02 May 17

Ease Back Into it With These Post Natal Tips

Guest Post by Lindsay Parfitt, Certified Yoga Instructor

Have you or a dear friend given birth recently and are eager to get back into your health and fitness regime? Take your time! There’s no rush to get back to your full on, pre-pregnancy exercise.  In fact, it could be detrimental to your healing process. Read up below on important tips to maintain your exuberance and vitality.

1. Get checked. Many yoga teachers, trainers and instructors with suggest you wait 6 weeks (vaginal birth) or 8-12 weeks (c-section) before you begin exercising again.  This is important not only because all of you organs are slowly making their way back to their place, but very importantly, because of Diastasis.  Diastasis is the separation that can occur in the rectus abdominus (our “6-pack” abs) during pregnancy. Your doctor should be able to check this for your at your 6 weeks post natal check, and if not, many trained specialists like physios can have a look for you.  The dangers of beginning exercise before this, are that you can increase the separation, which can lead to bulging in the belly, weak abs, and low back pain.

No core exercises! It’s incredibly important that you avoid crunching core exercises until you have been properly checked, and even then, begin with exercises that stablize the transverse abdominals (our “corset abs”).  See out a great instructor (Lindsay Parfitt of Krishnan Yoga has great knowledge in this area) or do your research on safe post natal exercise.

Gentle yoga stretches for the neck and shoulders are a great place to begin and safe in the early days post-natally.  An excellent exercise to help knit the core back together is called ‘Reverse Breathing”. To do this, lie on you back with your knees bent.  Place your hands on your belly and take a deep breathing, feeling your belly rise as you do. Slowly exhale.  Take a few rounds of this (we’ll call this “normal breathing). Then begin to alternate between “normal breathing” and “reverse breathing”.  For reverse breath, on the inhale pull your belly in, as though your drawing it to the spine, on the exhale relax.  Complete 10-20 rounds of this daily.

2. Listen to your body.  It got you this far, and brought your beautiful bundle of joy, so lend it an ear just a little longer.  If you feel up to it, start with walking, and ease yourself back into your old routine slowly. As you begin to attend more classes or hit the gym, bear in mind that  your body will still be full of hormones post-pregnancy, not to forget the effects of lack of sleep.  If you are breast feeding, relaxin (a hormone responsible for helping to relax the joints and ligaments during pregnancy and birth) will still be in your system, so be mindful that you don’t push yourself 100%, otherwise injuries can occur.  Aim for 75-80% of your normal effort.

3. Squeeze before you sneeze.  I know, you thought cringe-worthy advice about your pelvic floor was strictly pre-labour, but it’s not. In fact, the pelvic floor has importance for everyone, men or women, pregnant or not. However, pregnancy and birth (both vaginal and c-section) can exert  extra pressure on your pelvic floor muscles, which can cause leakage/incontinence, back pain, a weak core, and more.  So aim make a regular routine of working your pelvic floor muscles.  Imagine lifting from within, rather than squeezing or gripping.  Make sure the rest of you (glutes, abs) remains relaxed.  And although squeeze before you sneeze is very catchy, try a gentle lift instead to reduce leakage. Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to seek out a good women’s health physical therapist if you are struggling.

Congratulations mama, you’re on your way to a healthier, stronger new you with a wonderful new bundle of joy in tow!

Lindsay, Certified Pre and Post Natal Instructor