Getting your sweat on after having a baby

After you’ve had a baby, there can be massive pressure to get back to — or start -exercising. But between sleepless nights, feeds, nappies and then teething, getting out of your pyjamas before teatime can feel like a marathon! Whether you’ve got your routine down to a tee or you’re still settling into a new way of life, here are some This Girl Can thoughts for you mamas with new babies:

First up, don’t compare yourself. There’s a pressure put on women to ‘snap back’ or ‘get back to normal’ when, for most women, life is totally different after having a baby. You just had a baby — that’s amazing enough! — don’t compare where you’re at with anyone else.

Wait til you’ve had the six-week check before you think about getting fully active again — some simple stretching and walking is usually OK before then if you had a vaginal delivery (check with your midwife or health visitor). If you had a C-section, you’ll probably have to wait a bit longer (8–10 weeks) to let your body recover

Celebrate small achievements — Stephanie in our last This Girl Can ad did ‘mumhood’ classes where you use your baby as a weight. She said sometimes all she managed was to get to the class and then sit at the back — but that small achievement eventually became a bigger one

Listen to your body — your back and tummy muscles are likely to be weaker than before pregnancy and your ligaments and joints more prone to injury. Gentler activity for the first three months will ensure you don’t get hurt

A walk in the park — even getting out of the house with a baby can be NO walk in the park but if you can get out for a walk — whether 10 minutes or 60+ — it all counts. You should feel both physical benefits and benefits for mental health, thanks to the happy hormones activity triggers

Get jiggly with it — your body may be different to how it was before. You might worry about how it looks in lycra but remember it has done something INCREDIBLE. We know the vast majority of women — mums or not — worry about how they look when they exercise. That’s why This Girl Can celebrates real women bossing it in all their sweaty, jiggly glory!

‘Me time’ isn’t selfish — now a whole new little person is depending on you, they’re your priority BUT don’t be afraid to make time for yourself. Mums who are active inspire their kids to be active too.

Life can get in the way — it’s OK — you’re not going to do a perfect 150 minutes of exercise a week, every week. From teething to tummy troubles, life with a little one will keep throwing curve balls that get in the way of everyone’s best intentions. It’s OK to stop and start activity — just start again when you’re ready.

More helpful advice on exercising after having a baby can be found on the NCT website. You can also find tips on how to juggle running with motherhood on the RunTogether website.

Finally, remember the idea that sits behind This Girl Can:
Women come in all shapes and sizes and all levels of ability, it doesn’t matter if you’re rubbish or an expert, the point is you’re a woman and you’re doing something. Even if that ‘something’ is a ten minute walk with the pram, that’s fantastic.
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