So you have been given the all clear from your doctor, now what do you do? In my experience, when I was given the all clear, my OB told me NOTHING about what I could and couldn't do regarding physical activity. He didn't check the health of my pelvic floor, nor did he check for diastasis recti. If he did check, he was wrong. He told me everything was great and I can get back to my normal routine. Now, Im not sure if he told me this because he knew I was a personal trainer or just because thats protocol. Even though I am a personal trainer, I wasn't 100% certain I knew what to do regarding postpartum exercise. So I tried getting back to my normal routine and that was a DISASTER!
It wasn't until I was struggling through my usual exercises that I realized something wasn't right so I started to do my own research into what I should be doing or what was wrong. There are some wonderful women and businesses out there which lead me to the discovery of diastasis recti and pelvic organ prolapse, along with a few other issues some women get postpartum. Links are at the bottom of this post.
Regardless of whether you have any or no symptoms postpartum, there are right and wrong ways to get back into exercise. If you have a weak/sprained ankle would you start jumping up and down on it telling yourself it will get stronger? No, you would start with rehabilitation exercises to ensure it was healthy before you started hopping on one leg. Well your pelvic floor and core are the same, they need rehabilitation (after the rest period) to start regaining proper function.
5 Things to DO
- Belly/diaphragmatic breathing
- Walk every day
- Stretch out your hips/hip flexors/chest
- Focus on alignment in every day life, this could be when sitting feeding, standing doing the dishes or even driving
- Body weight exercises including SQUATS, LUNGES, GLUTE BRIDGES (focus on the breath whilst moving)
5 Things to AVOID
- Holding your breath while exercising
- Plank positions (including push-ups)
- Picking up/sitting with your baby with poor posture
Now, these rules are not going to be forever. BUT you need to be aware of your body and what it is telling you. Work with a pelvic floor physiotherapist to assess which stage you are at and with a personal trainer who knows about the woman's body postpartum. This way exercises can be integrated when YOUR body is ready. Forget watching the #fitmom and #pushyourlimits craze on social media Do what feels right for YOU and YOUR body!