Wondering how to get back into fitness after giving birth? Annie Francis, Chief Executive at Neighbourhood Midwives, shares 8 sure-fire tips to help you get back into shape safely – no matter what your starting fitness level may be!

As a private service, the Neighbourhood Midwives are able to prepare our clients both antenatally and postnatally. After the birth we will visit them for 6 weeks, so physical recovery and exercise can be an integral part of our care.

Here’s what we recommend to our mums to help them how to get back into fitness after giving birth:

1. It is never too early to start. Gentle exercise involving lying flat with raised knees and then slowly inflating and deflating the lower abdomen will start to encourage a feeling of recovery. As the belly is deflated and the umbilicus pulled down, the pelvic floor is also pulled up creating a strong girdle.

2. Rest and lie down every day and avoid lifting and twisting.

3. In the second week begin working the oblique muscles by extending one leg and the opposite arm whilst remaining lying down position with knees bent.

4. Start to build in daily walks.

5. After 4 weeks begin a much deeper exercise which involves imagining pulling your ribs down to meet your hips but without actually moving, again, in the lying down, knees bent position.
6. Ask your midwife or physio to show you how to monitor and assess the closure of the rectus abdominus (the abdominal muscles that separate during pregnancy) so that you can assess your progress.

7. Continue walking, cycling, swimming and dancing until you feel confident that you have sufficient core strength to take up further exercise.

8. Finally remember that your ribs expand in pregnancy and it is this which often affects our actual waistline. Stand tall with your hands on your lower ribs. Breathe in and feel the ribs expand then as you exhale try to pull the lower ribs in.