Exercise After Baby: Part 1 Pelvic Organ Prolapse
One thing that was on my mind after my little bean was born: when can I start exercising again? Women can usually begin gentle and casual walking within the first 2 weeks postpartum. Light stretching, gentle rotation of arms & ankles are also fine.
After you have passed the 6-week postpartum period and been cleared by your physician, you can slowly get back into your pre-pregnancy exercise routine… but make sure to take it slow. Although most of the physiological and morphological changes are most notable for the first 4–6 weeks postpartum, many experts agree that the muscles, tendons and joints do not return to their prepregnancy state for at least 9–12 months. I know it’s frustrating because who wants to still look pregnant?! Not me!!
If you’ve had a c-section, isometric and gentle stretching and strengthening exercises, as well as casual walking, can be started right away unless there is heavy bleeding,pain, or breast infection or abscess.
Pelvic tilts, hip lifts, pelvic-floor exercises and walking are a great way to start strengthening the core. There should be no pain, if there is make sure to talk to your doc right away.
Women can usually begin gentle and casual walking within the first 2 weeks.
Depending on how your delivery went, expect to feel like your old self again anywhere between 2-8 months.
Now, let’s talk about pelvic organ prolapse. All women will experience some degree of prolapse following the birth of their baby. This happens when the muscles and ligaments responsible for holding up the organs housed in your pelvis are weakend, due to pregnancy and labour, and (depending on the severity) will collapse. Here are common symptoms
Here’s one exercise that will help strengthen your core:
Start by sitting on an exercise ball or sit upright on a chair (make sure you are not slouching)
Purse your lips & exhale as you draw your belly button back towards your spine and LIFT your pelvic floor – right in the middle – imagine drawing up the walls of your vagina, as if pulling a tampon deep up inside. DON’T tuck your tailbone under.
Relax as you inhale (don’t push away – just relax) & repeat. Very Important: nothing moves except a small drawing in of your lower abdomen. Your shoulders, chest or pelvis do not move – so you don’t tuck your tailbone underneath as you contract the muscles, and don’t squeeze or clench your backside or your inner thighs.
Lower abs should draw gently in, not suck in hard. If your rib cage rises or thrusts, if your shoulders hunch or if you’re sucking in your stomach, then its not working right. All this movement will do is displace air & body mass upwards into your ribcage. This increases the pressure inside, not decreases it.
Next, try to isolate your pelvic floor muscles by reconnecting & identifying the right muscles…and focus on them. On an exhale, try a little squeeze at the front where you pee, then on the next exhale, lift the middle – your vagina; then on the next, lift your back passage (imagine drawing your rectum up inside). Try not to clench your butt (it will be hard at first).
Try these pelvic floor acrobatics a few times to focus on the 3 openings of your pelvic floor & re-connect your brain’s nerve pathways to the muscles. Think front, middle, back… then back again!
Remember practice makes perfect 🙂