In my last post I talked about signs that your post baby body is not ready for your workout. It was great to have people reach out and thank me for sharing important information for women’s health. So here’s more. If you are postpartum and have been cleared for exercise there are some things you can start with but there are some exercises you should avoid until your deep abdominals have recovered.
“But Brigid I need to lose the baby weight!” Well first of all, no you don’t but that’s another conversation for another time. Remember you just created life inside your body and then brought that life to the outside world through your body and now you are feeding and caring for that life with your body! And while I don’t want you to focus on postpartum exercise for weight loss, I am a movement educator so I do want you to move.
I hear this question all the time. How soon after giving birth can I exercise? Well it depends on what you are defining as exercise. There are few things you can do right after delivery through the 6 or 8 week mark when you are officially cleared that I will cover in a future post. This post is focused on the after 6 or 8 week postpartum check-up where your doctor “clears” you for exercise.
The first 4 months after having a baby matter the most in building a solid base! Spend this time working on rebuilding your strength from the inside out and avoid exercises that put additional pressure downward on your recovering pelvic floor like jumping, or outward on your rectus abdominus (or6-pack muscle) like sit-ups. Check out the previous post about the signs that you are doing too much or incorrectly.
Here are 5 exercises I suggest to avoid in the first 4 months after giving birth.
- Running! – Running within the first 4 months after giving birth can put added stress on an already strained pelvic floor potentially resulting in or exacerbating a prolapse or incontinence. Even after 4 months if you haven’t done what is needed to rebuild a strong pelvic floor and deep core muscles, leaping back into running could still result in these things. If you have any symptoms like leaking, pressure, feelings of heaviness then you probably aren’t ready to train for that first after baby 5k.
- Plyometrics (jumping jacks, box jumps)– Same as running, these high impact exercises put pressure downward and outward on weak and injured pelvic floor muscles and deep core muscles. Best to avoid until you have done the work to rebuild this strength and connection.
- Planks or Burpees – I’ve got a theme going here. Planks and burpees can create additional intra-abdominal pressure. Intraabdomiwhat? Basically when you don’t coordinate your breath and movement you create pressure that pushes down and out on the pelvic floor and rectus abdominus – creating or exacerbating diastasis recti, pelvic floor symptoms or even hurting your low back.
- Ab flexion against gravity (Sit-ups) – I know ladies you want to get rid of that baby belly pooch and it seems like sit-ups would be the exact way to do that, but in all honesty doing these too soon and incorrectly can actually make that pooch worse, exacerbate a diastasis recti and cause harm to your low back. There are other safer and more effective options for flattening the tummy and we will get to that next blog.
- Hot anything (Pilates, yoga, etc) – Working out in a heated room relaxes your muscles and ligaments which may seem like something you want given how tight and sore you are from breastfeeding and baby carrying. But you will still have the hormone relaxin surging through your body, especially if you are breastfeeding, creating laxity and instability in your joints. Adding the heat in these exercise can create additional instability resulting in injury particular in shoulders and hips. Best to do these exercise without the heat.
If you are in a group class that includes any of these moves consider skipping or modifying until you no longer have symptoms. You will be able to progress back to these things when the time is right. But only after you create a solid foundation from the INSIDE OUT!! Sign up to get the next blog in this series ‘5 post natal exercises to strengthen the core’.
Contact me on the details below to discuss your exercise needs to rebuild your strength after having a baby. All my Pilates mat classes teach correct core engagement and offer modifications for post-natal mums. My home equipment studio can provide smaller group classes or private sessions for more support.