How to start exercising after giving birth?
Pelvic floor exercises for women after giving birth are the foundation for being able to start working out and shaping your body. Pregnancy impacts pelvic floor muscles, as they become more flexible and stretchy because they are preparing for a childbirth. Of course there are many different outcomes what concerns pelvic floor, as every childbirth is unique and the condition of your pelvic floor cannot be foreseen until you are already holding your baby in your arms.
Some women are lucky and have very flexible muscles, so the impact is minimal, the muscles return to the initial state very soon. However many of us had some sort of injury of the perineum or other tissues and the pelvic floor has been impacted more, sometimes even much more. I cannot go past the c-section either, I had one when delivering my twin girls. The condition of your body after c-section is very different, it’s like having a major abdominal operation, as all the lower abdominal muscles were cut through and have to heal for a longer time.
Why is the post-natal pelvic floor workout good for you?
During pregnancy there are a lot of hormonal changes affecting the pregnant woman and the weight of your uterus is rising rapidly. The pelvic floor muscles are more flexible and sometimes they even become weak and slack. The result of that can be quite inconvenient: urinal incontinence. Your muscles just can’t hold your urine back and drops of it can easily drip out, especially by some physical effort such as coughing, sneezing and even laughing.
With proper pelvic floor exercises you will start to tighten up your core muscles. So your pelvis and internal organs will return in the right position and stay there. And your back and backbone will be more relaxed and painless.
Last but not least; there is another benefit of pelvic floor workout. As you tighten your muscles you also gain more feeling about them. It is scientifically proven that it can improve your sexual experience. But this is whole other subject…
Learn to do it right!
As by all kinds of workout it is essential to learn to perform the exercise properly. Only that way you can prevent injuries, pain and achieve desired effects. And because muscles of the pelvic floor are small and hidden, it is even harder to recognize and learn the right way to squeeze them. 🙂
There are several ways to learn, how to do pelvic floor muscle exercise. However, note that these instructions should only be used during learning process and only once a week! If you do it more often than that you could damage your bladder’s functionality (it could stop emptying completely).
When you’re sitting on the toilet, try to stop the urine stream at the end of urination by squeezing the pelvic floor. Do this only once a week just to test the strength of the muscles and to get the right feeling.
Sit on the chair, your knees and feet slightly wider than your hips, feet flat on the floor. Imagine to try to stop the intestinal gas 😉 . I know it sounds a bit silly, but that’s life! You should squeeze the perineum muscles and try to pull them up, towards your bellybutton. Squeeze as much as you can for a few seconds (if you feel any pain, you should loose the tension a bit, but don’t give in!).
It is important not to squeeze your thighs, buttocks and tummy, as the effect will not be right.
When to start exercising pelvic floor muscles?
Most experts concur that every woman can start exercising pelvic floor muscles the next day after delivering her baby. It depends, tough, on her medical state. Generally the medical staff (gynecologist, midwife, physiotherapist etc.) at the hospital, at which you delivered your baby, give you instructions about early workout and teach you how to preform the exercise.
So, the point is, sooner the better. If you have exercised your pelvic floor during your pregnancy, you have more chance for smother delivery. You have more control over the muscles, not only that you are able to squeeze them, but you are also able to relax them whenever you want.
How do I do it?
I first came across the importance of pelvic floor muscles when I was an active climber and a bit later when I started to practice yoga. At that time I became more conscious of my body and I learned to listen to it more closely. I discovered small muscles (and a bit bigger muscle pain in them) I have never felt before…
So when I found out I was pregnant for the first time I only continued with my workout, which included this kind of exercise regularly.
During the delivery of my oldest daughter T. in 2011, I was able to relax completely (no painkillers and no anesthetics) and the midwife (actually it was HE) was able to preserve my perineum intact. I am sure I have to thank my skills to control the right muscles for that.
After that I started to use these exercises right next day as I was advised in the hospital, and then carried on with it when I got home. I have done it while breastfeeding (it is also said that uterus recovers faster that way), while relaxing on the couch and most of the time while taking a walk.
My workout plan was like this:
- 5 quick squeezes (1 second each), count to 5 to relax, repeat 2 times at the beginning, every day add one more repetition until it reaches 10 – while breastfeeding, watching TV, reading
- long squeeze (5 – 10 seconds), pause (the same length), 5 – 10 repetitions, every day add one second and one repetition until it reaches 10 – while watching TV, reading, taking a walk (when walking I actually counted my steps not seconds) .
I do it all the time now! 😉
REMEMBER: It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, woman or man, pelvic floor muscle exercises are always good for you!
If you have any questions, comments or personal experience, please, feel free to share them with us below. 🙂