Today on the blog we are joined by Lauren Atlee from Lifestyle Physio in Cronulla and we are lucky enough to have her share some expertise on returning to exercise after birth.
Returning to exercise after having a baby is something that we are often asked about in the clinic. New mums want to know when they can start exercising, and what they should/shouldn’t be doing. Physically how women respond to pregnancy varies and this determines what is and isn’t appropriate. 1 in 7 women will suffer urinary incontinence with exercise and some may also experience symptoms of a prolapse. Other women may feel deconditioned or have other concerns that can impact on your ability to return to exercise.
Whether you have had a natural or caesarean birth, you may experience pelvic floor and abdominal muscle weakness. It is important to look out for the following signs and symptoms as they may indicate that you should see a health care professional before commencing exercise:
- Stress Incontinence – leaking of urine with coughing, sneezing, running, jumping etc
- Pelvic Organ Prolapse – a feeling of a bulge in the vagina or a sense of heaviness, dragging or pulling
- Abdominal Separation – a tear in the abdominal muscle tissue resulting in a gap in the midline of your stomach muscles
In most circumstances, pelvic floor and abdominal muscle weakness can be easily identified and treated with the right exercises.
Before you start exercising you should make sure you can activate your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles correctly.
- Pelvic floor muscles – squeeze in the muscles around the front passage as if trying to stop the flow of urine. Squeeze in the muscles around the vagina and back passage and suck upwards inside the pelvis. Practice activating your pelvic floor doing quick contractions and then some slow, long holds as you keep breathing.
- Deep abdominal muscles – draw belly button in towards spine and hold as you breathe. It may take a while to be able to hold these muscles on and breathe at the same time.
If you have any concerns or would like to ensure you have correct muscle activation, you should contact your GP, Obstetrician or Women’s Health Physiotherapist.