Postnatal 4: 8-12 weeks postpartum. Postnatal exercise and the benefits.
Updated: Mar 25
We have discussed the early weeks postpartum but alongside your individual pelvic floor program (that can be prescribed by a Women’s Health Physiotherapist), you may start to feel ready to train other muscles of the body to assist in the return to more demanding exercise.
A lot of mothers at this stage want to return to their favourite exercise routines, to regain that strength they had before pregnancy. Keep in mind that your body has been through massive changes and exercises that may have seemed easy prior to pregnancy potentially wont feel the same at this point in time.
Following the healing and recovery phase we always advise a gradual return to exercise with modifications. As physiotherapists and exercise specialists we can provide options such as suitable classes (postnatal specific exercise classes or Pilates), talk to trainers (Personal Trainers, Yoga and Pilates instructors), and prescribe postnatal home exercise programs.
The Pelvic Floor and how it relates to the everyday mumma
The pelvic floor muscles are important in supporting the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus and bowel) as well as preventing any leakage of urine when there is downward pressure on the bladder (e.g. with coughing, running, jumping). The muscles of the pelvic floor work with the abdominal and back muscles help to stabilise and support the spine. Activities include picking up bub, leaning over cot, and lifting out of the car - all that require a strong "core" system.
These muscles will often be weaker after childbirth even if there are NO symptoms. Resuming high impact exercise before these muscles have recovered their strength can then cause problems. We highly encourage a pelvic floor assessment prior to starting any exercise program, whether you have had a vaginal or C-section delivery.
Transverse Abdominus (TA) muscle and how it relates to the everyday mumma
TA is the deepest abdominal muscle. It wraps around the abdomen between the lower ribs and top of the pelvis, functioning like a corset. The function is to stabilise the low back and pelvis BEFORE movement of the arms and/or legs occurs.
TA can be trained in the same position or 4 point kneeling position (below). Cueing pelvic floor, you will also get a co-contraction of TA.
Combining pelvic floor muscle training into exercise.
After you’ve had bub, you’ll be busy looking after you new little addition and bonding as a family. However, this is one of the most important times to look after yourself and invest in recovery.
Pilates is a great place to start as it draws on the principles of core stability training and strength training principles that are gentle and effective to the postpartum population.
Our Postnatal classes are suited to Mums and their Bubs from 6 weeks and they are a fantastic way to recover from vaginal or caesarean delivery. The classes focus on rehabilitating the muscles involved in pregnancy and delivery and help prepare you for the demands of motherhood and returning to more demanding exercise. We strongly recommend you have a Postnatal Assessment with one of our physiotherapists to ensure correct activation of the Pelvic Floor and Transverse Abdominal muscles.
Exercise Guidelines at 8 -12 weeks.
- Aim for at least 30 minutes walking, swimming or low impact exercise per day.
- Continue pelvic floor and abdominal exercises. (prescribed by a Women's health physiotherapist)
- Avoid jumping and jarring activities (e.g. jogging, high impact aerobics) for the first three to six months (you may check with a Women’s Health Physiotherapist to see when it is suitable for you to resume high impact activity).
- Postnatal specific exercise programs (our Postnatal Pilates classes). Common exercises we prescribe postpartum patients in this stage typically involve increasing the challenge of their deep core muscles, leg strengthening to assist the lifting and carrying of bub, mobility exercises to assist in relieving back pain, postural exercises and stretches.
If you have any more questions check in with one of our physiotherapists to get a home program specifically designed for you or contact us to find more about our exercise classes.