When can you get back to running after having a baby?

Running – it’s easy to do isn’t it. You can step out
from your own front door. You don’t need much
equipment….BUT when can you get back to running after
having a baby?

In this day and age of super-information, there is
actually very little accurate information, and even
less support, for Mums wishing to get back to being
active after having a baby.

What’s more, many Mums feel ‘pushed’ into re-starting
some form of exercise to “get rid of their baby belly”
or “regain their pre-pregnancy body”. The pressure is
real in that it is all around – pictures in magazines,
items on the news*, then there’s the pervasive power of
social media.

* these may not be news items about returning to
fitness post-natally but how many stories have there
been on the Duchess of Cambridge regaining her figure
after 2 babies?????

So you go along to your 6 week post-natal check with
your GP during which s/he tells you you’re “ok to
return to exercise”.

^^^ I have a problem with this statement.

Whilst I realise I am making sweeping generalisations
and that there are (hopefully) some GPs out there who
take more care and consideration, this is based on the
feedback from clients attending my own Post-Natal
Restoration & Recovery courses as well as private
post-natal clients.

These post-natal checks are less of a check of the Mums
and more of a check-box exercise.

Internal examinations to verify healing after a vaginal
delivery and external examinations to test the healing
of a C-section scar are becoming increasingly rare.

Then there’s the fact that this question fails to take
any consideration of:

 

– what the Mum did activity-wise before she fell
pregnant and how fit she was up til then

– whether the Mum suffered any pain or discomfort
during the pregnancy such as pelvic dysfunction

– whether the Mum continued activities during the
pregnancy of not

– how well the birth went, how long it took and what
interventions were required

– how the Mum has been looked after since the birth

– whether she’s had chance to rest and recover in the
days and weeks after delivering her baby

– how her pelvic floor is coping and healing (even with
C-section deliveries) – does Mum have a separation of
the abdominals (diastasis recti)

– what type of activity the Mum intends to return to
post-natally and at what level (intensity) and frequency

Do I think ALL of these points are necessary
pre-screening questions for a post-natal lady?

YES!!! ….and more besides too.

So when can a ‘new Mum’ get back to running?

To a certain extent, it depends on the answers to those
questions above – BUT it’s certainly NOT at 6 weeks
after delivery!

What should you do first?

Rest and recover!

Bringing home a baby and learning to care for him/her –
or learning to manage more than one child – is a huge
task. You will have had very little time to recover
from the birthing process itself, which takes a huge
toll on the body physically, mentally and emotionally.

Your sleep will be intermittent at best with a newborn.
Your body needs sleep and rest to heal from childbirth
and restore your body after the demands of pregnancy.

Furthermore, your hormones have gone through an
almighty upheaval from the latter stages of pregnancy,
to childbirth itself to the early post-partum period.

Thinking about rushing back to a heavy or impact-based
exercise programme when you struggle to get out of your
pyjamas each day just doesn’t make sense.

Focus on resting as much as possible and nourishing
your body with nutrient dense food, whilst staying well
hydrated too.

^^^ These ‘simple’ steps will support your body’s
recovery immensely.

Avoiding the sugar rollercoaster, where it’s just
easier to grab a ‘quick snack’ on the go, or feeling
too tired to prepare natural food based meals is key to
supporting your restoration post-childbirth.

Do you have abdominal separation?

Your 6 week post-natal check will rarely (and I’m being generous)
check this. We now know that most, if not all women,
will experience a separation of their abdominals during
the latter stages of pregnancy to accommodate their
growing abdomen.

In a perfect world, with full rest, support and great
nutrition, nature takes care of this gap in the early
post-partum period.

However, we’re not in a perfect world and Mums are ‘on
the job’ from as little as a couple of hours after the
birth. As a result many of the post-natal women I see
still have some degree of abdominal separation at 3
months after childbirth.

Understanding what this separation is (and why it’s
important), having it assessed and appreciating the
care required to support it’s healing, as well as
learning how to create tension through that midline are
absolutely vital before loading your body in any way –
whether with weights or impact exercise.

What movement can I do then?

As soon as you feel ready you can start reconnecting
with your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor. Focussing
on breathing technique can support your restoration
hugely too.

If you’re not sure how to go about this, look for a
female health physio in your area or courses such as
our Stronger Mummy programme or Holistic Core Restore EveryWoman programme.

Get out walking too. Any natural activity that gets
you moving without leaving you feeling drained,
exhausted or in pain (particularly for C-section Mums)
should be a good thing.

I had a C-section so do I need to worry about restoring
my pelvic floor?

Yes!

During your pregnancy, the weight
above your pelvic floor increased dramatically. Not
only this, but the front loading of that weight – given
where your baby grows – changes your centre of gravity.
This can change your alignment.

Sometimes this change of alignment puts further
pressure onto, or stretches through, your pelvic floor
muscles.

All of the above mean that, even if you’ve had a
C-section, your pelvic floor will absolutely need some
TLC, and reconnecting with your abdominals, diaphragm
and spinal muscles is essential to your long-term
health & wellbeing.

Dealing with alignment changes and new Mum aches

As the section above mentioned, your alignment changes during
pregnancy and then again after your baby is born as a
result of carrying and then birthing your baby.

The post-natal period brings with it more changes as
you tend to hold baby in front of you for soothing,
carrying, feeding and snuggling.

As a result, how we hold ourselves changes.

This can lead to aches across the upper back and neck,
down the spine and across the lower back too.

Practical approaches you can easily incorporate to
support your body through this are:

– using cushions
to support you when holding baby in a seated position,
so that you can allow those shoulders to relax back

– stand tall when walking, especially behind your
pram, rather than leaning forward to “push” it

– take time to feel where your body is:  

  •  stand with your back and head against a wall, heels slightly
    in front relax back into the wall and allow your body
    to open

 

  • OR lay on your back on the floor, with knees
    bent feet flat on the floor while your baby is on their
    play mat – again allow those shoulders to relax back
    towards the floor

What can I do next?

As a Mummy, it’s incredibly
important to know how to lift heavy objects (your car
seat with baby can weigh up to 30kg!) with correct
form.

What does that even mean?

Motherhood requires us to do a lot of forward bending
work. Even just sitting, nursing your child tends to
round the back and bring the shoulders forwards.

Think about the number of times you sit down and stand
up in a day. Let’s face it, the munchkins have
pressure sensors under every seat and pillow in the
house – so as soon as your buttocks touch down they
NEEEEEEED you!

Exercises that strengthen the muscles down the back of
your body (posterior chain), whilst reconnecting you
with your core (building on those early post-natal
restorative movements) and releasing tightness down the
front of your body make a great approach.

What does that mean in terms of movements?

Do you need loads of equipment?

The answer to those 2 questions comes in one answer –
bodyweight exercises. That is movements using only
your body.

Examples include squats, lunges, upright press-ups in
simplest form.

My Stronger Mummy programme  builds
technique for these key moves, amongst others and
provides simple circuits to complete at home – allowing
you to move more freely, strongly & confidently.

While my  Holistic Core Restore EveryWoman programme

takes things a step further with resistance based training that is core and floor friendly.

But I feel fine!

That’s great!

However, we know that full healing from pregnancy and
childbirth takes a year…plus.

Think of it a bit like building a house:

• First you’d get planning permission and check your
budget and that everything is in order = post-natal
checks & assessments

• When building work commences you first have to lay
the foundations = reconnecting with your core muscles,
especially the pelvic floor and learning how to focus
your breathing to aid restoration

• You’d then build the first storey first –
remembering that it will have to carry the weight of
any floors above = releasing tight muscles,
strengthening muscles and movements to make your
everyday activities more efficient and safe for your
spine and body

• With good foundations and a solid first storey,
you can then think about building higher = choosing
another level or approach to add to your health and
wellbeing approach

So when can I start running?

People always press me to give them a number of weeks
or months post-natally when they can “start running”.

There is no generic answer.

I simply can’t give you a number – there are too many
variables to be that specific.

You do now have a kind of checklist, using the headings
above.

 

• Has your diastasis recti healed?

• Is your pelvic floor ready? Do you need a female
health physio check to be sure?

• Have you addressed and relieved any post-natal aches
and pains you’ve been feeling?

• How confident and strong do you feel doing everyday
activities like lifting your baby, lifting baby & car
seat, etc?

• Do you feel ready?

The last point is really subjective.

I always say to clients that I can listen to what they
say, I can read their expressions, I was see how their
body is responding….but I cannot feel it for them.
Only they truly know how their body feels.

If you feel ready and feel confident of all the other
points then by all means have a run BUT

– start with a short distance

– combine walking fast
with short distance jogs

– start slow

– a steady pace is what’s required

– listen to your body

– if you feel any leakage, pressure or heaviness in your
pelvis or pressure, bulging or weakness in your abdomen
then STOP and walk

Remember that your body will do its utmost to respond
to the requests and demands you place on it.

Pelvic floor issues can rear their heads several months and
even years after childbirth when we overdo it. Taking
the time to allow it to heal, the love to restore it
and then continue to listen to it forever are key
strategies.

Leakage is really common and yes you can easily get
pads to deal with it…..this is not normal though.

Left untreated, this can contribute to greater issues
further down the line so if you are ever in doubt
please do get it checked and never leave well alone in
this department.

Do I think you should go running?

This is a purely subjective addition to this article based on my views.
Yes those views are based on education, qualifications
and research but also on personal experience – both my
own and with clients.

None of those people are You though….please bear that
in mind.

I do completely understand the lure and advantages of
running. The freedom it brings, the fresh air, the
movement. To some extent you could also argue that the
impact element may (and I emphasize “may”) support bone
health .

However, I do think you will get more “bang for your
buck” using resistance based exercises. That is, using
your own bodyweight or resistance bands or weights at
the right level for You.

This is also likely to be safer for your pelvic floor
and recovery of any scar tissue. Whilst you may not
think your pelvic floor is an issue right now, you need
to think long-term.

Post-natal is for life, not just 6 weeks.

Irrespective of your delivery method, your pelvic floor
tissues will be healing and recovering for at least a
year post-birth. As you continue through your
motherhood journey, hormonal changes in peri-menopause
and beyond will again affect your pelvic floor.

Is running the best way to take care of this important
aspect of You?

When can you get back to running after having a baby?

Running will not magically make you “lose baby-weight”,
nor will it necessarily rid you of your “Mummy tummy”.
To do that you need to take care of the whole of you –
your nutrition, hydration, rest, sleep, stress and more
too.

Do what feels right for You.

Take care of You.

 

If you have any questions please do get in touch.