Oct 26

Safe return to postnatal exercise

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Postnatal doesn’t mean weakened or damaged. It means that through pregnancy and childbirth your body has accommodated these processes. The incredible journey of pregnancy and birth needs to be considered and respected for the rest of your life. Embrace this new empowered body and wonder at all it has achieved and respect that postnatal exercise needs to look different for a while.

It doesn’t matter if your child is an infant, toddler, teenager or a parent themselves. Your body has created another human being and through that incredible journey has changed irrevocably. This is not a negative thing!

We are bombarded with irresponsible messages

The media and society has a huge responsibility in the messages it sends to new mums. “Bouncing back” is applauded and women often don’t realise that by returning to their pre-baby exercise regime too soon they can be doing more harm than good. It is a myth that your body will return to it’s pre-pregnancy self with time. Time is irrelevant (to a point) – it is the rehabilitation of the postnatal body that matters. Every single woman who has had a baby needs to be made aware of this. It isn’t just a case of doing some pelvic floor exercises and then going for a run!

What’s changed?!

There are so many changes within your body that happen throughout pregnancy and childbirth. Your ribcage and pelvis have had to expand in order to accommodate a growing baby. Posture needs to adapt to balance the ever growing baby bump and your ligaments and abdominals have softened and stretched to allow for this gentle expansion. Your pelvic floor has held an extra, growing weight for 9 months and the organs have shifted their position and SO MUCH more.

Then there is the birthing process which affects your pelvic floor to varying degrees depending on your delivery. During vaginal deliveries, your pelvic floor has been stretched to accommodate the baby’s head. If you had a caesarean birth or episiotomy then there will be scar tissue that will have continuing effects on your connective tissue. Is it any wonder that our bodies aren’t the same afterwards?!

Adjusting expectations

In the early postnatal days, we often try to do far more than our bodies were designed to do after childbirth. This also has a long term impact on our bodies and the pressure that goes into our weakened pelvic floor and abdominals. Due to these huge demands on your structure, the rest of your body has worked overtime to continue to support you. Every body needs to be rehabilitated after birth in order to be able to successfully return to whatever exercise is right for you. Even Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill took her time returning to exercise but then won an Olympic medal two years later! It’s not that you can’t get back to doing whatever your goals are, but you need to do it safely.

Centred Mums in Motion

The focus of this online postnatal exercise programme is on regaining a strong and functional core rather than weight loss but you are likely to find that when your core is functioning better your abdominals will feel flatter, you are less likely to experience pain or injury and you can return to your high impact exercise safely and with confidence. You can find more info about this programme here https://centredmums.com/online-pilates-classes/centred-mums-in-motion/

Start from scratch

You need to heal your body from the inside out. If this process is rushed or skipped altogether issues like pelvic floor dysfunction, prolapse and abdominal separation are more likely to arise further down the line. It is often not until menopause, when oestrogen levels drop and muscle definition is reduced, that women truly notice the damage that can be done by not respecting the postnatal body. Take the time to recognise your body’s status and nurture it back to restored health with specific and tailored postnatal exercise. And remember it is never too late to start the rehabilitation process.

You are unique

Everyone’s journey is different. How you have used your body throughout your pregnancy and also the rest of your life will also determine when you are ready and for what. Listen to your body. Get the technique and the understanding first because once you have that everything will fall into place. And please do get in touch with us if you have questions! That is what we are here for!

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