I am so happy for you on your new arrival!
Important Messages to consider during this period!
1- We Are All Unique: Everyones experience of birth and healing is different and everyone will have a different recovery & return to exercise even in comparisons to previous births.
2- Things to look out for while introducing post natal exercises: No pain, No increase in lochia or bleeding, No leaking, No pelvic floor pressure. No exercise of any kind, at any time in your life should give you pain, anywhere. Discomfort maybe, but no pain! Please stop immediately.
3- There are no blanket time frames: You may hear to wait 6 weeks after a vaginal birth and 12 weeks after C section before you exercise. There are no absolutes & let’s face it Mum life for 6 or 12 weeks is no restful matter. NHS & Women’s Health Physio guidelines advise waiting the initial 6 week healing window, but that doesn't mean that you can’t add small amounts of focused activity in the early weeks and rehabilitating your body safety if you're feeling up to it.
I recommend booking in advance with a Women’s Health Physiotherapist for around the 6 week mark to get a full picture of where you are at. Please message me if you'd like a referral.
Please note the below information is for guidelines only and please only do what feels right in YOUR body
What CAN i do in the first 3 weeks post birth?!
Regardless of the kind of birth you had , reconnecting to the muscles that were under the most amount of strain and stress during pregnancy and birth makes a whole lot of sense: your pelvic floor muscles and abdominal muscles. It's all connected as can be seen in the image above.
Together these make up the bulk of your CORE. While your core is truly your entire trunk, we often call the abdominal area the core for simplicity's sake.
These muscles make up your foundation — muscles that are critical for all movement, organ support, breathing and alignment.
The exercises below can be done slowly at any point after birth - you can do this exercises as often as you like. If all feels okay, try do complete them a couple times a week.
Deep abdominal Breathing 1
Position: Lying on your back or side with knees bent.
Remind yourselves of this diagram and the integration of breathing!
Take a deep breath through your nose. Let your abdominal wall expand upward.
With your lips slightly parted, blow air out through your mouth while gently tightening your abdominal wall. Keep exhaling until you have emptied your lungs.
Now try and add a Pelvic Floor Kegal as you blow the air out by lifting your pelvic floor muscles upwards.
Repeat 8-10 times.
Deep abdominal Breathing 2
Sit comfortably, and place one hand on your
chest and one on your belly.
Envision the diaphragm muscle moving up and down as you breathe.
When you inhale, allow your belly to expand as your lungs fill with air, and your diaphragm moves down to accommodate your full lungs.
When you exhale, feel your belly contract as your diaphragm moves upward.
Repeat 8-10 times with breaks between.
Position: Lying flat on your back with your knees bent and your fleet flat on the bed or floor.
Tilt your pelvis by creating a small space between your lower back against the bed or floor as you inhale.
As you exhale gently close the pocket of air between the lower back and the floor
Repeat and add the pelvic floor kegal on the exhale.
Piston breathing 1
Position: Start this one lying down - you can keep your feet flat on the bed or floor, or prop them on pillows or a chair. When you are feeling up for it, try it in quadruped (all 4’s), tall sitting, and standing.
Whether you are doing this in lying, sitting or standing make sure that your spine and pelvis are nice and neutral and that your lower ribs are not flared out.
INHALE: let your diaphragm move down into your belly; your chest, ribs, belly and pelvic floor expand in 3-D without any pushing on your part - just a natural expansion from your inhale. Like a balloon filling your chest and abdomen.
EXHALE: With pelvic floor focus: lightly and slowly while you draw your pelvic floor up (lifting) and forward - focus on the anus as your starting point and feel it draw "closed" in the direction of your pubic bone, like a zipper, lifting upwards into your pelvis. Keep your jaw relaxed. Some women like to exhale through the nose and others the mouth - do what feels best for you. You can vary the intensity of your contraction here:
light contraction (“zip the clit” is often a helpful cue) strong contraction (“imagine drawing a marble up into your vagina”).
with core focus: engage your deep core muscles thinking of the contraction wrapping around from your back to your front in a hug. Your lower ribs should lower gently, thinking of a line connecting them to your pelvis and one side to the other.
combine it: on the first part of your exhale draw your pelvic floor up, followed by your core muscles as above.
REPEAT: follow the flow of your deep breaths for a count of 10 or more. ry it in quadruped (on all 4’s), sitting, and standing.
Once you’ve reconnected to the muscles of your pelvic floor and core in lying, sitting and standing now is a great time to think about these muscles with your daily tasks…when you can! These muscles work automatically with movement and daily tasks, but after pregnancy (or injury) they can get a bit “lazy” and some focused, conscious connection to them right before a task (“pre-connect”) is a great way to help them re-establish that automatic control.
Apply the “pre-engage” breathing concept to your daily loading tasks:
Before you lift the baby. Before you lift the car seat, or anything else!
Before you lift the laundry basket, groceries, stroller.Before you lift your baby/toddler from their cot, highchair, the floor, the tub, etc.Before you get out of bed.
Before you perform any movement that gives you an ache or pain.
Helpful tip: This is a simple concept, but can be hard to put into practice because we are usually just in a rush to do the task! Start by applying to it just 1-2 daily tasks!!!
From three to six weeks after birth?
Continue with the above and add in-
Goals: Progressively rebuild the Glutes & Hamstrings
Do It: lay on your back with your feet hip-width apart, feet flat on the floor.
you have a few options here, do what feels good! For extra Glute work add a light loop elastic to your knees
INHALE: let your diaphragm move down into your belly allowing your chest, ribs, belly and pelvic floor to expand in 3-D without any pushing on your part - just a natural expansion from your inhale. Like a balloon filling.
EXHALE: engage your core and pelvic floor while simultaneously raising your hips off the floor and lowering back down to the floor.
try to keep a fairly neutral spine, but if your tendency is to arch in the lower back you might benefit from tucking your tail bone under a bit, flattening your lower back slightly before you lift, holding it tucked throughout.
REPEAT: follow the flow of your deep breaths X10-20
Start to add in any Light Movement / Light Stretches that FEEL GOOD
1 - Use your breath. Use your breath. Use your breath. Whether you are resuming more daily tasks or adding in walks and some other movements, I encourage you to tap into your breath to establish a good foundation, this is especially true when the load increases - the greater the load, the more you should utilise your breathing system. Your breath is the best, easiest way to connect to your deep core.
2- Respect the healing process that has to happen in the first six to eight weeks but remember that rebuilding can take up to a year. Your body has been under intense physical stress and strain over the last ten months. Healing and rebuilding will take time. Patience is key.
3-See your Healthcare Practitioner and stop immediately if anything doesn't feel right!
Thanks for reading