Giving birth is an exciting but often overwhelming time in your life, sparking huge changes to your lifestyle and your body. Here are some top tips from Sorcha Callaghan, a Physiotherapist and Pilates instructor at Capital Physio for newbie mums.
Don’t be too hard on yourself!
Most ladies are keen to get back in shape and fit after giving birth which is great and totally understandable. However, it’s really important remember that every pregnancy and delivery is unique and may determine how long it takes you to get back to pre-pregnancy fitness levels. Be patient and be kind to yourself!
Pelvic floor exercises – Don’t stop now!
You have heard all about your pelvic floor through pregnancy but yes here they are again! If you have had a simple vaginal delivery, you can start pelvic floor exercise again fairly soon after giving birth. Because sometimes the pelvic floor may not recover quickly, it’s always worth having an assessment from a women’s health physio for more advice and guidance with your exercises. You are more at risk of a pelvic floor dysfunction if you had a complex vaginal delivery, three or more babies, a high birth weight in excess of four kilograms, or chronic respiratory problems.
The infamous ‘mummy tummy’
It is perfectly normal for the abdominals at the front of our tummy to stretch during pregnancy as it allows for the baby to grow. The gap that can develop between the right and left muscles belly is known as Diatasis Recti and occurs in two thirds of women. Normally the gap is between 1 – 2cms, but during pregnancy it can widen to 5 – 20cms, which goes to show what an amazing creation your body is, constantly adapting to you and your baby’s changing needs!
A simple abdominal training programme can assist you muscles recovery correctly but some women may experience some complications, such as hernias caused by soft tissue susceptible to tearing. It’s important to see a medical professional if you are at all concerned about such issues.
Bringing posture back!
During your pregnancy, your body has done amazing things and been through incredible changes. From a skeletal and muscular perspective, your spinal posture, muscle length and strength have all had to adjust. Now that your baby has arrived, these changes will not necessarily reverse automatically so it’s a good idea to look for enjoyable ways to assist your body.
Pilates is a great way to supplement a return to pre-pregnancy and fitness, as it works on muscle balance and spine strength while also encouraging good posture. The additional benefit of Pilates is that each move can be adapted to your individual needs, addressing any issues caused by difficult deliveries and complications.
Slow down and listen to your body
You know your body better than anyone else, so be mindful of any pains, concerns or discomforts that you notice both during and after your pregnancy. From increased fatigue to aches and pains, don’t be afraid to chat to a medical professional about any problems you experience even if they seem small to you. If ever in doubt, take the safest option and seek professional advice from your GP or midwife.