Did you know that movement and exercise after having a baby is a specialised area of physiotherapy? Our women’s health physio Jess has some answers to your burning questions about returning safely to exercise.
How long do I need to wait before returning to exercise after having a baby?
Because of the significant changes your body has undergone through pregnancy and birth it’s important to have a 6 week postnatal check by a qualified women’s health physio before returning to exercise. This check will assess:
· Pelvic floor contraction via real time ultrasound
· Muscle strength and pelvic organ prolapse are checked via internal assessment
Do I still need my pelvic floor assessed if I had a caesarean?
YES! The weight of pregnancy puts the pelvic floor under pressure and without a pelvic floor assessment there is no guarantee you’re activating the muscles correctly.
When is it safe to return to sit ups and abdominal exercises after having a baby?
During the postnatal review your physio will check the gap in your tummy muscles (rectus abdominis diastasis).
It is very normal to have a 1-1.5 finger gap, if it is greater than two fingers and there is abdominal doming on chest lift abdominal exercises would have to be modified.
Your physio will be able to show you the safe abdominal exercises to start with.
HOWEVER! If you have had a caesarean it’s recommended you refrain from abdominal exercises for at least two months.
When can I return to more high impact exercise such as running after having a baby?
There is no specific answer to this, and it depends on the following:
· Whether you have optimal pelvic floor elevation/strength/endurance/tone
· If there is no pain or urinary leakage with jumping and running
· Your ability to do a pelvic floor stress test (10 big jumps and 5 coughs with a full bladder without leaking urine or having the feeling of imminent leakage)
Other things to consider before returning to running or high impact exercise are:
· Global strength of muscle groups, in particularly glutes, hamstrings, calves and joints
· The effect of breastfeeding
When is it safe to return to gym classes and normal Pilates classes?
We highly recommend you return to specific postnatal classes to begin with. At Eric St Physio the postnatal physio sessions are customised just for you. We work in small groups with each person receiving targeted exercise for their stage.