How to Return to Exercise Postpartum

Shannon Arens yoga

 

I hear often from postpartum friends, clients and colleagues that they do not know how to get back into exercise after giving birth.  They feel they lost a lot of momentum, their energy levels are low, they do not have anyone to watch the baby if they were go to the gym or a class and they feel muscularly weak.  Well, what if I could release you of that pressure to return to 60-minute workouts that leave you sweating and drained?  Whether you are 6-weeks postpartum or 6 years, you will greatly benefit from exercises designed to rebuild your pelvic floor and transverse abdominis (TVA).  Check out this link from the Mayo Clinic for an anatomical image of a normal pelvic floor.

 

Exercises designed to strengthen all of the core muscles do not always feel like you are actually doing a “workout”, but you will be doing a tremendous service for yourself and your future fitness by focusing on it now. While you were pregnant, your pelvic floor and core muscles were stretched as you made room for your growing fetus. This post shows you how a growing fetus puts pressure on the pelvic floor musculature.  

 

In some cases, not all, postpartum women may experience pelvic organ prolapse. This is when one or more of the pelvic organs drop from their normal position.  If you suspect you may have this, I highly recommend you book an appointment with a pelvic physiotherapist prior to engaging in physical activity.

 

So, we now know that our little baby put a lot of pressure on our core musculature during pregnancy.  When a muscle is stretched, it becomes weakened.  Just like any muscle that experienced atrophy, or a decrease in the size or effectiveness of tissue, you must rehab it with consistency and care.  If you were just recovering from a knee replacement, you most likely would not jump into training for a marathon.  It would just set you up for another injury.  Rather, you would take time to build your mileage, cross train to strengthen muscles to avoid injury, and include rest days.  It is important that postpartum women treat their bodies in this same way. Your pelvic floor and core muscles underwent a trauma, and it is crucial to rehab them back.


Over the course of a series of blogs, I will walk you through how to gradually rebuild your pelvic floor and core and show you which exercises to avoid and which exercises to participate in immediately postpartum.  And bonus: they can all be done at home! I hope you will find this helpful.