There are a number of factors to consider when returning to fitness which is why working with a personal trainer is so advantageous. It will minimise risk of injury and ensure that your goals are realistic and achievable. The exercises will be safe and effective and tailored to the demands of your individual lifestyle and circumstances, and to the type of birth you experienced.
Throughout pregnancy the body’s centre of gravity gradually shifts as the foetus develops and grows in size. Any good post natal programme will include postural correction and maintenance exercises. It is important to lengthen the muscles that may have become tight and to strengthen those that have been weakened during the second and third trimester. Core stabilisation techniques should also be included.
Re-aligning abdominal muscles
During pregnancy the abdominal muscles separate along the linea alba (the line along the centre of your six pack) to make room for the baby causing what is known as diastasis recti abdominis. Three to four days after giving birth the muscles will begin to realign themselves. Depending on how strong the muscles were before pregnancy it can take up to six weeks or longer for full recovery. It’s important to incorporate gentle abdominal exercises to encourage the process of realignment. However, a number of abdonimal exercises should be avoided altogether for some time after the birth as these can lead to further separation of the muscles resulting in a bulge in the abdominal wall causing a ‘doming’ effect. The process of realignment will then take far longer. In some cases the doming will become permanent. Our post-natal experts will be able to guide you through the correct progressions to improve the strength in your abdominal musculature whilst avoiding these unnecessary complications.
When pregnant the level of the hormone relaxin rises dramatically. The elasticity of cartilage and ligaments is increased and therefore joints become unstable and more prone to injury. This is particularly true around the pelvic region, but affects all joints within the body. Relaxin will stay in the body post partum, and the amount of time it is present is entirely dependent on the individual. There are no hard and fast rules and every woman is different. Breast feeding is a key factor as this will extend the length of time that the hormone is present in those inflated levels. In time ligaments will return to their pre pregnancy states of elasticity, but if joints are stressed or over extended while relaxin is present in the body the damage may be irreversible. This can lead to hypermobility and permanent joint instability. Over stretching or high impact exercises will place unecessary pressure on the joints. This is why it is important to follow a specific training programme which takes relaxin and it’s implications into account.
As with pre-natal training, maintaining strength in your pelvic floor is essential. The pressure exerted on this area by various types of training and even daily activities can lead to stress incontinence. It’s vital to keep up the kegels during this time and long after the birth to maximise your ability to avoid this unfortunate reality of motherhood. Again, it’s important to consider the implications of high impact activities here as there is a risk of prolapse of the pelvic organs.
The timing of your exercise regime will affect the taste of your breast milk for your baby. Exercise will increase the amount of lactic acid present in your body. The best rule to follow to avoid this is to feed prior to exercise and at least one hour afterwards. This will ensure the baby is receiving the best tasting and most nutrient rich milk.
If you’re interested in working with us through your post-natal period, contact us for further details or to book your consultation. The rewards of post natal exercise speak for themselves. Find out more about how we can help you following your new arrival with our tailored programmes designed by our specialists in this field.