Exercising as a new mum by The Postnatal Yogi

Exercising as a new mum by The Postnatal Yogi

The thing I found hardest about being a new mum was not having any time for myself. I was constantly on call for a tiny human who needed me 24/7. I couldn’t pop out to my local yoga studio after work or go for a run on my lunch break. Being a yoga and wellness teacher, it was a massive change and I felt restricted.

Not only this, I didn’t feel able or confident to do anything. I had a C-Section, and whilst it went very well, it left me in a position where the only thing that was recommended to me was gentle walking. And once I’d had my check up with the GP, it was all very vague; “yep, you can exercise now”. I was concerned I’d end up pushing my body too hard and damaging it!
To any of you feeling this way, you aren’t alone. First of all, remember that your body has grown a baby, carried it around and given birth to it. You are a walking miracle. Your body is recovering from a huge ordeal (growing a human for 9 months and birthing them!) so please let go this idea of the ‘bounce back’. Its ridiculous and frankly dangerous. Your body is perfect as it is.
However, there are a lot of benefits for you and baby when you take part in postnatal exercise….
  • Recovery from labour – our bodies go through a hell of a lot during labour; postnatal exercise can help strengthen your pelvic floor, strengthen your abdominal muscles and core muscle groups which may not have been used as much during pregnancy.
  • Pelvic floor recovery – whether you had a C-section or vaginal birth, your pelvic floor needs to be strengthened again after you’ve had your baby. Think about this - your baby sat on your pelvic floor muscles for nearly a year! This is really important to prevent incontinence, improve prolapse and it can even make sex better!
  • Releasing endorphins – happy mum, happy baby. Moving your body will help to release your ‘happy hormones’, which can help towards preventing postpartum depression.
  • Time to bond with your baby – exercising with your baby can be a lovely way to bond, maybe you have them in a sling when they are very little, and hold them in your arms when they are a bit bigger. They will love watching you pull funny faces at them or having a nap in your arms.
  • Time for you – whether your baby exercises with you or not, moving your body will help you regain some sense of self, essential for new mums.

So you know the benefits, now what?

  1. You must be signed off by a GP to exercise.

You will have a check-up appointment 6-8 weeks after your baby is born. After that you need to start gently, the hormone relaxin stays in the body up to 6 months after pregnancy and can make you feel more flexible than you really are. Your abdominal muscles may also be weaker and you may have something called diastasis recti (where the muscles in the midline of the abdomen separate), which is very common. All these things require you to ease yourself back in to exercise to avoid injury.


  1. Embrace the chaos!

Moving with your baby is not going to be the same as pre-baby. You might not be in a candlelit room where the only sound is singing bowls. Your baby might cry, want feeding or cuddling – and that’s OK! Embrace whatever happens each time you try some exercise.


  1. Set yourself up for success…

If exercising at home, grab baby’s playmat, a few of their favourite toys and a teether. If baby has a few things to occupy them during the session they’ll be happier. You can also keep a sling nearby to pop baby in if they get fussy.


  1. Even one minute of exercise is better than none!

You’ve set your baby up on the playmat, they’ve been fed and burped. You get onto your mat and… they start screaming their heads off! No amount of shaking that rattle is going to calm them down, they want cuddles with mummy. You’ve missed a whole part of the sequence on one side, disaster!

This is perfectly normal and part of postnatal exercise. Many of the women I teach pick up their baby at some point during the class to cuddle or feed them. Its highly likely you won’t do the entire class. Be adaptable, if you only manage 5 or 10 minutes of a class, that’s still better than nothing.


  1. Utilise rocking time

A simple idea is to swap out rocking your baby with standing exercises like lunges and squats – you are still moving baby around and they’ll probably really enjoy it if you add on some silly faces!


A simple routine to get you started….
Start knees slightly wider than hip width apart
X8 squats (as if you are sitting back in a chair), squeeze your pelvic floor as you come back up, the slower you go the harder you work!
Squat hold for 8 counts
X16 squat pulses, tiny movements up and down to really get into those legs and glutes!
From your squat, keep the legs the same width apart but take one leg back ready for your lunge (really important to keep a wide stable base when holding your baby!)
X8 lunges on the same leg, keeping upper body upright
X8 pulses
Swap to other leg and repeat
Come back to your squat position, and either repeat the first sequence, or try the following providing your baby can hold their head up.
Take a wide plie squat position, as you come up press baby up above your head and kiss them on the tummy, repeat x8
Give your baby a big cuddle and lots of kisses when you’ve finished!



About the author:

Chrissie is a yoga teacher and pre and postnatal exercise specialist. She is also trained in Yin Yoga, Yoga Nidra and Level 3 Exercise on referral. She teaches online classes for new mums with her little boy Finley. Find her on Instagram as The Postnatal Yogi (the_postnatal_yogi).



Focus Training: Level 3 Pre and Postnatal Exercise Instructor Manual



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