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It can be daunting returning to the squat rack after giving birth. However, exercise is beneficial for mums for a range of reasons - from regaining strength in your muscles, boosting energy, promoting better sleep and relieving stress. But remember, your body has just done an amazing thing bringing another human being/s into the world, so try not to compare your journey to others, you’ll know when you’re ready to start hitting the gym again.
We've compiled a few helpful tips for you to be mindful of before you jump back into training during your postpartum journey.
SLOW & GRADUAL IS KEY
You’re well aware of the changes your body makes during pregnancy, so when you do feel like returning to the gym it’s crucial you don’t overdo it. The changes of pregnancy and postpartum are huge and need time and patience in order to recover and heal properly.
Labour and birth can cause physical complications such as back pain and bladder leaking, both of which can be further exacerbated by strenuous exercise. Even your pregnancy, hormones can affect your joints and ligaments for up to 6 months after birth, increasing your chances of potential injury. Health practitioners say you can start gentle walking for exercise soon after birth. It's very common to feel like your body is not healing as quickly as you’d like, so the more you can rest your body and allow it to fully recover, the better off you’ll be when you’re ready to exercise. Even if that means you only manage to eat, sleep, and care for your new bundle of joy, that is more than enough.
If you had a difficult or complicated birth best to take it even easier returning to your exercising routine and consult your medical practitioner before starting.
When you are ready to start exercising again and you have chosen to/are able to breastfeed your baby, it’s best to feed or express milk before your workout if possible, to avoid any discomfort.
It’s common for abdominal muscles to separate during the pregnancy, so working to rebuild your core gains is crucial, even for those simple daily tasks. While these muscles usually mend after birth, sometimes they don’t and will need some extra work to avoid any back pain or potential injury.
If you had a caesarean birth you'll need to take it even easier during your postpartum journey due to how major the operation is and the trauma your body sustains. It'll take at least 6 weeks to heal and you'll need to avoid sit-ups and crunches which can put unwanted pressure on the scar.
Some recommended abdominal exercises for mums
Choose one of these positions: sitting, standing, lying on your side, lying on your back, or kneeling on all fours. Pull in your lower tummy towards your spine. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds and breathe normally. Repeat 8 to 12 times, 4 times a day.
And why not include your baby, lying next to you on the floor, while you complete your abdominal exercises.
SQUEEZE THAT PELVIC FLOOR
The pelvic floor (the muscles and ligaments that support the bladder, uterus and bowel) also take a beating and can weaken over the pregnancy and during birth. Working to strengthen those muscles with regular exercise is crucial, but it’s extremely important that you don’t do any more damage by exercising too vigorously and too soon.
If you had a vaginal birth, the pelvic floor is a good place to start focusing on rebuilding strength. Be sure to wait around 3 - 5 days after birth before you start low-intensity pelvic floor exercises.
Some recommended pelvic floor exercises for mums
Sit and lean slightly forward with a straight back. Squeeze and lift the muscles around your vagina as if you are trying to stop urinating midstream. Hold as you count to 8, relax for 8 seconds. If you can’t hold for 8, just hold as long as you can. Repeat about 8 to 12 times.
Remember to stop exercising if you feel any pain or unexplained symptoms and consult your doctor if necessary.
MEDICAL CLEARANCE BEFORE LIFTS
We can’t stress enough the importance of medical clearance by your healthcare practitioner before you get back into your exercise routine, whatever that may look like for you postpartum. This means waiting until your 6-week postnatal check-up before deadlifting how you used to pre-birth.
If you have had a caesarean you will still be healing 6 to 8 weeks after the surgery and is recommended that you avoid high impact exercise for 3 to 4 months. Using heavy weights or doing high-impact exercise before clearance can increase your chances of prolapse (when an organ, such as the uterus, drops down) so be sure to get the all-clear from the doc!
WHILE YOU WAIT: LOW-RISK EXERCISES
Some low-risk exercises that are great to ease back into after pregnancy include:
Swimming and aqua aerobics (once the bleeding has stopped)
LOOSE-FITTING AND COMFORTABLE FITS FOR MUMS
Comfort is key all the time, but especially when your body is going through changes during pregnancy and postpartum. We have comfortable loose fits for the rest days, been up all night days and active days!
SHOP ACTIVE LOUNGE
Supportive bras are also a must for our Ryderwear mums. Check out our most supportive sports bras that will carry you right through your workout. Our two Knockout bras are fit for any movement, and offer high-level support and adjustable back straps for total control over your comfort.
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