Hurray and congratulations! Baby has arrived! You are wondering about everything baby, but you’re wondering about yourself too as you are are getting your pre-pregnancy body.
In a nutshell
Your body has already undergone so many changes during pregnancy and you also delivered a baby, which you know now can also majorly impact the body. You are now taking care of your sweet bundle of joy with a body that is changing yet again. If you are wondering when and how you can start to exercise again, read on.
Changes that come along with motherhood
Before you start being active again though, let’s go over some of the possible postpartum changes in your body:
- Vaginal tearing or C-section incision healing
- Increased weight because of enlarged breasts (from breast milk) which can increase rounding of upper back/shoulders, hence posture problems
- Increased neck, shoulder and back strain from carrying/holding babies and their equipment
- Increased back strain from lifting/lowering babies and toddlers in/out of cribs, car seats, and off the floor
- Back strain from repeatedly bending over to change diapers and play with baby
- Wrist/hand strain from lifting/carrying/holding baby
- Ongoing joint laxity (from relaxin hormone)
- Diastasis recti (abdominal separation which develops during pregnancy)
All of these make exercise and taking care of your body that much more important.
How soon can you start and how?
The answer varies for each new mom but here are some general guidelines to help you plan the next steps. Before you start, make sure to consult your doctor or midwife for specific advice.
- Start gradually: gentle core activation and walking are good starting options.
- Get comfortable with core activation. Ideally you should be guided/assessed by a physio or pelvic floor therapist prior to restarting exercise or physical activity in general.
- All forms of exercise should be gradual and pain-free. Listen to your body and remember that you are recovering from bringing a human being into the world, that is no small feat! Most importantly, do not push through discomfort.
- If you are experiencing incontinence, pelvic pain, painful sex, pelvic organ prolapse or difficulty with pelvic floor activation, please consider seeing a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist. These are all things that can and should be addressed, and they are specialized at addressing them!
- Especially in the early postpartum phases, be sure to get adequate rest and nutrition. Do not try to rush to get back to pre-pregnancy shape or activities.
- Recovery time varies, but generally, mothers who delivered via C-section will have a longer recovery.
Being physically active postpartum benefits the body in many ways:
- It strengthens your body which will help you cope better with new stresses, including carrying baby and baby paraphernalia)
- It improves your mood
- It improves core and pelvic floor strength and function
- It helps you manage diastasis recti (when done correctly)
- It improves and/or restores posture
- It helps your body work towards gradual return to previous activities