Active mums

Support to help you recover safely and stay healthy after childbirth

Active mums

Being active after pregnancy is great for your physical health and emotional wellbeing.

Some of the benefits include helping to control weight and return to pre-pregnancy weight, improving tummy muscle tone and strength, improving sleep, improving mood and reducing worry and depression. It can also give you some time for yourself.

It is safe to be active following childbirth, but it's important not to do too much too soon. Priority should be given to rest, recovery and bonding in the early days, before gradually introducing activity. If you were active before or during your pregnancy, gradually re-introduce activities but start off with adaptations. If you were not active before your pregnancy, start gradually and build up your activity levels over time.

You can be active while breastfeeding. Being active when breastfeeding is safe and does not impact on breast milk quality or infant growth.

If you've had a straightforward birth, you can start gentle activity as soon as you feel up to it, such as walking, gentle stretches, taking the stairs, and being active with your baby.

Start pelvic floor exercises as soon as you can and continue daily.

After the 6-8 week postnatal check and depending on how you feel, moderate intensity activities can gradually resume. After about 3 months, in the absence of any issues, you can resume high-impact activities like running and jumping.

If you have had a caesarean, your recovery time will be longer and timings can vary from person to person. Try to stay mobile and do gentle activities, such as going for a daily walk while you're recovering to reduce the risk of blood clots.

It is still safe to undertake daily pelvic floor and gentle core exercises soon after birth as long as you haven't suffered any complications.

Only increase your activity levels when you feel able to do so and do not find it uncomfortable. You can ask your midwife or GP for advice if you are unsure.

Over time, gradually build up to aiming for 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity spread throughout the week. You don't need to do it in big chunks – every active minute counts!

Activities can include walking, exercise classes, taking the stairs, swimming, gardening, housework or any activity that makes you breathe faster whilst still being able to hold a conversation. It is recommended to wait seven days after post-natal bleeding has stopped before taking part in water activities to avoid risk of infection.

When you do start to exercise, it's important to pay attention to your body – you should stop if it's painful, when you are tired or if you feel unwell.

Gradually build up to including muscle strengthening activities twice a week, such as walking uphill, taking the stairs, carrying shopping bags, and pregnancy yoga.

In the first few months after birth, avoid activities that involve rapid twisting or lifting, or that place too much strain on the pelvic floor, stomach or back muscles. This will help avoid injury as your ligaments and joints are more supple and pliable following childbirth and your back and core muscles may be weaker than they used to be.

Only after you have built up your activity levels to a moderate intensity, (typically over a three-month period), and in the absence of any symptoms of incontinence, pelvic pain, needing to go to the toilet urgently, or heaviness or pressure in the pelvic area, should you introduce more intense activities. As you do, continue to increase your activity gradually, for example, return to running using a Couch to 5k programme.

Resources to help you recover safely

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