by Lisa Simpkinson
February 25, 2022

What Is The Postnatal Period?

The term “postnatal” often refers to the time and conditions following childbirth. For example, “postnatal depression”.

In the medical world, the term postnatal refers to the first six weeks after a woman gives birth when her body is still adjusting to not being pregnant. During this time, great changes occur as the uterus returns to its normal size, pregnancy hormones decline, and the body gradually recovers from the trauma of a c-section or vaginal delivery.

But contrary to what we have been taught, one does not stop being postnatal after six weeks. The postpartum marks the beginning of a new era – it’s anything but temporary. Pregnancy and childbirth have a long-term effect on your life and body, so the postnatal period is never truly over. It often takes women years after giving birth to find time for themselves.

Postnatal Exercise

Having a baby is a lot of work. The body needs time to rest and recover, so exercise is the last thing on the minds of some women after childbirth. But other women are anxious or excited to begin exercising so that they can get their pre-pregnancy bodies back. 

Postnatal exercise can help you lose the weight you gained after childbirth, relieve the stress that comes with a new baby, fight depression and anxiety, and restore your muscle tone.

Tips for Postnatal Exercising

1. Choose the Right Time to Start Exercising

Working out too soon after giving birth might lead to injuries. Whether you have had a C-section or a natural birth, it’s advised you wait for a medical practitioner to clear you for exercise at your 6 week check-up. 

2. Choose the Right Exercises

For those just starting out with postpartum exercise, stretching and low-impact activities are often the best. Avoid high-impact workouts or exercises that require rapid directional change. You should also avoid vigorous stretching. Recommended exercises include:

  • Swimming
  • Pilates
  • Yoga
  • Brisk Walking
  • Cycling
  • Aqua-aerobics

Be sure to take it easy at first to build your duration and intensity.

3. Try Pelvic Floor Exercises

Pelvic floor exercises (Kegels) do not replace cardio like cycling, but they are vital for your post-baby body.

With pelvic floor exercises, you will gradually strengthen your pelvic floor, which helps prevent pelvic organ prolapse and urine leakage. Also, a strong pelvic floor can make sex more enjoyable.

You can actually multitask Kegels with everyday tasks like breastfeeding your baby!

4. Wear a Well-Fitting Bra

Your bra choice can be the difference between a painful workout session and an enjoyable one. Wear a supportive bra when you are walking, stretching, or in general, doing any aerobic exercise.

If possible, try to exercise after you have nursed your body or expressed your breast milk so that your breasts don’t feel as full. Try wearing two sports bras for extra support if your breasts feel sore.

Postnatal Pilates

Postnatal Pilates is one of the most recommended postnatal exercises. It helps prevent lower back pain and neck tension by promoting total-body alignment and better posture.

The deep breathing that happens during Pilates helps oxygenate both the brain and the muscles, leading to increased mental clarity and an overall improvement in your mental well-being.

Postnatal Pilates is designed for the postnatal body. It is suitable for those who have had C-Section birth and those who have had a vaginal birth.

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