Listen to your body after childbirth before post pregnancy exercise
Firstly, a huge congratulations to you and your wonderful body. As a woman, you’ve achieved something remarkable by bringing new life into the world. With this, please be kind to your bodies needs. The healing process takes time and can become tedious. However, to help heal your body, the correct postnatal exercise program must be performed regularly and safely to enhance the process.
In the early stages of post-childbirth, it is vital to rest as much as possible and always stay hydrated while maintaining a healthy, wholesome diet. The value of protein and its ability to help repair muscle tissue is vital when supporting your collagen formation. Cooking meals in bulk and popping them in the freezer before your baby arrives is a surefire method to make sure you eat well and stops you from going for “on the go” type meals, which can be very low in nutritional value. Quick tip – if you are ever caught out for something to eat, a simple protein shake is a great way to help in making sure you hit your protein goal for the day.
When Starting Your Postnatal Exercise Program
Remember not to compare yourself to other mummies! I myself started to overthink my postnatal body continuously when I would scroll my Instagram feed in the evenings and see other mums appearing to have quickly snapped back to their prenatal bodies. This is not the norm. Your beautiful body took 9 months to grow your baby and can take just as long, if not longer, to recover fully. Patience is key.
If you’ve had a vaginal delivery, you may have had a tear or episiotomy. You may also find that your pelvic muscles may not be as weak as your abdominals if you’ve had a C-section. Many private and NHS women’s health physios offer a Mummy M.O.T. This is a thorough 6-8 week postnatal check of your posture, breathing, ribcage, stomach and pelvic floor.
The Pelvic Floor
The pelvic floor is attached to the deep layer of the abdominals. When activated correctly, you should feel a slight tension in the lower abs. This should not be a bracing of the entire tummy, sucking in or holding your breath. I completely understand that postnatal pelvic floor exercises can be dull, but see it as laying the foundations of your house. If you get this right, you can then build the strength on top.
When performing your postnatal pelvic floor exercises, it’s important to use the correct form and not to just suck in your breath and tense your abs. You want to squeeze from the back passage as if you’re trying to stop yourself from passing wind, to then bring forward, like you’re trying to stop yourself from peeing. When working the quick fibres, make sure to squeeze and release with no hold or pause. Then when it comes to working the slow fibres, try to hold the contraction for 10 seconds, release and repeat. I would suggest a total of 10 reps.
25 minute Postnatal Workout
Try the free workout below for a gentle reintroduction to exercise after birth. Bookmark this page to always come back to this workout.
Core Exercises Within a Postnatal Exercise Program
Core exercises are also a great addition in helping with building your pelvic muscles. When you are ready to get moving again, why not try my 9 Week Postnatal Series, which caters for all your postpartum needs – challenging you gently, restoring and rebuilding fitness one session at a time and finally progressing your strength and stamina, but in a way that’s mindful for this intense time. An easier approach I also suggest is walking. Walking can be a great way in getting yourself and your baby outdoors while helping you relieve stress. But recognise us mummies need to be strong both mentally and physically, so functional postnatal exercise classes are an excellent progression when you feel you’re ready for them. Prams, your growing baby and toddlers are heavy, so making sure we build our strength is key in aiding us to perform everyday tasks. I would advise in low impact bodyweight squats, lunges and step-ups at first. Remember, you cant just pick up where you left off. Your body has changed. Meet it where it’s at.
Finally, your pregnancy journey is specific to you. Find the appropriate exercises for you personally to help heal your postnatal body. You will know when the time is right to return to a more active lifestyle. There is no right or wrong. Don’t compare yourself to your friends or previous pregnancies. You can discover more advice on the postnatal exercise nhs page.
Love Michelle x
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