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CENTRAL CANTERBURY NEWS, JUNE 19, 2013
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Ease back into
Post-natal exercise: Getting your body back to what it was before junior came into your life.
By RACHAEL RICKARD,
Mountain Gym & Studiofit
High-impact exercise such as
running or aerobics should be put
off until at least six weeks after
You've experienced the joy of pregnancy,
endured a fast, slow, long, painful, joyous,
overwhelming, or empowering labour and
delivery, and now you have a new addition
to your life.
If you are like me, in the back of your
mind (or maybe the front), you are
wondering if life will ever be the same --
it won't. Will you eventually get more
sleep? (Probably not.) And will you get your
body back? (Yes you can, but go easy to
According to research and advice, post-
natal exercise assists new mums physically
and mentally as they adjust to this new way
of life, but how and when will you be ready
get moving and fit once again?
Experts suggest you listen to your body.
Once you have clearance from your lead
maternity carer (LMC) and a body that is
pain-free, a slow start into the world of
exercise is recommended.
My LMC suggested a pyramid approach,
easing back into exercise at the same rate
(and same exercises) at which I slowed it
down during pregnancy.
High-impact exercise such as running or
aerobics should be put off until at least six
weeks after delivery, as the effects of the
hormones that soften joints during
pregnancy take a few weeks to reverse.
During this time, tissues are softer and
therefore the risk of injury is greater.
If you have had a C-section delivery, then
it is suggested that you wait up to six
months before engaging in any abdominal-
focused workouts, or seek specific guidance
from a physiotherapist or specialist.
Post-natal exercise can begin with regular
walking, a gentle bike ride, or a swim. Try to
view this as a treat for yourself, rather than
a ''need to''.
And you'll need to do those pelvic floor
exercises. These improve the function of
your pelvic muscles, to help your control
bladder and bowel, and prevent prolapse.
Taking good care of yourself ranks high in
the priorities, and exercising is a great way
to achieve this.
After a few months, you may want to
consider longer walks, yoga, or pilates
classes, cycling or swimming, or gently
returning to your chosen sport or activity.
Mums who are breastfeeding and beginning
to exercise more rigorously need to ensure
they are eating and drinking enough to
balance the increased calorie burn.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
To start with, try these exercises while
sitting, and as your muscles get stronger,
you can try them in a standing position.
Build on your exercises each day. Remember
to engage your pelvic floor muscles during
your daily activities, such as when lifting and
walking up stairs.
1. Squeeze or tighten the muscles you
would use if you were trying to hold on and
not go to the toilet.
2. Squeeze these muscles strongly for up
to 6 seconds, breathing normally.
3. Release and relax your pelvic muscles --
you should have a definite feeling of
4. Rest for 10-20 seconds -- repeat the
squeezing action, working towards 12
5. Then try 5-10 short, fast strong
contractions, keep breathing normally.
6. Squeeze and lift the muscles up. Do not
push down, pull your tummy in or tighten
your buttocks and thighs.
7. Repeat these exercises for 5-10 minutes
8. Always engage your pelvic floor
muscles when you need them most, such as
before you cough, sneeze, lift, bend, get up
out of a chair.
If you have other pregnancy-related
physical conditions, such as separated
abdominal muscles (rectus), there are
specific exercises you can do to restore
If you are unsure about how much to
do, please seek further advice from your
LMC or doctor.
If you are new to exercise, have a health
problem, or take regular medication, consult
with your doctor or exercise professional
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