Having a baby is such a wonderful thing and definitely an adventure! But let’s talk today about a few things that not many people talk about – how to get back to exercise. I’ve seen so many ladies that were basically told, wait 6 weeks then you’re good. Well, what does that really mean? As you know (or maybe will know soon), your body went through a lot to have that baby and there’s a lot of trauma that occurs to the pelvic floor muscles and core muscles. Often times, it is not as easy as “wait 6 weeks then you’re good”. So here are some tips to help you and give you an idea of where to start.
Take your time. Everyone is different and everyone recovers differently. The best thing you can do is to listen to your body and take your time easing back into exercise. Sometimes there is a lot of pressure on women to get back into shape after having a baby but it is important to do what feels right to you. Start off slow and gradually increase your exercise and your intensity. There’s no “right” guideline and if you don’t feel ready, that is okay! For others, they tend to be over zealous and need to remember that it is better to go slow than jump back in and end up injured.
Find the right exercise. You may find that it is difficult to return to what you enjoyed doing such as running, right off the bat. And to be honest, it’s best to go back to the basics and get a stable core and base (see next point) before doing high intensity exercises. You will need to find an exercise that you enjoy and that feels gentle enough to you to start with. For example, maybe try walking or swimming since they are alittle easier on the body and aren’t as demanding on the core and pelvic floor. And do something you enjoy because life is too short to suffer through workouts that you can’t stand. Nowadays there are always articles on the internet such as “do this exercise to lose baby weight”, etc, etc but if you don’t enjoy it, then don’t do it. Find something that you can stick with.
Focus on your pelvic floor. Most women aren’t quite as aware of the trauma that occurs to the pelvic floor during labor. And some don’t consider it “trauma” if they didn’t tear and need stitches. However, the muscles take quite a beating with getting that baby out of there! And when women push too hard and/or too long, it can also put even more stress onto the muscles. When you have an epidural, it makes it difficult to gauge how much to push because you can’t feel anything (typically) so that sometimes puts a lot of stress onto the pelvic floor muscles. It’s important after having the baby to take care of those muscles since they can have trigger points and weakness. The best thing you can do is be evaluated by a pelvic floor physical therapist to determine the best plan for you individually. Do it sooner versus later so you don’t end up with issues down the road such as urine leakage with jumping or sneezing.
DO NOT DO CRUNCHES. I repeat, DO NOT DO CRUNCHES! This exercise is just all wrong for you. It works the superficial core muscles, not the important ones that are deeper and provide support and stability for the trunk. And it also increased the pressure inside of your abdomen, which can make issues such as incontinence and diastasis recti worse. Trust me, you don’t even want to waste your time with this one.
If you’ve recently had a baby and are in the Hales Corners, Franklin, Mukwonago, or New Berlin area and would like some individualized guidance on how you can get back into exercise, give us a call at (414) 331-2323 or email us at Brenda@revitalize-pt.com. We specialize in pregnancy and helping new moms return to activity without getting hurt.