Pregnancy and childbirth can cause changes to the body. These changes can impact many areas of the body including the abdominal wall and pelvic floor. Sometimes certain changes can be subtle and show no symptoms at all. When it comes to resuming exercise and movement, what works for one person may not work for another.
Many mothers can be confused about when is the right time to resume exercise postpartum. The best way to find out if you are ready to resume exercise is to get an assessment from a qualified pelvic floor physiotherapist. The physiotherapist can assess your abdominal wall, pelvic floor and more to examine whether your body is ready to resume exercise and movement.
Here are some things you need to keep in mind before starting with exercise after childbirth.
Consult a physiotherapist
Consulting a pelvic floor physiotherapist can be useful in determining whether you are ready for certain exercises and movements. During the assessment your physiotherapist will examine you and ask questions about the type of exercises you did prior to and during the pregnancy.
A physiotherapist will ask you questions about your bladder and bowel health. The pelvic floor plays a key role in supporting these functions and can help your physiotherapist determine your pelvic floor health.
Discuss with your physiotherapist about any other postpartum concerns like pain in the neck, shoulders, hips, knees and feet. Various lifestyle factors like sleep, everyday activities and more can impact your energy levels and your ability to do certain activities.
Based on the assessment your physiotherapy can tell you when you can begin your exercise plan and what type of activities are appropriate for your body.
When to be concerned
Here are some things you can assess before you start your exercise programme.
- You should not feel any pain or pressure in your pelvis, pelvic floor, vagina or rectum.
- Movements should not cause urinary or bowel leaking or urgency. You can try coughing or jumping with a full bladder to check if you leak any urine.
- You should not feel any hip, pelvic, or back pain during or after movement
- If you experience any of the following then you are not ready for exercise. Consult your physiotherapist to help deal with these issues.
Guidelines for resuming exercise postpartum
Here are some guidelines for starting exercise again after childbirth:
- Start slowly and gradually. You can do low-risk exercises like walking or yoga.
- Listen to your body. If you feel any pain or discomfort stop exercising.
- If you are returning to exercise after vaginal birth then wait until 6-week postnatal check up before going to your exercise programme. It is best to wait until 16 weeks after birth to go back to your normal level of activity.
- A caesarean is a major surgery that can take up to 6 weeks to heal. You should avoid high-impact exercises for 3 to 4 months after your caesarean.
- For 3 months after birth avoid heavy weights, sit ups and aerobic exercises like running.
- Consult your doctor or pelvic floor physiotherapist if you have any concerns.
You can book a physiotherapy appointment with us here.