercise Classes are best for new mothers?
For birth recovery and pelvic floor activation, postnatal Pilates is ideal. However, you’ll need to make certain adjustments to ensure the practice is safe for your body as you recover. To start mobilizing the body gently, postnatal yoga is another wonderful option. Yoga also has an incredible ability to ease stress and anxiety. This is especially helpful for anyone finding the demands of having a newborn difficult.
When is the right time to begin postnatal exercise classes?
You can begin postnatal exercise classes as early as 6 weeks postpartum. Once you receive the all-clear from your doctor at your 6-week checkup, it is safe to begin. But remember, postnatal classes should be different and more targeted than “regular” exercise classes. Some exercises and positions should be limited, changed, or avoided entirely.
A detailed guide to birth recovery exercises:
Here is a guide to safely engaging in postnatal exercise classes, and what you should expect to be doing at each stage of your recovery:
6-12 Weeks Postpartum
· Start slowly and mindfully. Take as much rest throughout classes as you need.
· Avoid deep or uncomfortable stretching around your hips & pelvis (especially if you have had stitches)
· Always focus on deep, slow breathing. Your diaphragm is one of your core muscles, so breathing deeply and effectively is one of the best ways you can rehabilitate your core function.
· Practice connecting and releasing your pelvic floor muscles. This is best done alongside your deep breathing – inhale to relax the pelvic floor, exhale to lift and engage.
· Perform gentle exercises on all-fours kneeling, laying on your back and side-lying.
· At this stage always keep head down when laying on the back – no “crunches” or curl-ups.
13-18 Weeks Postpartum
· Here you can start to include more standing balancing postures (near a wall for added support and to avoid injury if needed)
· Start adding load to upper body strength exercises
· At this stage it is important to continue connecting and releasing core and pelvic floor muscles
· You can also start adding resistance bands and small weights to exercises for additional challenge
19 Weeks Postpartum and Beyond
· By 5 months after the birth of your baby, you can start to return to pre-pregnancy exercises as long as your body is continuing to heal (you should not be experiencing any pain or incontinence)
· Continue to add resistance and small weights for challenge
· Continue upper body and more challenging core strength work such as plank and side plank holds
What are the benefits of Postnatal exercise classes?
There are so many benefits to starting postnatal exercise classes. In addition to helping balance hormones and start building strength, here are a few other advantages:
Gentle and specific postnatal exercise will improve your recovery time
Rebuilding strength in the body and reconnecting your core muscles will allow you to start moving again with ease. Mobilizing tight areas of the body can increase blood flow and relieve tension to tight muscles.
Help your posture return to pre-pregnancy
Your posture changes throughout pregnancy as the weight of the baby causes your pelvis to tilt forward. After you give birth, your body does not automatically return to its pre-baby posture. Postnatal classes can realign your spine and relieve lower back pain, pelvic pain, and neck pain.
Postnatal Exercise Can Make Future Pregnancies Easier
It is important to build your body back to a baseline of strength before you consider falling pregnant again. Each subsequent pregnancy will place additional stress on your body. Postnatal Pilates, in particular, can provide a good base of support.
Exercise can help your mental health
We all know that exercise is good for our mental health, especially when it comes to reducing anxiety and stress. Having a newborn baby is both physically and mentally demanding. Allowing time for yourself to exercise increases endorphins (feel-good hormones), regulates your nervous system and increases blood blow to your brain and body.
Exercise helps you to sleep better
Regular and gentle exercise has a positive effect on calming your nervous system, therefore providing better sleep. Your nervous system is responsible to helping to balance hormones and this is crucial as your body adjusts in the postpartum period.
Postnatal exercise classes are completely safe for you to practice as soon as 6 weeks post birth. It will aid your recovery and relieve stress. However, remember before beginning any fitness plan, always visit your doctor.