Dossier: Sport after childbirth

Is postnatal exercise a good idea?

Katharina Gundermann, a personal trainer for women, is certain that postnatal exercise isn’t just a fad. She believes it’s important for preventing future problems and strengthening muscles softened during pregnancy and birth.

Text: Clau Isenring

Is postnatal exercise a passing trend?

No, it’s important and necessary to prevent problems such as incontinence in the future. However, it’s important that women choose a course run by a specialist with the relevant training, because there are a lot of trendy programmes on offer at the moment that might sound fun, but in fact deliver few benefits and can even be harmful.

When should women start postnatal exercise?

It depends on the woman and whether she had a caesarean section or a natural birth. However, it is a good idea to rest for at least the first few days after birth. The body has worked extremely hard and the hormonal changes are also physically demanding. In general, women tend to start postnatal exercises around six weeks after the birth.

What’s the focus of postnatal exercise?

The first step is to make women aware of their own bodies before starting targeted strengthening exercises. Many women don’t really know what the pelvic floor is or what exactly they should be tightening. In some cases, the whole pelvic region is a bit of a mystery.

“Nine months on, nine months off.”
Katharina Gundermann

How often should women do postnatal exercise?

According to training theory, three times a week for around 30 minutes each time produces the best results. However, that’s unrealistic for most women. In my experience, most women manage one instructor-led training session a week plus one session at home. In the beginning, the instructor-led training alone is enough. It’s important to remember that Hollywood stars and top models shouldn’t be seen as role models. The goal of postnatal exercise isn’t to lose weight as quickly as possible, but to stay healthy and strong in the long term.

How long should a woman continue postnatal exercise classes?

The rule of thumb is: “Nine months on, nine months off.” This means, depending on the woman’s level of fitness, that it can take between six and twelve months to achieve the same physical condition as before the pregnancy through postnatal exercise.

Katharina Gundermann

Personal trainer for women