Congratulations- you've had a baby!
The minute you get pregnant the hormone relaxin kicks in which prepares your pelvis for childbirth. This hormone relaxes all your joints throughout pregnancy and will stay in you until you stop breast feeding – though this will lessen over time.
You may still have quite high levels of relaxin in you, even after your 6 – 10 week Post Natal (PN) check-up. It is important to remember that even after you have been signed off by your midwife/health visitor, you should give your body a rest and avoid putting your joints through too much stress when exercising.
You may be keen to get back into shape and feel well enough to go back to exercise, however, you have just had a baby! It takes 9 months of preparing to have it and then the process of delivering your baby on top of that, means it will take time to be back to how you were before your pregnancy!
Your pelvic floor may be weaker, rectus muscles may be separated, joints may be loose, your lower back may be painful/ache or you may still be healing if recovering from a caesarean section. With all this taken into account, the exercises you do need to be gentle and designed to ease your body back into exercise. Simple exercises can be used on a day to day basis, such as diaphragmatic breathing.
Deep diaphragmatic breathing is one way to help rebuild your abdominal muscles and strengthen your pelvic floor. ‘Reverse breathing’ is the postnatal counterpart of ‘birthing breathing’ which is used to open the birth passage for the baby in late pregnancy. ’Reverse breathing’ is used after the birth of you little one. This can be done by inhaling and then extending the exhalation, while also drawing the abdominal muscles in towards the spine, bringing the pelvic floor up. This is a safe and gentle way to get that toned tummy you have missed throughout your pregnancy. This can also be carried out in water alongside other exercise, such as swimming.
When your lochia (postnatal bleeding) has stopped, swimming is a great form of exercise for the postnatal period and beyond, as it provides a great deal of support- not just physically but also mentally and emotionally. The endorphins released through exercising, help to boost your mood and self-esteem, as well as offering gentle resistance; making even gentle exercise particularly effective. Always begin slowly, building up the length of your swims gradually, making sure you warm up and cool down and that each session lasts no longer than 30 minutes. If your preferred stroke is breaststroke, you’ll need to make a few changes to ensure any pelvic pain or instability that occurred through your pregnancy isn’t aggravated – so focus more on lengthening the glide and not ‘whip kicking’ your legs.
The main thing to think about with postnatal exercise is if you are joining any form of exercise group always ask the Instructor what qualifications they hold in the postnatal field and ensure that you tell them how postnatal you are. A professional qualified Instructor should always ask for your medical history and if you have been signed off by your health professional before they allow you to attend a class. Post natal exercise is really good for you in a huge variety of ways as well as a great way to meet new friends!
WaterBumps offers blissful, pool-based, pre and post natal classes using gentle toning and strengthening exercises, as well as times of relaxation, helping you to cope better with the demands of pregnancy and motherhood.
WaterBumps is the sister company of Water Babies and its first franchise has just been launched in Bristol.
They are hoping to spread their wings throughout the UK as of 2015…. so check out the WaterBumps Facebook page and follow their journey.
Want to know more? Why not visit the website: www.waterbumps.co.uk