E tūtaki ana ngā kapua o te rangi, kei runga, kei runga te Mangoroa e kōpae pū ana | The clouds in the sky close over, but above them spreads the milky way

Return to exercise safely postpartum with She Moves fitness collective.

Postpartum women are at increased risk of developing depression, which can contribute to the ill health of the mother and her family. Research indicates that mothers who are physically active experience lower levels of depression or anxiety symptoms than inactive mothers. Many mothers can also avoid commencing any exercise as they are concerned about doing it safely.


Announcing our partnership with She Moves, PADA is thrilled to receive a cash sponsorship. She Moves will be offering membership giveaways through our social media channels throughout the year and presenting at our seminars on the benefits exercise has on our mental health. They will also be hosting two live Facebook chats on our page about the safe return to exercise for postpartum women, a live workout for people to try, and, partnering with us for our virtual fundraising event “Choose to Move’ which is going to be held in Perinatal Mental Health Awareness Week 1st to 7th May 2022.


Exercise and postnatal depression


She Moves are Renee Norman and Jenna Smith, two māmā who recognise that movement is key to improving physical and mental health and wellbeing.


Renee shared her struggles of finding herself in a dark place during the first year of motherhood, while not being diagnosed with postnatal depression, reflected that she was in a pretty dark place.

“I remember feeling so overwhelmed at doing the most simple daily tasks. Going to the supermarket or to a doctors appointment would send me into a real panic. I didn’t go anywhere that I didn’t need to go, the thought of a coffee or play group was my worst nightmare because my baby was always crying. I was waking up some days feeling like I couldn’t do this anymore. Writing this I have tears in my eyes because even though having Addi was the BEST thing that had ever happened to me, it was also the hardest year of my life.
Exercise was my coping mechanism, some days it was the last thing that I wanted to do but even after a quick walk around the block or a quick session in the lounge with the music BLASTING in my ears I would always feel a bit better. A little more energy, a little stronger, a little happier and it would give me that feeling of “I can keep going… I can do this”.”

Get your body back after baby – the wrong message

Renee and Jenna heard so many ‘heartbreaking’ stories of women who had thrown themselves back into exercise postpartum with high intensity exercise such as, running, burpees, crunches and planks, without realising the serious damage it could do to their bodies, adding to an already distressed state of mind. This comes from the pressure targetting mums to ‘lose the baby weight’ and ‘get your body back’. They go into detail in this NZ Herald article here.

She Moves create safe, effective workouts, based on the latest research, because they are proud to be qualified, keep up to date with fitness, health and wellbeing best practice, take an evidence based approach and embrace a growth mindset. You know you are in safe hands with She Moves.

postpartum exercise

Dangers of exercise after having a baby

Pregnancy hormones can affect your joints and ligaments for up to 6 months after the birth, putting you at greater risk of injury. Physical problems after labour and birth can be back pain, a leaky bladder and more from a loose pelvic floor, the muscles and ligaments that support the bladder, uterus and bowel, which untreated can lead to a higher chance of prolapse. This doesn’t even go into the damage that can happen if you have had a c-section or suffered any kind of birth trauma.

They also advise women to be checked by a Women’s Health Physiotherapist before starting exercise after birth, and investing in your body before creating any problems, and their classes are designed to ease new mothers back into exercise in a safe way.

Women may feel they are in a rush to get back to great health immediately after birth, and are often recommended to do so by health professionals without arming women with the information about how to do this safely. All women face different challenges on their postpartum journeys, so it is important not to compare yourself to another māmā, every body is different and unique.


Read more from She Moves about how to return to exercise postpartum. They will be doing two Facebook Live chats on our page in the coming months – subscribe to our newsletter to get details of these to your inbox.

exercise postpartum

See here for information on doing physical activity during pregnancy.

Note: The language used here refers to women, but this information is relevant for all people who have given birth.