Many women after giving birth wonder when it is appropriate to begin exercising, but the answer varies depending on the individual’s circumstances. There are many factors to take into account such as a mother’s fitness level before and during pregnancy, how the delivery went and whether there were any complications, and what she considers ‘exercise’ to be.
General advice states to wait between six to eight weeks (longer if you’ve had a caesarean) – by which time you should have had your post-natal check – or have had seven days without any post-natal bleeding or discharge. This, however, is probably more pertinent to high impact exercise like running, aerobics or Zumba, whereas some form of gentle movement might actually go a long way towards helping the healing process and getting you strong and well as soon as possible.
The ‘kegel’ exercise (pelvic floor contraction) which is so strongly prescribed to women during and after pregnancy and for pelvic floor dysfunction is not, in my humble opinion, appropriate in isolation. Whilst it can be beneficial to include some pelvic floor exercises to your movement plan in order to check that you are able to contract the muscle tissue volitionally, I believe a whole body approach is more appropriate: the pelvic floor works in conjunction with the rest of your body and having functional length and strength in all your muscles is the best way to make sure that muscle tissue stays happy and healthy.
If you have been diagnosed with diastasis recti (abdominal separation) you might be anxious to rectify the situation and ensure that the movement you’re undertaking is safe and appropriate. It’s a condition that many women experience during pregnancy, and can often be linked to pelvic floor dysfunction. Prevention is of course the best cure and my preference would be to work with someone before and during pregnancy to ensure their core is best prepared for the loads it’s about to experience, but I would still prescribe the same exercises to regain core strength to anyone who has been diagnosed with abdominal separation. Rather than crunches or planks, I would again take a whole body approach and adjust alignment and lifestyle habits as well as giving corrective exercises to help rib placement, shoulder and hip strength and overall mobility.
For anyone diagnosed with pelvic prolapse it’s important to check whether it’s stage 2 or more severe (the range is 0-4 with 0 being no prolapse and 4 being a complete prolapse). In this instance it is essential to see a women’s health physio regularly to ensure that it’s safe to exercise before undertaking any kind of exercise regime.
If you’ve had complications or feel in doubt at all that it’s safe for you to resume regular exercise after pregnancy, then it is advised that we organise a one to one consultation in order to address your personal issues and concerns directly and tailor a routine that is right for you and your own circumstances.
If you do, however, feel that you’re ready to start regular exercise again and feel generally fit and healthy, then our classes are limited to just 6 people per class, allowing us to have individual time with each participant during each class, allowing for individual correction and adjustment.
Get in touch here and let me know if I can be of assistance!