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Returning to exercise after having a baby

The benefits of exercise are well known. After you have a baby there are some considerations and steps to take before returning to exercise safely.

Physiotherapists who work in pelvic health will recommend a 6 week postnatal check before returning to exercise. This is because your body has undergone significant changes and your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles should be assessed by before returning to exercise.

Because of where the pelvic floor is located, it is impossible for someone to look at you and tell if you are contracting your pelvic floor correctly. Therefore, a postnatal check will involve a real-time ultrasound. The ultrasound head will be placed on your lower belly and a view of your bladder is seen. If you are contracting your pelvic floor correctly, an elevation of the base of the bladder will be seen. An internal assessment will also be recommended to assess muscle strength and check for pelvic organ prolapse.

Common questions mum's have after having a baby and wanting to return to exercise

When can I return to more high impact exercise such as running after having a baby?

There is no magic number, the time someone can safely return to higher impact exercise will depend on the following things

-When you have optimal pelvic floor this would include elevation/strength/endurance/tone/ prolapse

- When there is no pain or urinary leakage with jumping and running

- Will get the client to do a pelvic floor stress test. This involves doing 10 big jumps and 5 coughs with a full bladder, without leaking urine or having the feeling of imminent leakage

- Graduated return to high impact exercise may involve staring with a cross trainer or water running

Other things to consider before returning to running or high impact exercise are:

-The effect of breastfeeding.

-Global strength of muscle groups, in particularly glutes, hamis, calves and joints.

A musculoskeletal physiotherapist can assess your muscles and joints involved on the sport or activity you want t return to and design a specific program to return safely to running and high impact sport.

Why do you still need your pelvic floor assessed if you have had a caesarean?

Often people think there is no need for a pelvic floor assessment if your baby has been delivered by caesarean section. However, this is not true. The weight of the pregnancy puts load on the pelvic floor also pelvic floor muscle dysfunction can be seen in individuals who have not had children at all. If you have never had your pelvic floor assessed there is no guarantee you are correctly activating these muscles correctly. Your physiotherapist will use real time ultrasound and vaginal assessment to determine if you are activating these muscles correctly. The vaginal assessment will also be able to determine the strength of the muscle or if there is any prolapse involved.

How to return to exercise after having a c-section

- Start gradually so you can monitor how you feel after exercise. Then you can increase time and intensity accordingly

- Pain in your scar (burny/achy) after or during exercise means you have probably pushed yourself a bit too much.

- Don’t repeat my mistake and walk to the café 6 days post c-section as I was feeling great. I then sat down to feed the baby and when I stood up it was so painful when I stood up that I felt I couldn’t walk home!

- Start with small walks to the letter box, then to the end of the street, etc. If you do this gradually by 6 weeks post c-section it would be realisitic to walk 30-45 mins briskly.

Once you get the all clear from your Women's Health Physiotherapist and have a plan in action, listen to your body and enjoy moving your body again!


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