By, Melissa Hines, DPT
Returning to your regular programming for exercise after a baby takes time and patience. It’s easy to feel like at 6 weeks, you should magically be feeling better and able to return to your exercise routine. While 6 weeks feels like a long time, it really is such a short duration after giving birth, whether c-section or vaginally. It’s especially short because we often forget that we were pregnant for 40 weeks, and the body has compensated and changed during those 40 weeks. We go from having more flexibility than we had previously from the increased relaxin hormone to having more inflammation in the body from the quick drop in estrogen (this stays low if breastfeeding). And all these hormonal changes contribute to the body's ability to build muscle.
As pelvic floor therapists, we help our patients identify these changes in their body and get back to knowing their own bodies. This is especially important postpartum because we have a new baby to take care of, and it can sometimes feel like an out-of-body experience - tending to the baby and disconnecting from our own bodies. Not listening to the pain we have from feeding the baby or carrying the baby because we simply don’t make the time or we are too exhausted.
Give yourself grace. Start with the foundational movements. Think of it as a chance to really get to know your body! Your amazing body has been through so much and deserves recognition. While you get to know your postpartum body (you will forever be postpartum), take this time to start fresh. Understand the basic movement patterns that help us in everyday movement and learn about your anatomy a little bit - postpartum is the best time to learn more about your pelvic health because, guess what…perimenopause, premenopause, menopause all the pauses are so similar. The more you learn about your body now, the more you will understand these shifts in body and muscular changes that happen when you’re in your 50s or 60s.
We are so proud of you, mamas!
Melissa Hines, DPT
3 Early (pre 6-week follow-up!) Postnatal Exercises
to Reconnect + Strengthen Your Core & Pelvic Floor
Rib cage breathing
Either seated with a chair back behind you or laying down, take slow inhales through the nose, imagining your ribcage can open up like an umbrella. 10-15 breaths or what feels like 1 minute.
Inhale, bring your gaze and tailbone up and allow your belly to relax to the floor
Exhale rounding your spine
Sit onto your sit bones
Place one hand on belly
Inhale with ribcage expansion (ribcage breathing)
Exhale slowly as if you were blowing out birthday candles
Feel your abdomen lift in and up