Myths of exercise during pregnancy and postpartum

Challenging outdated norms of pregnancy and postpartum

This years International Women’s Day is all about #ChooseToChallenge, it about challenging the norms and outdated views of society.

I believe you are strong and powerful in pregnancy and that as a new mum you unearth a newfound strength in yourself and that it unlocks a whole new world of understanding what you are capable of and what your body can do!

There are so many misconceptions that get accepted as the norm in pregnancy and motherhood and I wanted to challenge some of them, as the whole list would be way too long.

  1. You shouldn’t exercise during pregnancy, you should put your feet up
  2. Pregnant women are fragile and delicate
  3. You’ll never get your ‘body back’
  4. All women can start exercising at 6 weeks postpartum, back to their normal routine
  5. You’ll never feel like yourself again

Should you exercise during pregnancy?

Misconception 1: So the old school you shouldn’t exercise during pregnancy and that you should just put your feet up. 

It’s extremely outdated and not backed by scientific research. You 100% should put your feet up and relax, but you can and should also exercise during pregnancy. It has so many benefits for you and your baby both now and in the long term. It prepares your body physically for birth and reduces pregnancy symptoms, to name a few of the benefits. 

Get the advice and support you need to feel confident and empowered to exercise safely. This is one of the reasons I created the Strong Mama Method, to make it super simple and have all of the information you need in one place. You can do this!

Pregnant women are strong and powerful

Misconception 2: Pregnant women are fragile and delicate

As a mum of one and expecting my second baby in July I couldn’t agree less! I believe pregnant women are strong and powerful, they are growing a human without even thinking about it, while doing everything else. Yes you need to be careful and reduce risks like eliminating falling from height for example and avoiding certain foods, but if you come up against a pregnant woman and say they can’t do something you just watch them, have you ever seen a determined 40 weeks pregnant women get her shoe on! It’s all about strengthening your body and maintaining fitness to allow you to do nearly everything you’d like to (pregnancy and bump allowing).

Will you get your body back post baby?

Misconception 3:

I am very passionate about this one! You won’t get your old body back, but even if you hadn’t had a baby, your body isn’t the same as it was a year or two ago, its always changing. Your body is capable of so much and it goes through the most change in the shortest amount of time during pregnancy and postpartum. 

The best thing you can do is let your body recover, then slowly help it restore and restrengthen through a specific program. You can then gradually and safely increase your workouts that are suitable for you so you get to where you want to be. This may mean more focusing on your pelvic floor to stop leaking or strengthening and healing a diastasis, whatever it is, you can do it. Exercise is the tool that allows you to be where you want to physically and it has a big impact mentally. 

So the next time this thought creeps in or someone says it to you, just remember your body is amazing, its capable of so much change and with your focus, love and time you can achieve anything you want to with it.

When can you start exercising after having a baby?

Misconception 4: All women can start exercising at 6 weeks postpartum, back to their normal routine

This is definitely not the case. As a new mum you need to give your body at least 6 weeks to make the changes and heal as it would naturally before you start exercising. But for some people this takes longer, it all depends on your pregnancy and birth and how your healing is going. If you had a c-section you should ideally wait until 12 weeks postpartum to allow healing, but this may still need longer.

There is no rush to getting back into exercise, the secret here is that you will never get those precious few weeks or months back of recovery. So be confident in yourself, listening to your body and allow yourself to take the time you need. It’s always great to see a Women’s Health Physio so they can let you know how your core and pelvic floor are, but don’t forget its not only physical its mental too. Do you have enough energy and are you in the right mind frame to start. Don’t feel pressured, do what’s right for you and follow a specific safe program designed for postnatal recovery.

Will you feel like yourself after having a baby?

Misconception 5: You’ll never feel like yourself again.

Having experienced it myself I can honestly say it takes time to feel like you again. But I think this is down to the fact that your body is flooding in and out with hormones and sleep has a huge factor to play in how you feel mentally.

It’s so helpful to understand how your mind works and this is an important part in our Strong Mama Method. After you birth your baby, you as a mum are also born, there are so many changes and shifts. So I promise once the blur and fog of the fourth trimester is cleared and your little one sleeps for longer you will feel more like you again.

 It’s great to put into your postnatal plan what you enjoy and what you find relaxing, as it can be hard to remember when you grab a free hour. But by doing these things you connect back to yourself. You were you before you became a mum, don’t lose that part of you. It takes work but you can do it!

Lucy is a pre & postnatal corrective exercise specialist and mum. She is on a mission to empower, educate and inspire women during pregnancy and motherhood to feel fit, healthy and body confident.

Do you want to receive weekly fitness empowerment and inspiration to your inbox mama? Join our free newsletter!