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Getting back into shape after your pregnancy

Getting back into shape after your pregnancy

After giving  birth, many mums are keen to get the body back that they had before they were pregnant. But you can’t just skip back to your old body as if nothing has happened. And sitting around waiting for your body to get itself back into shape doesn’t work either – you need to give it some TIME!

It takes about six weeks for the uterus to get back to its normal size, and it takes time for the body to transition from pregnancy hormones to breastfeeding hormones. 

It is WISE to consider what the body has gone through over the past nine months, but also during delivery itself.

I would recommend that you give it a year. That’s what my experience from thousands of mums tells me.

Why a year, exactly? Because it is the most realistic, given what new mums go through: sleepless nights, hormonal changes, breastfeeding, tiredness, and problems with their body following the delivery. So, where do you start and what should you think about?

0-3 months: Say hello to your fourth trimester

Your focus during this time ought to be finding yourself as a mum, getting breastfeeding started and getting to know your baby, and all the routines connected with those things.

In terms of exercise, you really need to focus on engaging your core and pelvic floor. Start healing from the inside and start working on your diastasis and your glutes. It is time to start dealing with your posture that has suffered during pregnancy, due to a changing centre of gravity.

Daily walks with the pram, but no marathons. Your hips and lower back are still under a lot of strain, since your core is too weak to carry your body.

No high impact workouts, definitely no running or jumping. More about that later.

Don’t forget your six-week check-up with your midwife!

3-6 months

By now you should be able to activate your core in many situations, such as when you cough, laugh or lift your baby from the bed. You are aware of your posture and will continue to work on your core and your glutes. Core exercises get tougher, e.g. modified planks, but your belly mustn’t look like a pitched roof or feel like your inner organs are spilling out.

You can now start with lighter strength training for the whole body, with resistance. The exercises I have in mind are deadlifting, squats, pull-down exercises, rowing and overhead presses. Your cardio work can be a bit more intense now, e.g. walking on a machine with different tilts.

It is still too early to go running, since as well as your core and the pelvic floor, you need to strengthen your whole body.

You don’t want sore muscles at this point – you should be able to move freely and without pain, in order to be able to look after your baby and feel full of energy when you’re awake. Your energy is needed!

6-9 months

You can continue your strength training and increase the intensity level, using supersets, tri-sets, or circuits. If you are doing high intensity exercise, keep it to 20-30 minutes, since very long workouts put too much strain on the body.

Some tips to consider when you start:

  • Avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby in the first 6-8 weeks.
  • The first thing to do is to learn to engage your core muscles.
  • Start BREATHING. I call breathing the best stomach exercise, and pay a lot of attention to it, both with my online clients, but also my private clients- it’s all I talk about.
  • Many people don’t know how to breathe properly. When we are stressed, we breathe shallow breaths and when we are pregnant, we breathe shallow breaths (since the diaphragm, which is a part of our core gets pushed up by the growing baby).
  • Walks are the first physical activity to engage in as a new mum. Walking has many benefits – most of all it’s relaxing. What about if you can’t exercise? Or you haven’t slept for several nights? You can always go for a walk. Everything feels so much better after an hour in the fresh air.
  •  Find your pelvic floor, using pelvic floor exercises.

These may seem like simple steps, but they are just so fundamental! If we find the core and the pelvic floor, we can put more strain on the body and carry on with our daily lives and our workouts. All these things are equally important!

Updated January 27, 2022

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