February, March and April are some of the busiest times of the year in Ireland’s Maternity hospitals. As hundreds of new mums give birth one of their biggest concerns after delivery is the battle to get back in shape. Every new mother can rest assured that her pre-pregnancy fitness levels can be achieved and need not be rushed.
Don’t get bogged down in time frames!
The timeline for getting back in shape after pregnancy is different for each mum and pregnancy but a gradual approach to exercise and adopting a healthy eating plan will lead to pre-pregnancy fitness levels and a renewed sense of wellbeing.
- Exercise regimes need to be gradual and return to high impact activity should not be undertaken too soon.
- If pregnancy and delivery are uncomplicated, a mild exercise programme can start immediately. Many maternity hospitals/units have postnatal exercise classes and/or a Chartered Physiotherapist who you can talk to about appropriate exercise.
- Pelvic floor muscle exercises and gentle abdominal /core stability training can be started within days of delivery and walking and Pilates are also helpful.
- Swimming or aqua-aerobics can commence once there have been seven consecutive days clear of lochia (bleeding).
- Benefits of postnatal exercise include: increased energy, weight loss, raised positive mood, reduced anxiety and reduced depression.
- Light to moderate exercise is safe and beneficial for breastfeeding mums and has no effect on the supply, taste or composition of breast milk. Many breastfeeding mothers find exercise more comfortable when they wear a supportive bra and if they feed their baby or pump beforehand.
- Further active exercise may be introduced after 6-8 weeks (10-12 weeks after a Caesarean)
Keep up your homework!
All women who attend antenatal education sessions given by Chartered Physiotherapists currently receive information regarding pelvic floor muscle training and suitable abdominal exercises. Ideally pelvic floor exercises should be practised daily by all women to prevent urinary incontinence throughout their pregnancy and after delivery. Women with bladder or bowel problems, prolapse or pain are especially recommended to seek assessment and treatment from their local Chartered Physiotherapist in Women’s Health and Continence.
The ISCP is an official supporter of the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon. To find a chartered physiotherapist near you visit www.findaphysio.ie. For a list of Chartered Physiotherapists who specialise in women’s health and continence contact the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists on 01 402 2148 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.