Exercise After Childbirth- Part 1
Most new moms are ready to shed those extra pounds and jump right back into their pre-pregnancy workouts right after giving birth. With all the changes that have happened to your body over the last 9 months doing what you did before getting pregnant might not be the smartest and safest thing for your body. Certain exercises can cause long-term problems for your body. Knowing what exercises are safe to do and which are harmful is very important after having your baby.
3 Issues you want to Avoid when Resuming Exercise After Delivery
There are 3 major issues you might encounter if you are not careful with exercising immediately after giving birth. You are at risk for low back strain, prolapsing of your pelvic organs (falling out of your vagina) and diastasis recti- a separation of your rectus abdominus muscle, known as the six-pack muscle.
Each issue is so important that we’ll talk about them in a separate post so you have clear understanding on how to avoid developing these problems that are no fun to experience.
Low Back Strain/Pain
Our core muscles in our body are made up of 3 muscles, the transverse abdominus, the pelvic floor and the multifidus muscles in the back. Two of these muscles have been completely stretched to the max from childbirth and pregnancy and are very weak, the tranverse abdominus muscle and your pelvic floor muscles. The transverse abdominus muscle runs from your spine in the back around to the front and attaches into the rectus abdominus or the six-pack muscle. It acts like a corset supporting your spine. Remember how stretched out this muscle was with your pregnant belly? If you don’t do any strengthening of this muscle and just let it be it will shrink back but may not be as short as it was prior to pregnancy, thus giving you a little pooch in your belly.
So your pregnancy loosened the corset around your back and pelvis and you don’t have the support you had prior to pregnancy.
Jumping right back into doing the same exercises as you did before pregnancy can cause a strain on your back as your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles don’t have the strength to stabilize the spine like it did before.
So your first order of exercise should be to re-strengthen your transverse abdominus muscle and your pelvic floor muscles. Performing a kegel, or pelvic floor contraction is important in the post partum period. Normal strength of the pelvic floor muscles is the ability of the muscles to maintain a good contraction for 10 seconds. Click here to learn more about restrengthening your pelvic floor after childbirth.
While this is a great idea and may be a little easier for a mom who had a c-section than a vaginal birth, trauma to the pelvic floor tissues can prevent any strengthening from happening. Helping to heal the vaginal tissues that got so strained during the birth process can help improve your muscles ability to contract. Click here to read more on how to do that.
Working on restrengthening your abdominal muscles is also a must after childbirth. The abdominal muscles act as a corset to support our spine. Without this support our spine is at increased risk for injury. The abdominal muscles get extremely lengthened during pregnancy and sometimes can separate creating a diastasis recti. If you have any separation, this alone can cause low back pain as the muscles are ineffective in supporting the spine. You need to heal this first and part of healing a diastasis is restrengthening your abdominal muscles correctly. Doing crunches will only make things worse!
In my class and video, How to Lose the Pooch for Good, I present a 4 step healing process to bring your abdominal muscles back together and also how to restrengthen your abdominal muscles safely to get rid of your “pooch” for good!
Also your pelvis has just gone through an amazing transformation getting your baby out and may have some challenges getting back to it’s normal position. This can create low back pain as well. Opening up to allow your baby out creates an instability that takes time to solidify again. This usually takes around 3-4 months. I recommend you wait until then to resume any high impact aerobic activities. Focus in on just doing your abdominal restrengthening and your kegels and walking for the first 3 months. Then once your core is stronger then you can introduce more high impact type of activities.
But with everything you do, you must listen to your body. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it! You only have one body, so you need to learn to take care of it, honor it and do what feels right.