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When should I begin exercise after birth?

How soon is too soon and when will I be ready?

I know many of you love coming to yoga class and will be keen to get started with mum and baby sessions. I'm looking forward to seeing familiar and new faces in class too! As a general rule, new mums can return to exercise after birth somewhere between 6 and 12 weeks. Depending on the type of delivery you’ve had, this might be 6 weeks for natural births or around 10-12 weeks following a c-section. How you feel and how you recover will vary from woman to woman.

There are some simple, gentle exercises to begin to connect with your pelvic floor that you may have been given that you can do at home or in hospital right from birth. Remember to go steady and tune into your body. If you remember some pelvic floor exercises, to relax your shoulders, give yourself a few minutes now and then and tune into your breath then you're already continuing your yoga practice.

If you’re considering returning to yoga classes, you must gain GP’s consent from your doctor/health professional first. Your doctor's surgery will have you book a postnatal check appointment with them at around 6 weeks after birth. The timing of this appointment is set by your doctor and is also to do with the type of delivery you’ve had, so will vary. Some doctor’s nowadays do a “mother and baby check” at 8 weeks, to save time for example, so you therefore won’t be allowed to return to exercise until 8 weeks if this is the case.

What is discussed at this appointment varies greatly! Some doctor’s are very hands-on and perform a “rec check” on your stomach to ensure your abdominals have realigned properly, and others simply ask you a couple of superficial questions like “So, how are you getting on?”, you say “OK” and that’s about it! I’d strongly suggest that, if you have any questions or queries about how your body postnatally, or if you think something doesn’t feel quite right physically, use this appointment as an opportunity to have your questions answered, whatever the subject matter may be. If there's a problem you’re not addressing now it may stay with you for the rest of your life, unless it is properly assessed and treated.

If the doc's given you the go ahead that's great, but don't feel you *have to* go out and get moving immediately. It’s important that you don’t rush back into exercise if you aren't ready yet. Motherhood places an enormous amount of strain on your body, physically and emotionally, and it’s vital you listen and react accordingly. Trust yourself to know when you're ready to come to classes, and make sure you give yourself enough time to heal and be ready first. Don’t feel pressured. Every pregnancy is different, and every postnatal recovery is individual too.

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