Should I exercise in the first few weeks after pregnancy?
Gentle exercise is perfectly safe in the first few weeks after having your baby. Gentle lower tummy exercises and pelvic floor exercises are all it takes to help your body to slowly start to recover. Although exercise may feel like the last thing you want to do while adjusting to life as a mum, it does have some amazing benefits. It can:
- Boost your mood by increasing your happy hormones (endorphins) in your brain.
- Help you to lose weight and regain your pre-baby figure, if you eat sensibly.
- Protect you from soreness, aches and pains
- Give you more energy, if you are feeling lethargic of tired if you are awake for feeds every two hours!
- Improve your overall strength and stamina, giving you more energy to spend time with your newborn.
The most important exercises in the first few days after birth are your pelvic floor exercises. Start doing them as soon as you can. Strengthening your pelvic floor will help to protect you against having accidental leaks! Pelvic floor exercises will also help your body heal more quickly because the exercises improve circulation to the area, helping to reduce swelling and any bruising that may have taken place..
If you have stitches, exercising your pelvic floor won’t put any strain on them so there is no need to worry about that. You may find for the first few days or weeks that you can’t feel your pelvic floor muscles working or that nothing is happening. Keep going, as the feeling in your pelvic floor will return after a few days and it will be working even if you can’t feel it.
Once you feel a little stronger, try going for gentle walks, pushing your baby in his or her buggy. Make sure the pram is the right size for you so you are not leaning forward too much to push the handles. Start with short walks as you will feel uncomfortable, swollen and heavy. Start with short walks of between 10 and 15 minutes and build this up to 20-25 minutes. If you try walking with your baby every morning or evening it will become routine very quickly and is a great habit to get into, particularly if you plan to start exercising more vigorously in a few short months.
The key to healthy exercise is to start slowly and listen to your body– Do not overdo anything- Take your time and do not push yourself. Try a nice mix of gentle walks and mini naps with the baby to keep you hormones nice and balanced. If you are unsure about exercising at all, speak with your midwife or GP- Many recent studies have shown that regular exercise can actually help prevent post natal depression by keeping your moods balanced and your hormones regulated.
Can I exercise after a caesarean?
The gentle exercises mentioned above are safe for you if have had either kind of birth. Gentle exercise of your tummy muscles can help them to recover from the operation. You will probably feel a slight pulling sensation as you start to exercise but this is totally normal. Remember, however, that a caesarean is still an operation and you need to be gentle with yourself.
Are there exercises I should avoid for first six weeks?
Try to avoid any strenuous exercise for the first 6 weeks and avoid swimming if you have had lots of stitches until after you have had a review. Avoid any hands on knees exercises as clots may form where they placenta was attached.
How do I exercise my lower tummy muscles?
Your lower tummy muscle is the most important area to exercise after you have had a baby. It works with your pelvic floor muscles to support your back and pelvis. Exercising your lower tummy muscle may help you to lose your post-pregnancy baby tummy.
Try this exercise, either lying on your side or on your back with your knees bent up. If you have had a section, you may find it uncomfortable to lie on your side for the first few days, so lie on your back.
1. Breathe in and as you breathe out, tighten your pelvic floor muscles like a squeeze and lift. Imagine that you are stopping yourself from going to the toilet. Once you’ve tightened your pelvic floor, gently pull your belly button inwards and upwards. You should feel your lower tummy muscles tighten.
2. Hold this while you count to10 without holding your breath (this is the hard bit!). Then slowly relax your muscles. Wait at least five seconds and then repeat again. Try to avoid moving your back or over-tightening the tummy muscles above your waist.
You may find that you can only hold a squeeze for a second or two in the early days. This is totally normal. Aim to hold your tummy muscles in for 10 seconds by the time your baby is about six weeks old. Give yourself a goal.
You can also try lower tummy muscle exercises sitting on an exercise ball once you can do them lying on your back or side:
1. Sit on an exercise ball with both feet flat on the floor, preferably on a carpet to ensure the ball does not slide away from you.
2. Squeeze your pelvic floor and lower tummy muscles and then gently lift one leg off the floor. Remember to breathe! Hold this for up to five seconds, gently and slowly lower your foot and relax your muscles. Repeat between five and 10 times on both legs.
What can I do to strengthen my pelvis and back?
Pelvic tilts are useful exercises that gently move and stretch your back and exercise your tummy muscles. They can also help to alleviate post-pregnancy back pain or discomfort.
1. Lie on the floor and a pillow under your head. Bend your knees by sliding your feet up towards your bottom.
2. Tighten your pelvic floor and pull in your lower tummy muscles, before pressing the small of your back down into the floor. Hold this for a count to three and then arch your back away from the floor or bed. Repeat this 10 times. Try not to hold your breath at all- breath as normal.
What can I do to strengthen my upper back?
Whether it be breastfeeding or simply holding your new born, you will often find yourself sitting in a slumped position when you’re a new mum. Try these simple exercises to stretch and move your upper back and neck.
1. Sit up very straight with your arms crossed over your chest. Twist to the left and then to the right. Repeat 10 times each way.
2. Sit and link your hands behind your neck, but without straining yourself too much. Twist to the left and then to the right. Repeat 10 times on either side. 3. Sit and link both hands together in front of you. Take your arms up in front of you and above your head, stretched up as far as you can. Hold here for two or three seconds and then slowly lower your arms down again.
If you are a new mum, our team at The Edge would like to wish you all the best for the first few weeks. It’s time to sit and relax and enjoy all of the wonderful moments ahead. It’s also time to take care of yourself, gently recover and build yourself back up again.
If you are interested in meeting with one of our team to have a private chat about Post-Natal exercise, give us a call now on 01 8534091 or write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.