post pregnancy exercise
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  • Health | Resources
  • 28.04.21

How to safely return to exercise after pregnancy

There are a myriad of myths and misconceptions surrounding when is the best time to return to exercise after pregnancy. The truth is, the right time is different for everyone. Some women are ready to exercise after their six-week postnatal check-up, others need more time.

If you love exercise, you probably can’t wait to get back into it and get those endorphins flowing and hit the gym, pilates class or boot-camp. However, there are a few things you need to know before safely returning to exercise after welcoming your little bundle of joy into the world.

Why is exercise important after having a baby?

Grace Private’s physiotherapists Debra Miller and Elle Pidgeon know just how important exercise is after pregnancy.

Exercise can help to:

  • boost energy
  • relieve stress
  • prevent postpartum depression
  • strengthen and tone muscles
  • promote sleep.

Are you ready for post-natal exercise?

When and how you can exercise after pregnancy is dependent on the type of birth. It’s important to listen to your body and know your limits, after all your body has undergone many changes since you conceived and the things you easily accomplished post birth may be more challenging today.

Pregnancy and childbirth can cause back pain, separated abdominal muscles, weaker joints and ligaments and affect your pelvic floor muscles.

Why are pelvic floor muscle exercises so important after pregnancy?

Your pelvic floor muscles are important. They support your uterus, bowel and bladder, and as many women know, they can become weak after pregnancy. Weak pelvic floor muscles can cause urine leakage when coughing, laughing, sneezing and even jumping on a trampoline.

Pelvic floor exercises can improve muscle strength, but beware, using heavy weights or high-impact exercise can cause a prolapse and do more harm than good, so it’s important to exercise at your own pace and listen to your body.

Exercise after a vaginal birth

If you feel like getting up and about you can start with gentle walking. Take cues from your body and gradually increase the time and speed of your walk over time.

If you don’t have any complications and feel up to it, you can start doing gentle abdominal and pelvic floor exercises a couple of days after birth. Any pain is an indication to stop.

While you might feel like jumping back in the pool, avoid swimming until after your first postnatal check up (normally six to eight weeks after birth).

Keen to get back in the gym? You should consult with your doctor or obstetrician after your postnatal check-up before returning to the gym or group exercise classes.

Exercise after a cesarean

Even if you feel fantastic, it’s important to remember that a caesarean is a major operation and will take at least six weeks to heal.

When you start exercising will depend on how you feel. If it feels right, you can do very gentle pelvic floor exercises the day after birth, but avoid any kind of abdominal exercises such as sit-ups, curls or crunches, which put pressure on your scar.

In the first six weeks after a cesarean you should avoid heavy lifting of any kind and excessive walking or stretching.

After six to eight weeks you might feel like walking, or low impact exercise such as cycling, but ensure to stop as soon as you feel any pain or pulling on your scar.

Again, if you feel like getting back in the pool, avoid swimming until after your first postnatal check up.

Generally, high impact exercise can be started three to four months after a cesarean, but it’s important to consult your doctor or obstetrician to get the go-ahead.

How can a Grace physiotherapist help post-natal?

Our experienced Grace physiotherapists, Elle Pidgeon and Debra Miller, specialise in women’s physiotherapy, with a focus on pregnancy and postnatal physiotherapy, incontinence and pelvic floor dysfunction.

Elle and Debra take a holistic approach and provide tailored physiotherapy to meet every woman’s individual needs. They will assess where you’re at and guide you through your recovery and return to exercise in a safe and sustainable way.

At Grace, we recommend a six week postnatal review for an abdominal muscle and pelvic floor assessment. Timeframes for when it is safe for you to return to exercise are different for everyone and an individual assessment is highly recommended.

Remember, you should always get the green light from your obstetrician, GP or qualified physiotherapist before starting any exercise routine following pregnancy.

You can request an appointment with one of our experienced physiotherapists at (Medicare rebates are available if you have a referral from your GP).

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