Week 13: Top tips for new mums planning to get back into shape
It's great for your mind and body to get back to exercise after having a new baby. Take it one step at a time and remember to listen to yourself.
You can start your pelvic floor exercises as soon as you feel comfortable enough (for most women, this will be in the first few days after baby arrives).
Your pelvic floor and deep tummy muscles are your body's foundations and they have lots of important functions. When they are strong and working well, they will help to:
• Allow you to effectively empty and control your bladder and bowel
• Support and stablilise your rib cage, spine and pelvic organs
• Prevent pelvic organ prolapse (dropping of the womb, bladder or bowel)
• Contribute to a healthy sex life
Top 10 New Mum Exercise Tips
1. Give yourself enough time to heal before starting an exercise program (particularly if you have had a Caesarean section or a difficult delivery).
2. Consult with your doctor, midwife or chartered physiotherapist before starting a program.
3. Remember that your ligaments can remain loose for a few months after having your baby (and longer if you breastfeed), so avoid high-impact exercise or activities that require quick changes of directions.
4. Choose low-impact exercise such as walking, yoga, pilates and swimming.
5. Wear suitable footwear, clothing and a supportive bra.
6. Build up your exercise tolerance slowly: start off with 5-10 minutes of exercise and increase gradually until you eventually build up to 30 minutes five days per week.
7. Aim for moderate- intensity exercise (use the "talk test" - you should be slightly out of breath but still able to carry on a conversation).
8. Avoid exercises that put increased load or pressure on your pelvic floor muscles until they have regained full function and strength (this would include high-impact/high-load sports, such as running, advanced cross fit, weight lifting etc).
9. Avoid advanced core exercises, such as abdominal crunches and planks, until your abdominals and pelvic floor muscles have recovered.
10. If you experience pain, stop! Consult your doctor or a chartered physiotherapist in your local area.
To find a chartered physiotherapist near you, visit www.findaphysio.ie. For further information, contact the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists on 01 402 2148 or email firstname.lastname@example.org