Returning to exercise, or even starting exercise, after the birth of your baby can be such an exciting time - it can help you regain a sense of YOU and also give you back some freedom and movement in your day.
But this exciting time must also be met with some intelligence.
Because no matter HOW you birthed your baby, you've gotta admit that there was some level of 'trauma' to your body. That sounds terrible, I know. And I wish I had a better word for it.
But birthing a baby requires some recovery time for your body. And just as you'd expect to recover a knee injury with a plan, you should recover your post natal body with a plan.
So, what do I suggest for YOUR post natal exercise journey?
1. Visit a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist
Your six-week check with your GP IS NOT ENOUGH. It's a great start, don't get me wrong. It's great to touch base with a health professional. But a pelvic health physiotherapist will be able to assess and teach you to do your pelvic floor contractions correctly. They will also be able to assess what level of exercise is appropriate for your stage of recovery. Visit The Victorian Continence Resource Centre for help in finding a great Pelvic Health Physiotherapist in your area.
2. Recognise The Signs Of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
According to Pelvic Floor First, common signs that can indicate a pelvic floor problem include:
- accidentally leaking urine when you exercise, laugh, cough or sneeze
- needing to get to the toilet in a hurry or not making it there in time
- constantly needing to go to the toilet
- finding it difficult to empty your bladder or bowel
- accidentally losing control of your bladder or bowel
- accidentally passing wind
- a prolapse
- in women, this may be felt as a bulge in the vagina or a feeling of heaviness, discomfort, pulling, dragging or dropping
- pain in your pelvic area, or
- painful sex.
If any of these ring true for you, it's a red flag to get yourself to a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist, pronto!
3. Recognise Reality
Celebrity mums seem to snap back to their 'pre-baby body' in a matter of weeks! And maybe some of them do. But can we please just do a reality check here - let's think about exactly WHAT and WHO is involved in this?!
There is more than likely a TEAM of people involved in this - from the nanny, to the personal chef, to the trainer visiting five days a week, to the cleaners.
And even then, is what you see in a posed and curated Instagram photo reality?
And even then, what is so shameful about having a post-baby body?!
Why the rush to get your 'pre-baby body' back?!
Your reality is that recovery takes time. Life is happening around you. Your sleep is terribly interrupted. Your nutrition may not always be what you'd like it to be. Your attention is being pulled in 16 different ways, at once.
And surely the integrity of moving well and safely is better than aesthetics?
4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
On all levels.
Your post natal recovery process is your's, and your's alone. Everyone is different.
And the only way we can all help you along the way is if we all know what is going on.
By WE, I mean YOU, ME (as your super wonderful post natal personal trainer), your Pelvic Health Physiotherapist, your GP and any other allied health professional (osteo, myo, etc) that you may be seeing.
We all need to know what each other is doing to keep you safe and enjoying movement for a long time to come.
Returning to or starting exercise after the birth of your little one requires intelligence and thoughtfulness. Respect and understand what your body has been through. Understand that this process will, and should, take time.
Because you've only got one body to live in. Let's make that experience as enjoyable as possible!