Having a baby is a wonderful but also extremely stressful experience. Just going for a jog is about the last thing you want to do after giving birth. But after a few weeks you would like to move your body a little more, especially if you exercised regularly before giving birth.
Exercising after giving birth has many positive aspects. Your energy level increases, your mood and your mental well-being improve, strength and endurance increase. Exercise can also help you get rid of aches and pains. In addition, activity supports your pelvic floor training and your postnatal exercises and encourages your body to return to its previous shape more quickly. Exercise can also have a positive effect on your sleep – especially important if you only get a few hours of sleep a night!
When it comes to starting the sport again, the timing has to be right. In order for your recovery phase to run smoothly, it is important to pay attention to your body’s signals. So here are our tips and advice on all aspects of exercise after the birth.
Stress incontinence – easy leakage after giving birth
New mothers often find it difficult to hold urine after giving birth when they laugh, cough, sneeze, or jump around. Sometimes it’s just a splash (stress incontinence), but sometimes the entire bladder empties (void incontinence). In both cases, however, you should speak to a healthcare professional who can provide expert advice.
The pelvic floor exercise will help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles again. For most women, these exercises are critical to keeping bladder function under control after giving birth.
Incidentally, you can start pelvic floor training during pregnancy – and continue doing it right after the birth if you have not been placed in a urinary catheter. But if you feel any pain, it is best to take a break from the exercises and talk to your midwife, nurse or physiotherapist.
Better to wait six weeks with intensive training!
It is recommended that you wait until the check-up after the birth before starting very intense exercise such as aerobics or jogging again. And partly because of the pelvic floor muscles.
When you go jogging, the pressure of the impact pounds along your legs and down to your pelvis – especially on hard surfaces like asphalt. The pelvic floor muscles may not contract properly yet, which in turn can lead to leakage, especially if your pelvic floor was injured during childbirth.
But don’t panic, stress incontinence is often easy to treat! Many cases of stress incontinence can be resolved through pelvic floor exercises, postnatal exercise and physical therapy sessions.
If this sounds familiar to you now, remember to seek professional advice. Until then you can use the Dry & Light incontinence pads from Natracare; a selection of sanitary napkins to provide protection if you leak. The pads are breathable and made of natural materials, so you can wear them well during sports.
The abdominal gap – also called ‘diastasis recti’
After giving birth, it often happens that your so-called ‘six pack abs’ break apart and a gap is created. This happens because these muscles were pulled apart during the 9 months of pregnancy and were also very stressed during labor. This doesn’t happen to every woman, but it does happen quite often. This division results in a small bulge just below the belly button. This is the so-called diastasis recti or “divarication”.
If you think you may have diastasis rectis, you should seek professional advice. Avoid exercises that involve your stomach bending forward, such as push-ups, planking, or lying leg raises.
Your midwife can usually check to see if you have diastasis rectis. If the gap is still the same after 10 weeks, you should ask your doctor to refer you to a physiotherapist who specializes in postnatal postnatal exercise. The physical therapist will be able to show you exercises to reduce the gap and normalize the situation.
You should also pay attention to how you put your baby in the lounger, the car seat or the bathtub and lift it out again.