Sleepless nights, weight gain and lack of exercise can leave new mums feeling physically wrecked.
But, just weeks after the London Marathon showed how much so many people get out of running, marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe – a new mum herself – has raced in to help other women get back into shape.
She’s hoping that her tips will encourage them to take part in this year’s Cancer Research UK and Tesco Race for Life. Paula is an ambassador for the women-only 5k and 10k event – which takes place in Portsmouth on Sunday July 24.
She gave birth to her second child, Raphael, in September and started exercising again just a week afterwards.
The 37-year-old also has daughter Isla, four, and adds: ‘Exercising after childbirth is great for your wellbeing, and I’m glad I exercised during pregnancy too.
‘There are lots of myths out there about not doing exercise but if you do it at an appropriate level for your body, it’s beneficial.’
For those new mums who’d like to give the Race for Life a try themselves, Paula says the race is a lot of fun and geared towards all fitness levels: ‘You can walk, jog or run,’ she explains.
Paula gives these training tips for new mums who want to try running:
:: Give yourself time to recover and enjoy spending bonding time with your baby. Don’t feel pressured to exercise before you’re ready, and listen to your body.
:: Ease yourself back into exercise gently. If you rush too soon it’ll catch up with you later.
Remember, if in doubt you should consult your doctor, midwife or health visitor who will be able to advise you on how to get back into exercising sensibly.
:: Start pelvic floor muscle exercises in the first few days post-partum.
To practise pelvic floor exercises imagine that you need to stop yourself from going for a wee, pull the muscles up and in. Hold the position for five counts, then release back to the starting position.
:: Start with low-impact exercise such as walking round the garden or local park before gradually building back to running.
It’s supposed to take up to four months for your ligaments to regain their usual tension and strength, and until they do this, your joints will take more of the impact.
:: Keep well hydrated, especially if you’re breastfeeding and wear a decent bra even if you’re not.
:: Your posture is important when exercising, especially post-pregnancy, as your abdominal muscles will be stretched and impact on the stability of the spine.
:: Don’t be too hard on yourself if your exercise plans go awry – anything you do to keep your body moving will help.
To enter this year’s Race for Life, visit raceforlife.org.