24 Jul I’ve had a baby, when can I start exercising again?
So, you’ve had your 6 week post natal check up, and the Obstetrician has said everything is fine and sent you on your way. The initial fog that you have been in since your baby has arrived has started to lift (well….maybe). And you feel like doing some exercise. Not a gentle walk pushing your stroller. Some ‘real’ exercise. But when can you start?
Since I’ve had my three children, I’ve had the same conversation over and over with other mums, when can you exercise again? I love running, I used to run every day, can I go running? Can I do cross fit? Can I lift weights? Can I play netball? Or touch? Or roller derby? Or whatever else it might be….
We all accept that exercise is very important for your health and wellbeing, and especially for your mind. But after carrying another person for 9 months, and going through childbirth (vaginal delivery or caesarean, we all gave birth!), we want to do it in the safest way possible.
Anyone who has had a baby can tell you that things feel different afterwards. And things ARE different afterwards. It can take 6-12 months for the ligaments to tighten back up again. This can make you more prone to injury, and more prone to a pelvic organ prolapse (where your pelvic organs – bladder, bowel and uterus – start to descend into your vagina due to a lack of support).
Eight years ago, I worked at one of the largest women’s hospital’s here in Australia, and we were told to give the advice that high impact exercise (e.g. running, netball, touch, heavy weight training) was to be avoided for at least 12 months following childbirth. This was often met with horror by the patients.
Since then I have become aware of two things that have drastically changed my view on the advice I give:
1) There is no one size fits all.
Every one is different. Every birth story is different. Every genetic history is different. Every pelvic floor is different. There should not be a blanket rule for everyone. If you are thinking about returning to exercise, then you need to be assessed, by someone who knows how. And really, your ability to return to the sport, or the body, that you love, can all be predicted by how large your urogenital triangle is (the gap in the pelvic floor muscles where the urethra, vagina and rectum come through). This can be done by an assessment, in the privacy of your own home.
2) People who love running (or netball, or CrossFit etc) are going to return to this regardless.
The other thing I have become aware of, are that people who love their sport, are going to try and do it anyway. So if they see a pelvic floor physiotherapist, who does not assess their pelvic floor, but listens to their birth story and tells them, ‘you can never run again’, then they have done this person a disservice. Because this person is not going to listen. Firstly, how can you tell someone this if you haven’t assessed them? There are high risk people out there where this is valid advice, but it is not a general rule for everyone, you won’t know until you have had an assessment. Secondly, there are options that can be considered to minimalise the risk of damage whilst the ligaments are tightening up, and it is your physiotherapist’s job to be aware of these options, and offer them to you.
At Gold Coast Physio for Women, we are pro exercise. You can decrease your chances of developing pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence issues by returning to your pre pregnancy BMI. To do this, you need to exercise! Let us help you return to what you love doing, give us a call for an appointment today.