If you are keen to get back into exercise after having a baby, congratulations!
The motivation to exercise after having a baby is a great thing. If you can be keen to exercise amidst a life turned upside down by a wee new arrival, that’s a great start! Returning to exercise after baby has so many potential benefits:
- improved energy and resilience to stress
- keeping up with the physical demands of kids
- a better body image
- help with your libido
But wait…what about the pelvic floor?
What about wetting yourself on the trampoline, what about your pelvic organs falling out? Is exercise going to be detrimental to pelvic floor function? Could it even cause irreversible damage?
Some women return to exercise after the baby only to suffer serious setbacks; the mum who returns to netball and becomes incontinent, the mum who starts Pilates and develops a prolapse. These are serious side effects and not only impact on your ability to exercise, but can cause a major blow to your self-esteem. It’s essential that your return to exercise takes into account your pelvic floor “situation” and is graded accordingly.
But how do you know what is safe – how much your pelvic floor can take?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach here. That’s the bad news. Any general advice you hear does not take into account your individual circumstances, such as:
- Your episiotomy tear took a while to heal and still hurts
- Bub had a huge head and weighed over 4kg
- You had pubic symphysis pain during the pregnancy
- You had a five-finger abdominal separation (diastasis rectus abdominis muscles)
- You did yoga until the day before you gave birth
- You’ve been a runner for ten years
- You put on 20kg during the pregnancy
- The vacuum didn’t work and they ended up using forceps
All of these factors influence exercise suitability after birth.
The great news is, you can be given an individualised, progressive exercise program based on your pelvic floor risk.
Very recent research allows us to now measure how “risky” a pelvic floor you have after childbirth. Some aspects of this risk, such as your pelvic floor muscle strength, can be changed. An individualised assessment with a pelvic floor physiotherapist trained in this approach can answer such questions as:
- Am I safe to return to netball?
- Can I ever run again? If not, how can I keep fit?
- Is Pilates going to be good for me?
- Can I do stomach crunches?
- How can I reduce my risks to the pelvic floor?
- What other alternatives are available to me – I’m bored with swimming and walking!
If you would like to find out exactly what exercise you are able to do without harming your pelvic floor, give us a call.
||About Alyssa Tait
Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.
She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.
Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.
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