Many females come in to see us at Body Clinic who have recently had a baby and are well set on starting training as soon as possible. Their body has changed and they want to get back to looking good as soon as possible. The truth of the matter is unfortunately the body needs time to rest. The first six weeks is the healing phase, you will be feeling tired and lethargic especially if you start doing too much too soon. Also if you had any complications during labor then the recover time needed is greater.
Once you have given yourself enough time to fully recover then training can begin gradually. You need to need consider your pelvic floor. Most likely after labor your pelvic floor will be weak. So, putting intra-abdominal pressure such as sit ups, crunches, Pilates or general abdominal work can put too much pressure on the pelvic floor and inhibit healing or even lead to a chance of organ prolapse. One of the first forms of exercise you can start to incorporate daily exercises re-strengthening or even re-familiarising yourself with your pelvic floor muscles.
It is very common that women experience a separation of the abdominal muscles, specifically the rectus abdominals (stomach). This can be checked by you care provider when you return for your six week check up. If it is severe enough, you may need to work with a physical therapist to help draw the muscles back together. So, when easing back to an abdominal workout, be mindful not to overdo it.
If you are egger to get started with exercise walking is a great place to start: do not forget walking as a great gentle cardiovascular exercise. You can even take the pram and both get some air. The only thing you need to avoid in the early stages is high impact exercise such as running, circuit training classes and resistance training.
Once you are fully recovered and you are looking to get results I strongly recommend you work with a professional trainer as they can design a conditioning programme specific for you and your goals. However also ensure they are qualified for this and have experience in working with females after childbirth. A good conditioning coach can include pelvic floor exercise as well as safe resistance training and cardiovascular exercise to help you reach your goals quicker and more effectively.
A final point that is often over looked once you do start to ease back into a more active routine, please remember to hydrate, especially if you are breastfeeding. If you are out for a stroll with your baby, take your water bottle with; most prams now even have a cup holder so it’s a great reminder to drink often.
If you would like any more information on getting active after childbirth or interested in training with myself or one of my team of trainers please contact:
James Burroughs – Director / Conditioning Coach