New mum Serena Williams will be returning to tennis for the 2018 Australian Open – but that doesn’t mean other new mums should feel pressured to do the same.
Tennis legend Williams gave birth to her first child, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr, in September and she hasn’t competed since winning her 23rd Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open in 2017.
But experts warn while Williams’ achievement is impressive – it’s not something new mum’s should feel the need to strive for.
“Being a professional athlete she has been very stringently supervised throughout her pregnancy,” Dr Melanie Hayman, a physical activity researched from CQ University explained.
“She’s also very well-conditioned meaning she was more physically prepared and physically able throughout her pregnancy.
“That’s not to say that other women can’t do that – but if we’re talking about the average Jo we know that the majority of pregnant women aren’t actually exercising in accordance with physical activity guidelines in Australia.”
Dr Hayman suggested most mums can return to light exercise at around the three to four month mark – but said there were no rules.
“Most of the time it really depends – there’s no generic prescription when it comes to returning to exercise postpartum.”
She reminded mothers Williams is an athlete and it was her job to be in peak physical condition.
“She wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t safe.”
She said the more physically fit a mother is before and during pregnancy – the more quickly she will be able to return to exercise.
“Listen to professionals, listen to your body. We don’t need to be hitting the gym. Exercise is good for self-confidence and self-worth - it can be as easy as putting bub in a pram and going for a walk around the block.
“We always say, it takes 9 months to put the baby weight on, give yourself nine to twelve months to get it off.
“It’s not about the weight. You’ll lose the weight – it’s about finding that healthy balance.”