Getting Back to Exercise After Having a Baby- by Mary Kate Ryan

 Tips for getting back to exercise After Having a Baby…

  • After pregnancy and labour women can neglect themselves as they can become consumed by the amazing yet chaotic word of a newborn baby. 
  • Juggling it all can be tough, most of the time something has to give and this tends to be time for yourself that is sacrificed.
  • Firstly don’t be too tough on your self, give your body time to heal. A woman’s body is amazing and you should be proud if it.  Growing and nurturing a baby is no easy feat!
  • My advice would be getting strong and mobile the right way, from inside out!
  • Remember that
    many of the physiological and morphological changes of pregnancy persist for four to six weeks after having your baby.
  • Thus, exercise routines should be resumed only gradually after pregnancy and should be individualized.  Physical activity can thus be resumed as soon as physically and medically safe.
  • This will certainly vary from one woman to another, with some being capable of engaging in an exercise routine earlier than others.

1. Rest

It is very important to rest to help with your recovery.

Rest on your back or side to

  • Minimize discomfort,
  • Reduce swelling
  • Take extra weight off your pelvic floor and lower abdominal muscles.

2. Pelvic Floor Exercises

  • Pelvic Floor Exercises can be safely started 1-2 days following the delivery of your baby, provided there is no increase in your pain.
  • Deep Abdominal and Pelvic Floor exercises help you return to your pre-pregnancy shape and will help with healing of stitches

Exercises to strengthen your Pelvic Floor

It is important for all women before and after birth whether they have a vaginal or cesarean delivery to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles.

1. Long Hold:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet supported but apart.
  • Squeeze and lift around all 3 openings in your pelvic
    floor. These being your back passage vagina and bladder. Like you are
    trying to stop yourself passing wind and urine.
  • Hold for 6-10 seconds, keep your abdominal, buttock and
    thigh muscles relaxed and continue to breathe
    normally.
  • Relax for 3 seconds.
  • Repeat this exercise another 5 times
  • Repeat 3 times a day.
  • As your pelvic floor muscles get stronger, practice in
    sitting and standing.
  • Gradually increase the hold time and number of repetitions until you can do a 10 second hold 10 times.

Remember…Always stop exercising when the muscle fatigues.

2. Quick holds

  • Tighten the pelvic floor muscles as above but only hold for a second before letting go fully.
  • Repeat 5 times in a row.
  • Repeat 3 times a day.
  • Gradually increase your repetitions until you can do 20
    quick squeezes in a row, it may take a few months to be able to do this.

3. Deep Abdominal Muscle Exercise

During pregnancy, as your baby grows, your abdominal muscles stretch and become weakened.

Abdominal muscles are important for back support and in maintaining good posture.

Deep Abdominal Activation

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet supported and hip distance apart.
  • Breathe in, let your tummy rise.  Breathe out; gently tighten your lower abdominal
    muscles (by 20%) by pulling your lower belly in towards your
    spine (as if getting into tight trousers).
  • Keep your upper abdominal muscles relaxed
    throughout the exercise and breathe normally
  • Hold the position for 3 seconds. Repeat 5 times, 3
    times a day.
  • As you get stronger do the exercise in sitting, all fours
    and standing and gradually increase the hold time up to 60 seconds.
  • Women who have undergone a caesarian section should follow all the above advice. However, because you have had an abdominal operation you may be more tired; do not expect too much too soon. You need to wait longer before engaging in more challenging exercises, always seek advice from your medical practitioner. There are several layers of stitches in your lower abdomen that will take time to heal so increase your activities gradually as you feel able.

4. Return to Exercise

At 6 weeks postnatal start gentle exercises:

  • Walking as pain/discomfort allows, gradually increase your distance then your speed.

  

  • Swimming when you have had 7 days in a row free from vaginal bleeding or discharge.
  • Join a Post Natal Pilates or Yoga class and progress the strengthening of your deep muscle system in a supervised, safe and guided environment. 

5. High Impact Exercise (e. g weights, jumping, running)

  • At 3-4 months post natal you should check your pelvic floor strength by; coughing with a full bladder or jumping with a full bladder before attempting high impact exercises.
  • Only begin if there is no urine leakage.
  • If you have leakage, Book an Appointment with a Women’s Health Physiotherapist for an Assessment and individualised Exercise programme.

6. Lastly Exercise should be enjoyed and help relieve stress not add to it! So choose exercise that you like and always listen to your body.

How can PH help?

Book appointment with our women’s health physiotherapist Mary-Kate to get a thorough pelvic floor assessment and specifically tailored exercise programme.

Pre and postnatal Pilates and yoga