Short answer: If you've had a vaginal birth – with no complications which might impact your ability to exercise – gentle exercises like walking can be started as soon as you feel up to it, but if you’ve had a caesarean or ‘difficult’ birth, it's best to wait until you feel ready and have had the ok from your doctor to do so.
Always consult with your doctor or midwife before you start any postnatal exercise program or sport. Your health carers may advise you to wait until your 6 week check, or even later, depending on the type of delivery you’ve had. In the meantime, you may have been given pelvic floor exercises to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and the supporting ligaments that can be started within a day or 2 post-delivery. These are a good starting point to any postnatal exercise program or sport on your horizon.
Remember every woman’s body is different and in the early days post-delivery, take it slow and go at your own pace. Finding time for physical activity can be quite challenging and there will be days when you’re just too tired for any kind of exercise. However, the benefits of gentle activity should not be underestimated and can improve both your physical and mental well-being.
Physical benefits include raised energy levels and restoration of muscle strength – particularly your abdominal muscles. It is normal to carry some extra weight after pregnancy and exercise can help restore you to a healthy weight range. Exercise is a natural mood enhancer and stress reliever and may help to prevent postnatal depression.
Initially, it is best to choose gentle exercise that you can gradually incorporate, such as walking, swimming, post-natal yoga or Pilates, and low-impact aerobics and light weight training.
Re-introducing your body to an exercise routine may feel challenging. It is a good idea to enlist the help of professionals who can offer peace of mind about how and when to start exercising.
WLC Medical’s Allied Health team can assist you with many aspects of your pregnancy and postnatal health. Our physiotherapist Adam Johnston offers pregnancy-safe physiotherapy treatment, as does remedial massage therapist Calum Johnston at Advanced Deep Tissue. For your mental health support we have psychologist, Dave Simich, Keystone Counselling and Belmont Counselling. Julie from Perth Paediatric and Family Clinic is a nurse practitioner and available to help with informed medical support for both mother and baby, inclusive of prescriptions and referrals.
We also have Clinipath Pathology onsite 5 days a week from 7.30am – 11.30am to assist you as required. As an allied health team, we’ll do our best to assist you in achieving your happiest and healthiest self at this most exciting and rewarding time.