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"Strengthen your pelvic floor!" A physio shares their top 3 tips for a post-natal return to exercise.

Exercise post-baby is a treacherous beast. 

For many, getting back into the gym after giving birth is the absolute last thing on their mind, while others are counting down the days to get back into their pre-baby fitness routine. 

Whichever camp you're in, we see you.

Watch: Tiffiny Hall speaks about post-baby body expectations in the video below. Post continues after video.


Video via Mamamia

But, whether it's been two weeks or two years, there's certainly a right and wrong way to go about it as physiotherapist and pilates instructor, Chloe De Winter explains.

"It's really important that you have clearance to resume exercise by your obstetrician or your midwife. 

"The minimum timing for this after a cesarean will be six weeks because you need time for your body to recover from that surgery, and if you had a vaginal birth, it'll be a minimum of two weeks but often it is more."

Now, I know you're just itching to jump into a few burpees and a high-intensity cycle class, but hold your horses for just a moment. 

The types of exercise you can return to may vary.

So, here are Chloe's top tips for getting back into exercise post-baby.

1. Strengthen your pelvic floor

In birth, your pelvic floor muscles take a big hit, as Chloe explains: 

"In pregnancy there's a lot of pressure placed on the pelvic floor due to the increased pressure in that pelvic region pressing down.  

"That combined with the birth of your baby, depending on what type of birth experience you had, can put a lot of strain on the pelvic floor and therefore cause a lot of weakness."

Before getting back into exercise, you want to restrengthen those muscles through pelvic floor training... and it's simpler than you might think.

There are a few simple exercises you can do right now from the comfort of your own home to get started.

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"Relax your body and then fully allow the muscles around the pelvis, around your hips, your glutes to really relax and then only think about the sensation of holding on for the toilet, like you're busting for the toilet and you want to feel this internal squeeze and lift of those muscles. Then you want to relax them fully."

It's that easy!

2. Diastasis of the rectus abdominis

A.K.A. a good, deep stretch of the tummy muscles.

To put it simply, when you get pregnant, your tummy stretches to make room for a baby.

After you have the baby and your tummy starts to come back in, there is still sometimes a stretch in that tissue, but it's something that can be healed with the right exercises.

If you suspect you may have diastasis of the rectus abdominis, Chloe recommends confirming with a physio, but there are also a few exercises you can implement to help with recovery.

Most importantly, Chloe says to avoid any really intense abdominal exercises. 

"No curl ups, no planks. None of that. Instead, focus on more gentle abdominal activation and then you can slowly build that back into your exercise program."

Chloe suggests continuing to build your pelvic muscles, strengthening your core with gentle abdominal exercises on your back, and deep belly breathing.

3. Upper body stretches

"The number one complaint I get from new mums is tightness and tension through the neck and shoulder," Chloe says.

"So try to make sure you incorporate some upper body and postural stretches, and also some strengthening for your upper body to help support your body as you're carrying and lifting and pushing all of that activity that comes with having a new baby.

"The biggest thing to remember when returning to exercise is to be kind to yourself and give yourself time.

"Be patient with yourself. It's not a race, and it's really important to go slowly go gradually and build that strength properly."

Chloe de Winter is a physiotherapist, master Pilates instructor and the founder of online Pilates platform Go Chlo Pilates. Chloe's premium at-home Pilates classes are suitable for all levels and stages of life. Experience the joy of movement with Go Chlo Pilates.

For more information on Pilates, subscribe to Go Chlo Pilates on demand. Access over 200 classes and new Pilates workouts every week, anywhere, anytime. Start your 14-day free trial today. 

Feature Image: Getty.