Congratulations! You have survived pregnancy and birth and the first few weeks or months of parenthood. If you’ve now managed to get through feeling like you’re a walking zombie on a different planet, then you may be starting to think about exercising again.

Although your mind may be keen to get going to shed those pounds and tone those muscles as quickly as possible, your body has other ideas. It is really important that you get back into exercise gently and ensure you do the correct exercises for your post natal level.

Your body has gone through a tremendous amount of effort and has changed in more ways than one. Some of these changes will return gradually, but others may be permanent and therefore your body needs time to adjust in how to function again in this new state. You won’t even be aware of all these changes, which is why it is important to take it slowly.

The relaxin hormone will remain in your system for some time after the birth, especially if you choose to breastfeed, so there should not be any jerky movements or exercises involving heavy lifting as this can actually damage the ligaments in your joints due to them being softer. This is also true for stretching, so postnatal stretches after any exercise, should only be held for approximately 10 seconds, so not to over-stretch the joints.

Before embarking on any exercise after having a baby, you must check with your doctor that you are safe to do so. But once you’re ready to go, you can start with gentle walking with your pushchair and enjoy the great outdoors and the smiles of your baby as they notice a tree or a bird for the first time. Slowly build it up by introducing some gentle muscle toning work, which can be done in your own home or in your local park area, with for example, some basic squats. Once your baby is a few months old and you feel ready, you can start doing more high intense workouts, like jogging and exercises that involve jumping… but of course this is where the benefits of the daily pelvic floor exercises come into play!

Your body has taken a long journey to grow, home and birth your baby. Appreciate what it has done and give it the time and nurture it needs to regain strength and stability. Don’t rush it… practice that patience you’ve had to learn from being a mother. And remember, that although you may be desperate to get back that pre-pregnancy shape, you have to take baby steps.