Improving your postnatal fitness, or even starting to exercise after pregnancy is at the forefront of many women’s minds, although it is heavily advised and a must if you want to fit into those pre-pregnancy jeans it is important not too rush things! Returning to your pre-pregnancy body as quickly as some celebrities do just isn’t realistic for most women, nor is it safe, more so you should allow your body to readjust naturally. Here are a few common questions that women have asked us:
How quickly can I start exercising again?
The earliest that you are able to being exercising after giving birth would be 6 weeks, after your 6 week check, that is providing you are given the all-clear and the type of delivery you have. Women who have had a normal vaginal deliver tend to get clearance at 6 weeks, however those who have had to have a c-section or some form of episiotomy are usually allowed to start exercising about 12-13 weeks after. Irrespective of the type of deliver you have had you should start retraining you pelvic floor as soon as you can after the delivery, it’s important to do short and long contractions, performing the shorter ones for 5 seconds and the longer ones for up to 30s.
What exercise is going to be most beneficial for me?
Going back to our previous point, retraining your pelvic floor should not be understated, performing it will help reduce your risk of incontinence, something that you will be increasingly susceptible to the more you exercise. In addition to incontinence, if you fail to retrain your pelvic floor properly it will also increase your chances of developing a prolapse later in life, especially if you have successive pregnancies! Regarding your general postnatal fitness performing transverse abdominal work will not only help flatten and tone your stomach but improve your posture and the strength of your core too. Due to the changes your body has been through it more than likely that your glutes will have become weaker also it becomes important to exercise your them, performing clams, lunges or squats will not only help this but also help improve the stability of your lumbo-pelvic-hip region. Due to all the lifting, feeding and carrying it also becomes important to strengthen your upper back, lower back and chest.
What exercise should I avoid?
Depending on whether or not your abdominals separated during your pregnancy it will determine the type of abdominal exercise you should perform when improving your overall postnatal fitness. If they have separated then avoid any rotatory movements or crunches, to help kneed the muscles back together perform exercised for your trans ab’s, such as a pelvic tilt on your back, or static contractions in a kneeling position, for example “abdominal hollowing” or a “one handed/legged reciprocal reach” (aka – superman). If you are unsure whether or not your abdominals have separated then there is a test that you can use, lay on your back with your legs at 45 degree angle, get someone to the place their fingers horizontally in the middle of your ab’s, about an inch above your navel. In this position you then want to crunch up so that only your chest comes off the floor, if they feel a squeezing on either side of their fingers then you shouldn’t have any separation, however if they can keep their fingers pressed down and don’t feel anything squeeze their fingers then you may have (always get a second opinion from a GP or midwife). Due to relaxin that is still in your body your ligaments and joints will still be relatively unstable and weak therefore it is important that you don’t perform any stretches or exercises past pre-pregnancy ranges, also don’t perform any ballistic movements or movements that involve a quick turn of direction.
What will help me loose weight or flatten my stomach?
As we mentioned previously performing transverse abdominal exercise will help flatten and tone your stomach, but in addition to this breastfeeding is a great way to help you loose weight as manny of the fat stores have been specially for that reason. Its more than likely that your diet will have increased during pregnancy and now that you are post natal the focus should be on trying to bring your diet back down, making any other modifications necessary. Don’t just rely on one aspect such as your diet however, try combine diet and exercise, even if it is something as simple as getting outside and walking with the pram, combining diet and exercise will speed up your recovery, weight loss and mood no end!
Are there any classes that I can do?
Fitness4Mum provides some excellent classes to help get your improve your postnatal fitness, their expert team have put together a unique class that takes into consideration the varying needs of postnatal women. Every exercise has been specifically chosen based on a poll of women’s postnatal goals. The classes help improve muscle tone and strength, help lose weight and improve your mood, confidence and well-being, the fun classes are also a great way to meet other mum’s providing a safe environment in which they can let their hair down. The classes take place at various venues across North and West Yorkshire and are reasonably priced at an of £5 per class.
If you have any questions you want answering or anything you want advice don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com.