That is how one can get again to operating after being pregnant
Whether you're through a pregnancy or need some time off, resuming running after having a baby can feel like starting all over again. We talk to prenatal and postnatal specialist Nicole Chapman to find out how to get back into our running routine in a gentle and enjoyable way
First things first, are you ready to start running again? If you are going to return to an exercise after giving birth, it is important that your GP has approved it. Once you have your thumbs up, we can begin to specifically prepare our bodies for running.
Prepare for the run
Running is a high impact activity, so it is important that you do the groundwork before you lace up. This means that working on your pelvic floor is a priority. Your pelvic floor weakens during pregnancy, and if you don't take the time to heal and strengthen it, it can lead to a whole host of problems, including pain, incontinence problems, and injury.
I recommend attending a women's physiotherapy center from around 6 weeks after the birth. For my clients, I spend 6 weeks rehabilitating the pelvic floor and rebuilding a strong core, buttocks and hips to ensure pelvic stability.
Take the first steps
It's important to build up slowly when you get back to running. You might want to get back to basics and start with a couch up to 5K. Those first few runs in particular will feel tough – I often hear the phrase "like running through syrup". Don't let this discourage you – it's normal! Be sure to warm up with dynamic stretches and cool down with static stretches.
Strength is the key
Strength training is important in addition to running. It supports your muscles and joints, which not only improves your running speed and efficiency, but also reduces the risk of injury. I created a 6 week program, Power of Mum, to build strength, improve fitness, and help women achieve their running goals after giving birth.
Breastfeeding and Running
When you're breastfeeding or expressing, staying hydrated is even more important than usual, and you may want to express before running for added comfort. I would also recommend investing in a good high impact sports bra to reduce chest movement. If you are breastfeeding your baby immediately after exercising, it is a good idea to wipe the sweat off your chest so that your baby is not put off when it is put on.
Go to yourself
If you were an active runner before birth, you can understandably feel trapped and less like your old self during these early months. It is important that, with a little time, patience and a rethink, you can be just as fit and strong as you were before pregnancy – maybe even more -. As a mom, you undoubtedly have less time, so try not to be too strict with exercise plans or schedules – it's important to take the windows off when they come up for you. Also, listen to your body and take extra days of rest if necessary.
Set yourself a realistic challenge
As you start running again and settle into your new routine, a realistic challenge can be a great way to motivate yourself and show how far you've come. Choose something with a time frame that takes into account the weeks that don't go according to plan. At this stage, try not to compare your times with pre-pregnancy races. I signed up for the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October and worked hard to let go of my ego before giving birth so I can enjoy running it and creating new postpartum PBs. Don't forget to celebrate these new milestones along the way!
About the author
Nicole Chapman is a fully qualified personal trainer and specialist in prenatal and postnatal fitness. To learn more about Nicole's online strength and high-intensity cardio programs for all skill levels, visit www.nicolechapman.com or follow her on Instagram: @iamnicolechapman