Exercise after childbirth
If you want to start exercising again from your 4th trimester and onwards, but are unsure if it's safe, this blog is here to help you!
You can go for walks, and perform pelvic floor exercises and light stretches as soon as you feel comfortable. Don't worry if you still can't control your pelvic floors, you'll know when you're ready to try them again once you've healed enough.
1. Pelvic floor exercises
Let’s begin with pelvic floor exercises. These muscles experience a lot of stress both during pregnancy and during delivery. These types of exercises can help to strengthen the muscles in the pelvic floor.
You may find that when you cough, sneeze, or strain, a little pee might come out if your pelvic floor muscles are weak. This is called "stress incontinence," and you may have heard from your other mum friends that it's very common after having your baby.
You can work out your pelvic floor muscles while you're lying down, sitting, or standing. After doing these exercises for a while, you'll be able to do them anywhere. You'll soon be able to do them on the bus, in a meeting, or while waiting in line for a coffee!
Here's how they work:
First, squeeze and pull in your back passage as if you were holding in wind.
Squeeze as if you were going to the bathroom.
Now relax. This squeeze is short. Rest for a second, and then do it again until your muscles feel tired.
After a short break, squeeze like you did before. This time, squeeze as hard as you can for up to 10 seconds, and then let go.
During these exercises, it's important to keep breathing normally. Make sure you don't squeeze your buttocks or pull your stomach in.
Aim to do each exercise four to six times a day until you can do it 10 times.
2. Abdominal muscle separation
The two muscles (rectus abdominis) that run along the centre of the abdomen frequently separate during pregnancy. How far apart they are depends on the woman.
Your growing womb is pulling these muscles apart as it grows, which makes the muscles in your stomach longer and weaker.
If you would like to figure out how far apart you are after having your little one, follow these steps:
Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
Raise your shoulders a little bit off the ground and look at your tummy.
Feel between the edges of the muscles above and below your belly button with your fingertips. Check how many fingers you can fit between your muscles when they are apart.
Check this often to see if the gap is getting smaller.
If you go to a pilates or yoga class after giving birth, a trained teacher might also be able to help you check your separation.
By the time your little one is eight weeks old, most of your muscles will be back to normal. If the gap is still visible, you may be putting your back at risk. So talk to your doctor, and they can put you in touch with a physiotherapist.
Swimming is a great way to get fit! It's easy on your body and gives you time to relax. You can hop (or maybe take a few cautious steps) into the pool seven days after your postpartum bleeding (lochia) has stopped.
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