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Mum On The Run: Post-Natal Exercise Information

By April 18, 2023January 30th, 2024Exercise, Post Natal

You may love running or going to a yoga or Zumba class. Or it’s walking or hitting the gym you enjoy most. If you’ve just had a baby and are looking forward to doing some of the things you did before, when can you return to doing them? Let’s take a look at this: 

Why is post-natal exercise important?

Post-natal exercise is an exercise targeted at the needs of your post-natal body. Unfortunately, until recently, the information we had to work from wasn’t the greatest. However, practitioners now have much better ways to protect and heal your body for the long term. 

Proper postnatal exercise aims to prevent long-term health conditions or injuries after giving birth. This includes strength-boosting pilates, yoga, and, later on, more intense activities. While specific exercises should be avoided or done differently for now, your physiotherapist will also recognise the benefits a postnatal exercise program could have for you.

Can I run after giving birth?

As we all know, running is a high-impact activity. So it’s no surprise that running can significantly affect your pelvic floor. This is because running delivers a heavy load to your lower body and pelvis.

After giving birth, many women are advised to do core exercises as part of their postnatal exercise program. After all, your core is not only your deep abdominal and spinal muscles. Your pelvic floor and diaphragm muscles are also an important part of it. 

Both pregnancy and delivery can lengthen your pelvic floor tissues. A vaginal delivery, for example, can affect your pelvic floor length and strength for 4 to 6 months. However, when it comes to a C-section, though it has less of an impact on your pelvic floor, it’ll still take 6 to 7 months for your abdomen’s scar tissue to regain full strength. 

For optimum postnatal recovery, you must give your body time to heal. Of course, no one knows your body like you, but waiting at least 3 months before introducing loaded exercise like running is essential.

New mom bonding with her baby during her post-natal fitness routine.

When can I start to do high-impact exercises?

So, the 3 months are up, and you’re ready to get more active. You’ve carefully cared for your body and want to continue respecting it. How do you know when your body is ready to up the ante?

What’s normal after giving birth?

You probably experienced a few unusual things after you gave birth. Your pelvic floor or vagina might have felt strange or lax. You may have noticed leaks, too. This is typical enough in the first few weeks after giving birth. In these first weeks after giving birth, pelvic floor exercises are essential, as well as avoiding constipation with a good diet and keeping hydrated. 

What isn’t normal?

These symptoms are standard enough early after a pregnancy, but when should you be worried?

  • Though some leakage is normal enough soon after giving birth, continued or severe bowel or bladder leaking is not. This includes near misses and wind leakage too.
  • Unusual bleeding isn’t normal, either. This is any bleeding beyond 8 weeks that isn’t your period.
  • Another non-typical occurrence is any sensation of bulging or heaviness from your vagina and any vaginal, pelvis, or back pain during physical activity, sex, or using a menstrual cup or tampon.
  • Another thing to watch out for is a pronounced or domed tummy shape.

If you notice these unusual things, contact a health professional or physiotherapist.

How can I make sure I’m ready?

Now that you’re sure you don’t have any pelvic floor issue symptoms, what are some good ways to see if you’re ready for more intense physical activity or workouts?

  • One handy way to understand your body’s current abilities is to look at your pelvic floor exercise tolerance. Of course, you’re probably doing pelvic floor exercises anyway, but can you do 10 reps of 8 seconds, for example?
  • What about your ability to do gentle exercise? Do you have the stamina for a 30-minute walk? If so, test other lower body elements, like balancing on one leg for ten seconds. Try a single-leg squat or single-leg hop if this is easy.
  • You could test out doing the activity. Try jogging on the spot for a complete minute to see how your body does with this. If this is fine, going for a run should be a piece of cake!

How can I develop my lower body?

If some of these tests are challenging, exercises like pilates and yoga could help you build pelvic stability and lower body strength. On top of pelvic floor exercises, exercises and poses that challenge your side, back, and front pelvis muscles are great for increasing your control. Our reformer pilates classes are perfect for this.