22 May Safe Post-Natal Exercise
by Catherine Willis
Just had a baby? Wondering what the right exercise is? When is the right time? And should it be with the right person?
Physiotherapists are the right kind of professional to help you plan your postnatal recovery. We study for years at university – anatomy, muscle cells, how they respond to load (ie exercise), different medical conditions that can weaken muscles, injuries, nerves.
Many sources acknowledge that pelvic floor exercises done correctly are vital for postnatal recovery – bladder control, core stability, bowel function, and providing a supportive base for pelvic organs to rest above. But pelvic floor exercises need to be taught correctly – breathing, coordination, numbers, relaxation, progression, functionality. And they are more effective if you are reminded regularly, and your technique is reviewed
But it’s not all about the pelvic floor muscles after having a baby – there are ligaments that hold our bladder, uterus and bowel in place as well. We can’t “exercise” the ligaments, so how long will it take for them to return to “normal.”
During pregnancy hormonal changes tend to make the support ligaments softer, stretchier. Just as some people have more flexible hamstrings or joints, some women will feel more of an effect from the softer ligaments.
Other factors like the way you gave birth, your past history of sport or exercise, heavy lifting, straining, coughing, and being overweight can limit the support these ligaments give. It’s impossible to tell by looking at someone how supportive their muscles and ligaments are. So is it safe for you to return to high intensity/impact training after having your baby?
When can you start running again?
What are the warning signs that you have done too much, too early?
And how can you be guaranteed that the exercise you are now doing is not causing harm?
A women’s health physiotherapist can assess your pelvic floor muscles and the potential support of the ligaments.
A women’s health physiotherapist can progress your exercises safely, and provide further guidance if your muscles aren’t responding.
A women’s health physiotherapist can help you regain your muscle function, so that you’re ready for another pregnancy, another birth, another baby in the future.
Because it’s not all about what you look like on the outside.