Big changes are happening for Randi. After the recent birth of her daughter, she is settling into her new life as a mother of two and navigating her own body’s needs after giving birth. We asked our go-to physical therapist Dr. Denise Jagroo to fill us in on how to best begin rehabilitating while also respecting the healing that needs to be done. We know you’ll find this information incredibly helpful for this crucial time!
There are a million things going through your mind after you give birth. How am I going to raise this tiny human? How am I going to juggle this tiny one with the other big one I have running around? How am I going to maintain my sanity? When should I start exercising again? When will I ever have time to exercise?!
Moving toward rehabilitating your body and respecting the healing process at the same time can be tricky. As a general rule, you should wait until your 6-week post partum check up to engage in any aggressive exercise program. Remember there are still pregnancy hormones running through your body after you give birth. These hormones affect your connective tissue and can still make your joints unstable. It can also affect the connective tissue in between your abdominals causing them to continually be weak weeks after you give birth. So NO SIT UPS for a while! I recommend waiting at least 2 months before you engage in an aggressive exercise/abdominal regimen. Get cleared by your doctor first.
What can you do?
Pelvic Floor exercises
Your pelvis is most likely pretty sore. You definitely want to rest it for a few days. However squeezing your pelvic floor muscles brings blood to the area and facilitates the healing process. (Hint: squeeze as if you are trying to hold in urine or hold back gas.)
Working your diaphragm (your main muscle of respiration that sits under your lungs) is important. Diaphragmatic breathing is a relaxing exercise that triggers your central nervous system to calm down. Also, it helps to engage your abdominal muscles gently to wake them up after all their hard work during your pregnancy.
Stretching exercises for your pelvic and hip muscles will help to even out those muscle forces that were pulling on your pelvis during your pregnancy.
Taking walks will not only get you and your little one out of the house, but it will get your heart pumping at a healthy rate to get you on the road to your pre-baby shape.
If you had a C-section, makes sure your scar is fully healed. You can start to mobilize the area around your scar (not your actual scar) very gently. Start about 2 inches away from the scar in all directions and start moving the skin and connective tissue in different directions. See if it feels stiff going in one direction. Move the skin in that direction more often and hold it a little longer to give it a very gentle stretch. You can be more aggressive later on the post partum period. But you can get the tissue moving early on to facilitate the healing process.
Reach out to your doctor or women’s health physical therapy specialist if you have any questions. You’ll be back to your pre baby shape in no time!
Denise Jagroo, DPT, MTC, WCS is a Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Women’s Health Physical Therapy and the co-author or Your Best Pregnancy: The Ultimate Guide to Easing the Aches, Pains and Uncomfortable Side Effects During Each Stage of Your Pregnancy. Dr. Jagroo has a private practice in midtown Manhattan: www.drjagroo.com
Photo Credit: Nafisa Photography