It’s no secret that after having a baby it can be quite difficult to get back into the swing of things – especially your exercise routine. One reason for this is that most mums-to-be underestimate just how taxing the whole process of pregnancy and giving birth can be. You might be an avid fitness buff and therefore expect things to get back to normal in no time at all, but that simply isn’t the case.
Reality will hit quite fast after giving birth and the truth is that it will take you much longer to ease back into your regular exercise routine and physical shape after giving birth. Sore, atrophied muscles and sleep deprivation are just some of the factors that you will have to grapple with. You may even be one of the unlucky few who experience stress incontinence while exercising!
However, that shouldn’t discourage you from embracing fitness post pregnancy. With a few tweaks and with a mindful approach, you can slowly ease yourself back into the gym and recommence with a regular workout routine.
Here are 5 top tips to help you get started on the right foot:
Take Your Time
You have just had your baby and are raring to go, trying to get your svelte frame back. However, it’s important for you to take your time and start the process slowly. The general rule of thumb is to avoid going back to the gym until your bleeding has stopped. This could be at least six weeks, especially if you had a caesarean section.
Why is this waiting period so vital? Well, pushing yourself too hard in the beginning can actually set your recovery back a long way. But that doesn’t mean that you should stay holed up in your house for six weeks! You can take up easy activities like walking before you’re ready to go back to your regular exercise class.
Consider Your Pelvic Floor
Before going full-steam into your pre-pregnancy workout routine, it’s important to consider the state of your pelvic floor. This is true even if you have stopped bleeding and your healing is progressing on course. Why is that?
If your pelvic floor is weak, you shouldn’t be doing exercises like pilates, crunches, or general ab work. That’s because putting too much intra-abdominal pressure on your pelvic floor can slow your healing down or even lead to organ prolapse. So start off by working in a daily kegels exercise into your workout in order to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
Focus On Diastasis
It’s very common for new mothers to experience diastasis, a condition that involves the separation of the abdominal muscles. It affects the rectus abdominis – or six-pack muscles – in particular. Make sure that your doctor or healthcare provider checks for this when you go back for your six-week check-up.
It’s important that you catch this condition early. That’s because, in severe cases, you may need to work with a physical therapist who can help draw the affected muscles back together. Also, don’t overdo your abdominal workout early on. For example, you can focus on planks instead of crunches as you get back into the swing of things.
Beware The Wobbly Joints!
Pregnancy wreaks all sorts of havoc on a woman’s body. One major change is that your body starts producing a hormone known as relaxin, which softens the joints and ligaments to help the baby pass through your birth canal. Unfortunately, this hormone can stay in the body for up to six months after childbirth. This can lead to wobbly joints and a loose pelvis. So stay away from high impact workouts or routines that involve a lot of jerky movements.
Have An Open Mind
After birth, most women are very eager to get back to their pre-baby workout routines. Most are dismayed to find out they can’t, and hormonal changes as described above are the main reason why. But that doesn’t mean you get to stay inactive until your body is back in balance! You can take up gentle, low-impact cardio exercises like walking and swimming as you wait to get your groove back.