Women who participate in physical activity after pregnancy experience many benefits. Whilst there are many challenges that come with exercising after giving birth to your baby, the benefits to your physical, emotional, mental and social health cannot be understated.
Participating in a structured and personalised exercise program can promote and restore muscle strength, increase energy levels, assists with weight loss, improve cardiovascular fitness and specific exercises can also help strengthen your abdominal muscles.
Exercise has also been shown to improve your mood, relieve stress and assists prevent postpartum depression.
Being a mum of three children who are very close in age (and a single mother at that) I understand the needs and the importance of exercise postpartum. Six weeks after giving birth we are told that we are able to get back to exercising. However, I find a lot of us either
- don’t know how we should be exercising in the first place and
- none of us actually take into any consideration how we’re feeling before we are told that we should be exercising.
Well, as an allied health practitioner I always tell my mothers whether they are a first time mum or a mother who has just had their third baby that you need to come back to exercise when you are feeling ready.
Feeling ready means that you are getting a relatively good amount of sleep up to 4 hours unbroken overnight, that you feel good enough within yourself to leave your baby with either your partner, family member or friend. Lastly, that you feel like your body is ready to progressively move and get back into an exercise regime.
Whether you are a mother that has exercised throughout her whole pregnancy or you are a mother that hasn’t exercised at all I would strongly recommend that you see a healthcare professional that has specific training in postnatal exercise.
I’ve definitely heard some horror stories of mothers who go back to exercise and haven’t been pre-screened, haven’t been asked the more private questions such as: how are you feeling about pelvic floor, is pelvic floor leaking when you walk or sneeze.
Do you feel any pain or discomfort during sex? These are all relevant and important questions that need to be answered before an exercise program is written up for you.
By all means, NO burpees or jump squats should be recommended to a new mother. After pregnancy and birth, your pelvic floor muscles can be stretched and weakened.
If you don’t look after and train those muscles once again to become strong you may be at increased risk of developing a prolapse. This can be the case for both mothers who have a caesarean section or a normal vagina birth. Statistics are higher for prolapse from those who have a vagina birth
Why Burpee’s and jump squats are so unsuitable for a mother that has given birth – is that that extra pressure and force places undue stress on muscles that are already weekend and thus further decreases the strength and function of that group of muscles which can lead to further conditions.
You may feel fine on the outside, but you are unable to see what is occurring on the inside. This is why some women may not notice a prolapse occurring until they return to exercise and unaware that there is a risk of this is happening.
According to the continents guidelines, after having a baby no matter how fit or toned you are, it takes a minimum of eight weeks before your abdominal muscles are toned enough to support your lower back and pelvis.
This means that if you return to running, sport or high impact exercise too soon, there is a lot more movement in your lower back and pelvis then there should be. There is no way that your abdomen muscles can go from being overstretched during 9 months of pregnancy to being shortened and firmed enough to provide good support for your back and pelvis without the same time.
Steady progression of postnatal abdominal and pelvic floor exercises are important to improve the strength and tone in these muscles. Protecting your pelvic floor first as you really build your deep and lower abdominal muscles will allow you to return to sport or more intense forms of physical exercise without complications.
If you would like any further guidance on which exercises are beneficial to start with or you would like to know more about your body after having a baby please revert back to our resources page for more information revitalizexpp.com.au/resources/