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When can I exercise after a baby?

When can I start exercising again after birth? Now this is a question that we get asked time and time again and the answer depends on a number of things; there’s no set answer to begin with.  It will very much depend on how fit you were before pregnancy, how active you were during pregnancy, the circumstances of your pregnancy and labour and how well you’ve recovered in the first few days or weeks after giving birth.

Usually the guidelines are you can start exercising from six weeks from a regular delivery minimum, and usually around 13 weeks minimum after a c-section. However, there’s no definitive answer, as Robyn said, several factors come into play.

By exercise, we don’t just mean jumping straight back into what you were doing pre-pregnancy as well, we mean exercise in the sense of slowly rebuilding your core, regaining your posture alignment, and gradually improving your levels of fitness.

It takes nine months….

Pregnancy takes a huge toll on your body, and you’re left with a body that sometimes you can feel a little bit broken. A lot of women say to us after giving birth, “I just don’t feel like this is my body anymore, and I feel really unfit,” and at the moment that is normal. Our trainers can help you to rebuild your body’s foundations.

You’ll tend to have after pregnancy weaker core muscles, weaker pelvic floor, reduced range of motion at joints, your posture will be out of alignment, and one of the biggest areas to look at is the posture. Now, if you have rounded shoulders or your pelvis is out of position, which it most often is after pregnancy, when you do any type of activity or any type of structured exercise as well, you will be doing it most likely in the wrong way. So any squats, lunges, pushes or pulls, et cetera, that you do won’t be performed correctly at the moment, and this could result in injury.

Find a post natal specialist

That is why effective postnatal training needs to be specific. It doesn’t mean that you need to go and join a general mass participation exercise class and just do adaptations, or lower intensity versions of what they are doing, because they’re not addressing your specific issues. At the moment you may have weakened abdominal muscles, separation of the abdominals. You might be leaking a little bit of urine when you laugh, or cough, or jump, and you need specific exercises that actually target those areas and help to improve them, rather than just adaptations of other exercises that potentially can make these conditions worse.

We see women who go straight into mainstream mass participate classes and end up with sore knees, sore hips, public synthesis dysfunction problems, hernias, torn ligaments, sprains, strains, torn muscles, some with a c-section scar that hasn’t healed internally correctly. That’s because they’re performing exercises that their body just isn’t ready for at this moment.

Start with the basics

Sometimes at the time you might not realize that you’re causing much damage and it’s years down the line and your knees are starting to get a little bit sore, your knees are maybe collapsing together, your back is getting worse and worse. That actually it becomes apparent that you needed the deep foundation training first before embarking on more intense exercise.

I think one of the biggest tell-tale signs that Robyn and I see often is with older women, or women who’ve got children maybe in their teens or five plus, who laugh and say to us, “Oh, I can’t go on the trampoline without weeing myself a little,” or, “I can’t do jumping jacks without weeing a little. I can’t run without weeing a little, but that’s normal because I’ve had kids.”

Strong foundations for the future

Well actually, no it’s not, because if you are leaking urine when you perform any kind of exercise that tells us that you have a dysfunction in the core, so either pressure down on the pelvic floor, pressure out, pressure up, there’s increase of pressure in the core unit that is causing you to leak urine because there is an imbalance somewhere. That imbalance can be fixed with the right exercises, and the FFA is here to help correct those imbalances. We want you to be able to jump on the trampoline with your children without having to worry about leaking. We want you to join in a mass participation exercise class further down the line without having to sit out of most of the exercises due to leakage!

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