In my experience, mum’s in the early period after having a baby are often on a “high”, with a cocktail of feel-good hormones running through their veins. Many mums are feeling so good, even when they’re tired, that they start back jogging or at the gym. Even after this period, when fatigue & depression sets in, the mum’s i know are still champing at the bit to get moving, because it makes them feel better, or because they want to lose weight. Breast feeding and carrying a few extra kilo’s has the effect of making you feel like a cow; literally like your only function is to provide milk.
It is crucial that you get your training right in this period, to set your body up for success in the future. Overdoing it can be as harmful as under-doing it (yes, you do have to move if you want to be as healthy as possible, do not use your baby as an excuse to avoid exercising!!). Moderation and consistency is key, and this is difficult to quantify; each and every one of us has a different “normal” activity, a different capability for exercise, and differing circumstances (like mastitis and hours of sleep).
If you do not have access to a Post-Natal professional trainer, get online and see if you can find a Women’s Health Physio or Gynaecologist who can check you out – internally and externally, in order to measure where you are starting from, that is, where you’re “at” right now. From there you can discuss a safe starting point for your exercise.
For most health professionals, “kegals” and walking is acceptable. What they don’t tell you (or perhaps they don’t realise) is that lying down and drawing up on the pelvic floor only requires about 75 uV of power from the pelvic floor, but walking can require around 95uV. Also, your pelvic floor is intrinsically linked with the other core muscles, which have to be synchronised with your body and leg movements, and can be adversely affected by your spinal position!
So, in the weeks immediately post natal, your core training priorities are as follows:
- Seek professional help to check your core muscles are healed and working properly.
- Improve or correct posture.
- Maintain core “brace” and posture through a series of leg and body movements.
It is this last point that we are going to go through today.
Movement generally will require more or less relative strength or coordination from your core, depending on what the movement and load on the core is. The following is 6 exercises, which do not intuitively look like core exercises. They are in order of least-loaded pelvic floor and core to most-loaded (only attempt if your screening at the physio or gyno is 100%). Remember that your goal is to maintain the Kegal “squeeze” and maintain your posture throughout each of these, then to let it relax completely before repeating the movement.
Make sure you’re comfortable and co-ordinated with each exercise before moving to the next one. You may only get to step 3 for a few weeks, and that is preferable to progressing too quickly.
- Balance on one leg: whilst doing this, perform your “squeeze” and synchronize it with your exhale.
- Pelvic bridge, with an elastic around your knees: during this exercise, synchronise your squeeze and exhale with the pushing up with the butt and out at the knees.
- Lunges: during this exercise, synchronise your squeeze and exhale with the push up to standing. Breathe in as you lunge down towards the floor.
- Stepping lunges, in a variety of directions: during this exercise, synchronise your squeeze and exhale with the push up to standing. Breathe in as you lunge down towards the floor. Remember your posture!
- Stepping lunges, in a variety of directions, and bend over to pick up a weight (put it down on the next rep): during this exercise, synchronise your squeeze and exhale with the push up to standing. Breathe in as you lunge down towards the floor. Remember your posture!
- Same as above, but add a split lunge (jump to change legs) between each rep): during this exercise, synchronise your squeeze and exhale with the landing of the jump, and the landing of the foot in each position.
One of my teachers said that we all know dentures are an option, but we still clean our teeth. This is the perfect analogy for your true core and pelvic floor; we all know incontinence pads are an option, but we still train our true core!!
OR, are you a client and want a trainer of our calibre? Do you need some ‘me’ time? Check out our directory for a trainer near you!