Postpartum fitness Journey

4th trimester and onwards – Slowly getting back into fitness

February 2nd 2019 Rupert finally made his entrance to the world two weeks late. I can’t believe how much he has changed since this photo. He is a happy and smiley boy we are very lucky and totally in love! We have decided not to post any facial photos of Rupert (apart this initial one) on social media.


The first five weeks I just rested and healed. I did go on lots of short walks but nothing strenuous. I really didn’t have any desire to train nor is it advised! The first few weeks feel like a blur of sleep deviation, sore nipples, haemorrhoids, naps, breastfeeding and visitors. I went out for a walk most days with Rupert in the carrier, just to get out due to cabin fever.

When I was pregnant I saw on Joe Wick’s instagram AKA the body coach a post on Carifit workout. Carifit is a baby wearing workout, designed to reintroduce exercise postnatally and get closer to your baby whilst working out. It’s to be used from when the baby is six weeks old and up to eighteen months. By using the baby weight, light weights and intervals to get fitter and stronger. I tried the three taster sessions with the body coach and Carifit founder Vern Hill. I really enjoyed them and it also helped Rupert sleep during the day (baby wearing is a miracle worker).

A couple of weeks later after doing the tasters a few times I took the plunge and bought the six months membership plan. You can also do live classes with Vern and other instructors but the commute to London from Galashiels seems a bit far. You can opt for two to four sessions a week. I chose four and I’m sticking to them most weeks. The classes aren’t more than thirty minutes so fairly easy to fit in the day. I’ve found most of the classes focus on lower body so lots of squats and lunges with some upper body included with additional core workouts as well. I enjoy being able to workout at home, no babysitter required and can be done at my convenience at any time in the day. Rupert seems to enjoy it as he’s sleepy usually within minutes of starting so when he’s been really unsettled I’ve done extra workouts.

A couple of weeks ago I was in London for a wedding. I booked myself onto one of the Carifit Live classes and got to meet Vern in the flesh! I was excited to see him as he is regularly on the screen at home. I found the class much harder than at home workouts and the other ladies very welcoming. I really enjoyed being in a class, since Rupert my exercising has mainly been in the garage at home. Group exercise does really motivate me more and peer pressure encourages me to lower my squats. If I lived in London I would definitely be attending the classes and highly recommend them as well as the online subscription.

Alongside Carifit workouts I started swimming again at from five weeks postpartum. It felt good to be back in the pool and in a normal swimming costume again. I was quite surprised how quickly my times improved but it’s likely because I’m a little more aerodynamic without the pregnancy bump. My Tumble-turns have been much easier! The only problem with swimming is that is led by my local swimming pool public swim timetable, breastfeeding and when someone is available to look after Rue. This isn’t a great mix, I usually manage once a week or don’t. In May I only went once the entire month! Hopefully things will get easier when he starts eating solids. My current aim is to be more consistent and try at least swim once a week and hopefully soon get in open water now that it’s summer.

At six weeks postpartum I started running again……. well briefly. Since Rue’s birth the pain in my symphysis pubis had eased so I thought I would slowly reintroduce running again. I started with walk \ run for a short distance and then gradually built up running for longer and walking less. I had a little mild pain at the end of some of the runs but it eased straight after. I left at least 1-2days between runs. It felt so good to be running again after six months off, even though I was much slower and my legs felt like lead. Two weeks after I started running I went for a continuous 5km run, big mistake! The last kilometre I had the same pelvic pain pre birth and after the run it didn’t go away for 24 hours. I stopped running and referred myself to women’s health physiotherapist. Maybe I pushed myself too quickly? Maybe I started running again too quickly? I don’t know but I didn’t want to make it any worst.

When I got assessed by the therapist at 15 weeks postpartum she was happy my pelvis was inline correctly, my posture was good and I had minimal abdominal separation (Diastasis Recti). Just that it’s going to take time for my ligaments to readjust and time to recover from pregnancy and delivery. She noted that my upper abdominal muscles were much stronger than my lower and I had tight hip flexors. She stated just recently new guidelines of postnatal running advises now to wait a minimum of twelve weeks for impact exercises or sports after birth. Low impact was fine to start earlier eg walking, swimming, light weights. I was given exercises including; pelvic floor exercises, lower abdominal exercises and stretches.
No running yet but to continue the low impact exercises I’m doing currently and the physio exercises. I was to see her again in a month. She also stated that hopefully I should be able to do the great north run in September and set that as my goal.

A comprehensive postnatal return to running for clinicians guide was published in March 2019 with a guide of exercise progression in the weeks post birth. It’s very informative and I would recommend my colleagues (midwives and doctors) to read as well as mums to be. Link below.

At my following appointment at 20 weeks postpartum she was pleased with my progress, my lower abdominals were stronger and engaging more, my hip flexors were less tight but a work in progress and I felt my pelvic floor was much stronger. She has given me the green light to run again. She has instructed me to do the NHS couch to 5K app. This plan involves three runs a week, with a day rest in between that takes nine week to builds up to 5 kilometres of continuous running. My physiotherapist Gill was happy for me to skip some weeks if it’s very easy but it should take a minimal of 6 weeks to complete. If I have any pains or concerns to repeat the same week and to see her again in a month. I’m really excited but also nervous hopefully my running will be more successful this time round. I will be keeping a diary of my runs to see how I’m getting on.

At eight weeks postpartum I started cycling again, indoor on the turbo trainer. I hadn’t been on a bike since June last year. I’m currently cycling on my husbands bike as he’s “borrowing” my power meter and speedometer so it’s all set up. We are both the same height so our bike set up is pretty similar. I’m just missing my comfortable long distance bike seat. When I start training for a race again I will set myself properly on my own bike. I’m only doing short sessions at the moment.

I used to hate being on the turbo trainer but now I love it. Firstly I have a power meter so I know my output and can set up a workout to that. (I got the power meter last year for my birthday). Secondly we have a better set up, TV and iPad holder, no more using the ironing board! Thirdly it’s just so convenient. Rupert usually has one to two naps a day. I can watch him on the baby monitor as I work out, no need for babysitter and if he wakes up I’m there in seconds.

The turbo trainer is my main source for exercise now, I usually train three to five times a week. Most of the sessions are short only thirty to fourth minutes long. For this reason I do sprints or high intensity as it’s better at fat burning and more advantageous for the time I’ve got. I do at least one hour long spin once a week and that’s usually when my husband is at home. I’ve got quite motivated to pushing myself on the sprints to see how high I can get my watts and then overall throughout the session. I’m not following any plan or have a coach. I’m just being flexible for Rupert and taking on knowledge from training previously. I tend to do one session short sprints all out and the following session keeping a certain wattage for a longer period of time. Mixing it up also makes it more fun and having a plan of what the session is encourages me to finish it.

Working out around Rupert can be hard sometimes and some days it’s just not possible. I’m very lucky to have a supportive partner and family helping me to exercise between feeds where possible. I’ve found the tiredness the hardest barrier, if I’ve not slept well the previous night I prioritised daytime naps rather than exercise.

I decided not to enter any races this year.. I enter the ballot each year for The Great North run, previously I’ve never got entry and typically this year I have! At the moment it seems unlikely I will compete. I need to see how my running goes. I hope to get back to racing next year.

Five months on after delivery, I’m regularly exercising again which is great. I’m looking forward to reintroducing running again and that’s my main aim at the moment. Late summer I hope to get outdoors on the bike before winter.