New mothers are told that they can return to exercise after their 6-week check post baby. However, what we need to remember with all advice, including that given to you from your GP, is that there is not one size that fits all.

Firstly, everyone has a different perception of exercise… for some women it is going for a walk a few times per week and for other women it is running, or sports related (and includes sport specific training) or simply a love of a blood sweat and tears boot camp!

And secondly, what all postnatal women have in common, regardless of their current or past fitness routine, is that their bodies have changed. These changes do not miraculously disappear with the 6-week check from your GP.

So here are my 7 top tips to help you navigate your return to (low or high impact) exercise after having your baby:

  1. The rule is always slowly, carefully and mindfully!

Each and every pregnancy and postnatal period will feel different to the last and vary again between mothers. Because we all possess our own unique set of circumstances, there can never be a one size fits all. However, exercise is vital to our mental health. Getting out each day for a walk will do as much for our bodies as it will for our mental health. However, there will be some days when it may be just as beneficial to sleep when your baby does. So therefore we must carefully listen to our bodies and let that dictate whether we need to rest or exercise. Each Day and Every Day.

2. Bonding not boot camp

Marathon runners take time off after an event. And your birth (regardless whether you had a C-section or vaginal delivery) can be considered as a marathon. Immediately post birth is not the time to attempt new fitness goals. It is the time to heal and bond with your baby. Take the pressure off yourself and take advantage of opportunities to put your feet up. I promise you, your future self, will thank you for it


 3. Breastfeeding and relaxin

The hormone relaxin will still be present in your body whilst you remain breastfeeding. Relaxin is fabulous for loosening up your joints to allow the baby through the birth canal. But in activities where you are requiring a lot of stability (like exercise) it may not be as beneficial. Although I never recommend to women to stop breast-feeding until they are personally ready, it is important to understand that while you are breast-feeding, you need to be mindful of your joints to avoid injury. It’s also important to wear a good fitting sports bra.

     4. Soft tissue repair

Even if you had the easiest of vaginal births, there will still be soft tissue damage.  In comparison footballers who experience soft tissue damage are not rushed back on to the field. They are given rest and rehabilitation to enable a full recovery and ensure they can play for the whole season. To ensure the fastest recovery you need to prioritise 3 things – rest, hydration (lots of water) and a diet that is rich in good quality protein. Protein is a major building block for cell regeneration.

    5. Train to your weakest link

The word “core” is incredibly over used, especially in the fitness industry. And most people think it has to do with sit-ups and the most superficial muscles, the rectus abdominals. As a post natal woman trying to navigate the exercise world, I want you to think of pelvic floor when anyone says core. Instead of bracing your abs, start by contracting pelvic floor, from back to front and lift. You will then feel your lower abdominal contract, providing support for your lower back.

Even better, exhale on exertion and feel your pelvic floor contract with that.  This takes time and mindfulness to master, but this is training to your weakest link.

If your pelvic floor is not coping and you are experiencing leakage (urine or faecal), a heaviness in your vagina or any pain in the pelvis or lower back, then it is essential that you stop and seek help.

    6. The important role of your Women’s Health Physiotherapist

No one can accurately diagnose what is happening with your pelvic floor except those who are specifically trained to do so. Did you know that you can experience incontinence when your pelvic floor is both too tight or too weak? So if you are leaking because of a hyper tonic (too tight) pelvic floor, more pelvic floor exercises will only compound the situation. Going to a women’s health physiotherapist will ensure that you are effectively contracting your pelvic floor and give you the best recommendation for your body, as to when you can return to high impact exercise

     7. Check our trainer!

You need to choose your exercise professional carefully as the qualifications to become a Personal Trainer or Group Fitness Instructor completely omit education around the training needs of post natal women (no matter how post-natal you are).

It is simply not good enough to be a mum and a personal trainer who claims to specialise in pregnancy and postnatal women! Ask to see their qualifications in this field and enquire as to how recently they have been updated.

If your trainer does not ask questions about your pelvic floor, (eg: asking if you experience incontinence) or check to see if you have DRAM (the split of the abdominals that is common in pregnancy) then take a step back. Things have significantly changed in the last 10 years, thanks to research and science. Choose a trainer who can truly care for you.

I would love to know more about you and what you feel you need from the fitness industry? I am designing my on-line course EVEolution™ – the REVolution in women’s health and fitness and I want to hear your story.

Complete this 5-minute survey and be in to win prizes!!

First prize is a Movement and Recovery Program

(Valued at $150 – and is booked at mishfit HQ, Melbourne)

Second prize is a double CD – Active Pelvic Practice, guiding you with your pelvic floor exercises and a mishfit theraband and exercise set

(Valued at $55 and will be sent to you)

(Hyper link to survey:

Michelle Wright (Mish)(B.Ed and Dip. Teach) is the founder of mishfit. With over a decade in the fitness industry, Mish has proudly boasts a programme called EVEolution; dedicated to providing safe exercise and education to pregnant and postnatal women.

Mish regularly contributes to magazines, online sites and presents internationally on women’s health and specifically about pelvic floor.

You might also like to read:

Is your Personal Trainer harming you with exercise?

The early postnatal period – the Do’s and Don’ts of exercise

Time Poor exercises!

The benefits of Pre and Post Natal Compression Wear