Postpartum exercise is an important component for new moms to gain strength for motherhood. At FIT4MOM, we clearly support this path and want all moms to feel strong and energetic...but how much is too much? AND, when is it appropriate to begin?
This debate was sparked recently when a trainer from The Biggest Loser Australia, Michelle Bridges, posted that she was running for about an hour at 3 weeks postpartum. She further gave workout advice to other moms to that affect:
"I'm a professional trainer and have been training for 30yrs. So! For you dial this down to 15-20mins of total work". (1 min jog, 1 min walk)
Physiotherapists jumped all over this advice; not for the duration or time frame but for the intensity of running so soon after delivery. So, what is the right advice??
We know that advice in this arena can be individualized; based on the fitness history of the woman, her labor & delivery story and what her recovery looks like. For MOST women, running this soon after delivery could present some problems, specific to pelvic floor rehabilitation. According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a woman can begin exercise "...as soon as you feel ready". They add the moderate intensity is advised, "Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activities include brisk walking...For example, you could go for three 10-minute walks each day". There is no advice about running. They also state that a woman should get her physician's clearance to exercise after baby.
At FIT4MOM, we advise our moms to wait until their 6 week physician check-up before joining our classes, like Stroller Strides. We have seen over the years that if a woman comes back to physical activity too hard, too fast and/or too soon, she may find herself taking steps back in her recovery. This leads to her being out of fitness much longer than if she had just waited until she was cleared. Many women are anxious about getting in shape after having a baby. We remind them that their bodies have gone through SO much to grow human life and then they are responsible for caring for these children while still healing...and not sleeping! It's a lot! Let's all agree to have some grace with our bodies, as well as, patience and persistence.
While we applaud any trainer, like Michelle, who is empowering moms to be active and strong, let's be smart about how we do it so that moms gradually and safely find their STRENGTH FOR MOTHERHOOD.