As a pelvic floor therapist, this is often one of the first questions I am asked when I see a new mom for an initial assessment. Many women are eager to return to their previous fitness activities but how do you know when is best?
4 things to consider when returning back to exercise post partum:
1. Have you consulted a pelvic floor physiotherapist?
This is the first thing to consider when thinking about returning to exercise post partum. Pelvic floor physiotherapy is a type of therapy that helps to maintain and restore your core during and after pregnancy. Pelvic floor therapists have specialised training to do an internal assessment to specifically address the pelvic floor muscles. This allows the therapist to assess the strength and tone of the muscles which indicates the kinds of exercise you can start with and can help guide your return to exercise.
2. When was your delivery?
Time is an important factor to consider when returning to exercises post partum. Your body needs time to heal after going through the delivery process. Depending on your birthing experience most women find after 3-4 weeks they are ready to start light exercise such as walking. After your 6 week check up with your OB or midwife, you may be feeling more confident to start with some other light exercise such as swimming or modified pilates and yoga. Ultimately your pelvic floor physiotherapist can direct you to activities that your body is ready for after assessing your core strength.
3. Do you have rectus diastasis?
Rectus diastasis is a separation of the abdominal muscles due to overstretching during pregnancy. If a diastasis is noted, this means the abdominals aren’t able to contain intra-abdominal pressure that is produced when doing certain activities. It is recommended to avoid crunches or any heavy core exercises that may stress the pressure system too much. Light exercise as described above is still recommended if you have a diastasis however consulting a pelvic floor therapist will ultimately get to the bottom of why you are experiencing this symptom.
4. What kind of exercises do you want to get back to?
Whether it’s cross-fit, running or yoga that you love to do, everyone is going to recover differently from labour and return to these exercises will always depend on the person. Give yourself time to regain your strength and endurance and start off slow. Remember your body has been through a lot and it may take some time to get back to your previous self. Pelvic physiotherapy is a great way to help you reconnect with your body to get you feeling better, faster.