Welcome to motherhood!
We know that you are itching to get that baby weight off but it’s important to start exercise after pregnancy slowly and follow the recommendations to keep your body safe.
There are many factors that will determine when it is safe to return to exercise after having your baby. If you had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, and are not experiencing any leaking, you can begin slow and gentle walking from 2 weeks post-partum. Start with a 15mins walk around the block, and gradually increase this.
If you have had a cesarean delivery, required an episiotomy or are experiencing moderate to heavy urinary incontinence, you may start some light walking when you feel ready. This may be around 2 weeks post delivery or even later. Don’t rush in to it, or feel you should start sooner than you feel ready. Ensure your pram is light and caring just the bare essentials to avoid feeling like you are pushing or exerting yourself. Start with a 5 minute walk and build form there. Avoid any strenuous activity that is going to put pressure on your incision, tummy muscles or makes you feel like you are bearing down.
No matter your delivery type or your recovery, it is highly recommended you wait until your 6 week postnatal check with your obstetrician or GP before commencing more strenuous post pregnancy exercises (eg pregnancy Pilates, swimming, gentle weights etc).
Pelvic Floor Exercises – Yikes! I have leaking, what do I do?
Many women will experience some minor urinary leakage when returning to exercise after giving birth. This is completely normal. It takes time for your muscles to recover, retrain them and improve their strength.
Something that all women can do soon after birth is beginning some gentle pelvic floor exercises. Laying on your back, with your knees bent and feet on the floor (see image), imagine like you are gently stopping yourself mid-stream from passing urine. Hold that for 5 seconds, then relax and repeat for 10 rounds. If you cannot hold it, that is okay. Try engaging and then releasing 10 times, without holding.
Abdominal Separation – can I still exercise with it?
Experiencing abdominal separation after pregnancy is perfectly normal, but it’s important to get it checked (yes, even it has been quickly checked when you were in hospital). There are precautions to take if your separation is bigger than 2cm – speak with your Maternal Health Physio about these. You don’t have to wait until your OB appointment to get this checked.
Once you have had your 6 week postnatal check up and have been cleared to exercise by your OB, as much as you want to jump straight into it, don’t! It is great to join a Mums & Bubs Pilates class which is instructed by a qualified physio or trainer to guide you through safe exercises to help rebuild strength, especially to your tummy muscles, pelvic floor and core.
Remember, your body has been through a HUGE change – pregnancy, labour, birth and now motherhood. Be kind to yourself. Exercise after pregnancy will help boost your mood, but take it slow and listen to your body.