Exercising After Having A Baby… When Is It Safe To Start?

Tiny babies feet

Exercising After Having A Baby… When Is It Safe To Start?

I wanted to tell you about a common question that I got asked four times in the last two weeks… as most of these women were about three months after having their baby, some were sooner, and they want to know, “When is it safe for me to go back into my old fitness routine?” Whether that’s CrossFit,  Pilates,  or running, a lot of these women are feeling unsure…and I felt the same way. I had a nine-pound baby, so I get it!

It might be that their core muscles feel like jello now, they’re not sure if their pelvic floor muscles have gone back to the way they were before, and maybe they’re having some bladder leakage problems when they cough, sneeze, or jump. They’re just concerned that going back in their fitness activity was so intense and now not sure if their body is ready.

Some of the things that I like to advise women I see, I mean, obviously, every woman is going to be a little bit different and I’m going to take an individualized approach, but there’s some general things to watch out for during this postpartum stage.  So number one is you want to make sure that your bleeding has stopped.  That means that your healing has not taken place. And if you had a C-section, wait until at least six weeks after having the baby.

Another thing is staying hydrated. You want to make sure you’re getting enough fluids, especially if you’re breastfeeding. And this is important if you start exercising and you’re going to lose fluids. You want to make sure because that will help the healing process as well.

And then, the questions I get about doing abdominal exercises as a lot of women aren’t sure what’s safe to do afterward or why the belly bulge looks like they’re still pregnant, or it’s not going down even though they lost the weight. They’re seeing a little bit of a ridge there which some women after having babies, especially larger babies sometimes, is you develop what’s called a diastasis recti during pregnancy that doesn’t always heal itself. So working on exercises with a lot of twisting or crunching, or a lot of planks, can actually be detrimental to someone that has diastasis recti. So consulting with a women’s health physical therapist to give you the right guidance, the right type of exercises to do, is going to be really helpful.

Also, pelvic floor weakness or pelvic floor issues where you’re leaking with coughing, sneezing, running, or jumping, that means a couple different things. You could have some weakness in your pelvic floor. You could still be healing, so easing back into those higher intensity exercises and getting some guidance from a pelvic floor physical therapist, and learning the right types of exercises will be helpful.  Kegels aren’t always the answer and aren’t always the way to cure bladder issues. Getting some guidance from a pelvic floor PT will be necessary.

Also easing back into a fitness routine with activities like walking or swimming, things that don’t put a lot of pressure on your pelvic floor.  Also with increasing intra-abdominal pressure with higher load activities can place your healing pelvic floor at risk for things like pelvic organ prolapse, which can happen if you lift something too heavy or without proper body mechanics.

So those are a few of the common tips that I give my clients as they thing about easing back into fitness.   If you have any other questions or wants some guidance about what to do, I’d be happy to talk with you. Our number is (760) 503-4440 or feel free to browse the Women’s Health section on our website.

Dawn Andalon, DPT, MTC, CPI

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