About 10 weeks after the birth of my first child I thought I was Superwoman and would go for a jog around the block. After the first 100m I had to cross the road and as I jogged down the kerb I felt a little ‘leak’ and thought, ‘Oh!’ On the other side of the road as I stepped up the kerb, boom, there was more than a little ‘leak’. I decided it was time to turn around and waddle back home for a shower. Needless to say I did not run again for a while and became serious about my pelvic floor exercises and regretted that I had been so slack about doing them.
Pregnancy and birth are physically demanding on your body. No matter how fit you were before and during your pregnancy it is really important to take a rehabilitation exercise phase after the birth of your baby. Typical gym junkies and ‘fit’ women are usually the worst culprits with doing too much too soon. Some unsuspecting Mums have done serious long-term damage.
We want to make sure that we protect our pelvic floor muscles so that we can easily bounce on the trampoline with our kids and not need nappies when we are older. Even if you do not have a leak or everything seems physically healed, doing any high impact exercise too soon can increase your risk of developing a pelvic floor issues or even prolapse.
I would generally suggest waiting 6 months post partum to start running after you have had a baby. Especially if you were not a ‘runner’ pre-baby. There are so many other great exercises you can do instead. It is normal to have some relaxin still in your system, so if you have any joint or hip pains, then hold off running. Again, make sure everything is OK (GP/OB checks) and your pelvic floor is strong. Running would not be a suitable exercise while you still have weak pelvic floor or a prolapse. It is important to listen to your body and modify if necessary.
Post Natal Pelvic Floor Safe Recovery Guide:
- Pelvic Floor – 3 sets per day
- Gentle abdominal bracing – T-zone
- Continue same as Weeks 1-6
- Visit your GP to get the ‘all clear’ to recommence a postnatal exercise program. Please note that this all clear is not the green light to return to your normal activity levels. Minimum 6 weeks for vaginal births, and 10-12 weeks for Caesareans or those who experience birth complications to start postnatal program.
- Low impact post-natal exercise class, Kangatraining, low impact aerobics or aquarobics.
- Assess your Pelvic Floor and Abdominal Separation with a Post Natal Exercise Specialist or Women’s Health Physio
- Progress pelvic floor and transversus abdominal exercises (avoid sit ups & crunches)
- Continue post-natal exercise class & low/moderate impact exercises
- Light weight Gym program – no breath holding
- Slowly progress your level of activity
- Continue with low-moderate impact exercises until at least 6 months post partum.
- Listen to your body and do not push through pain. Revisit your GP or Physio if necessary. The saying, “No pain, No gain”, does not apply to a postnatal Mum.
- If you were a runner pre-pregnancy you might like to attempt a jog if you have no symptoms of weak pelvic floor (such as leaking or vaginal heaviness) or joint pains.
Please note that it is important to do all phases of the recovery guide. So if you are starting your post natal exercises at 20 weeks postpartum, is still very important to start low impact, check pelvic floor, etc., before diving straight into the Week 16+ recovery guide.
Check out Pelvicfloorexercises.com.au pelvicfloorfirst.org.au or continence.org.au for more information
Philippa Bowman, September 2015
Nurtured Fitness Owner
Pre & Post Natal Fitness Expert