If you have had a baby recently or even in the last few months and are keen to return to exercise or a postnatal exercise class, then one of the things that you need to know is when you can safely do so.
During the first 6 weeks I would recommend walking and gentle pelvic floor exercises. After this time, the guidelines are that you can return to exercise 6 weeks postnatal and 12 week post c-section.
So as soon as you have been to your GP for your 6-week check and they have given you the all clear, then you are good to go, right?
Well no, not necessarily! Unfortunately, women do believe that they can return to the exercise they were doing pre pregnancy after they have been cleared at their 6 week appointment. Why wouldn’t you when your GP has said so? I’m sorry to say that this is NOT usually not the case! What the GP is clearing you to do is resume normal activities which does not usually include exercise!
There are so many factors to consider, and as we are all individuals and have had a different pregnancy and birth experience then these factors will differ from person to person. This means that what one mum can do another mum perhaps can’t.
Things to consider
Before embarking on an exercise programme we need to consider the following:
• Pelvic Floor Weakness and risk of prolapse
• Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation)
• Changes to Posture
• Relaxin which remains in the body for at least 6 months post natal
• The type of exercise that you want to do and if it is appropriate to you at this time
Even if you leave the delivery room diastasis or prolapse free, you can give yourself these conditions weeks or months down the line by taking part in unsuitable exercise programmes.
It can take at the very least 12 months for your body to heal post-delivery and during this time you are vulnerable to injury.
I certainly would NOT recommend returning to running and any other high impact activities at 6 weeks post-natal. In fact you may need to wait as long as 6 months minimum if not longer.
However, it’s not all bad news, I’m not saying you can’t do anything, you just need to make sure you are doing the right type of exercise at the right time and only progressing when your body is ready.
Before embarking on an exercise programme, ensure you attend a class run by a post-natal exercise specialist. This will ensure an in-depth health screening process including pelvic floor dysfunction and assessment for Diastasis Recti. The information provided during the screening process will enable the trainer to tailor the exercise programme to suit your needs. They should only start to introduce more challenging exercises when your body is ready.
Always look to the bigger picture and the future, as desperate as you may be to get back to what you were doing before. It’s such a short period of time in your life to be taking care of yourself and allowing your body the time is needs to heal. You only get one body… treat it kindly.