When should Postpartum Rehab start?
Your postpartum rehab starts right after you have given birth to your baby.
Whether your birth was a planned or unplanned C-section, or a vaginal birth with or without intervention – you can start gently helping your body to recover right after your baby was born. Even if you had a tear or episiotomy, even if you’re in pain: my gentle Postpartum Rehab Pilates programme focuses on restoring movement and blood flow to traumatised tissue and will aid recovery.
Breath, pelvic floor and stretches
The Postpartum Rehab Pilates exercises we will do together right after birth will focus on the following:
- helping you find a natural, functional breath pattern – after pregnancy, most women find it hard to breathe properly due to all the changes in their ribcage and abdomen.
- helping you find movement in your pelvic floor and connect that movement to your breath – ie learn to gently relax the pelvic floor on the inhale and gently contract on the exhale.
- gently start contracting the abdominal muscles, together with the pelvic floor and the breath – making sure that you can coordinate breath and muscular activation and release.
- gently stretch the upper body, shoulders and neck – looking after a small baby is so taxing and stressful, new mums accumulate a lot of tension and stress in their upper body, which can be relieved by gentle stretches.
Short online sessions
The sessions with me can be online until you are ready to leave the house and come to the studio. They can be short, 30-45 minutes in length, and you can do them lying on your bed with your baby by your side! At that point in the recovery process, no props are needed, and you don’t even need a mat.
What about waiting for the 6-week checkup?
You don’t have to wait for your 6-week check-up to start my gentle Postpartum rehab Pilates sessions. As mentioned above, the rehab exercises focus on helping the muscles heal and regain normal function, to help you move properly in your every day life.
While you should try to rest as much as you can after birth, and avoid exerting and exhausting yourself, you cannot stop moving altogether. Even with support at home, you will have to get out of bed, to walk a few steps, probably to go up and down stairs, to carry your baby. My gentle rehab exercises will help you perform all these movements safely, without putting pressure on sensitive areas or causing more damage to stretched muscles or tender tissue.
Not moving is never an option when recovering from physical trauma and birth is no exception – and yes birth, especially if there has been a medical intervention, is trauma for the body. However, reintroducing movement should be done gradually, starting with building a strong base first, to support more intense movement further in the recovery process.
At your 6-week checkup, your gyno will check that everything is fine deep inside, with your uterus and internal organs. They will not check that your muscles are healthy and functional, as that is not their job. No new mum has ever been asked to perform a pelvic tilt or abdominal roll-down to assess her breathing, core and pelvic floor control…
I have had many clients come to me completely confused, and rightly so, because they had been cleared to exercise by their gyno (based on what assessment? I wonder) but felt weird and weak and not ready at all to start exercising again.
Other tips to help recovery
After birth, the main piece of advice I have to give is: take it slowly!
If you can, spend as much time as you can in bed with your baby.
Get someone to cook nutritious food for you or order nutritious food rich in healthy fats and protein.
When you are ready, start walking – aim to take short walks, one, then two per day, and avoid long walks at first.
Wait at least two weeks before carrying your baby in the carrier and be mindful when walking with the carrier: don’t walk for too long, stop if it’s uncomfortable and rest by lying down and doing pelvic floor releases afterwards.
Drink plenty of water.
Enjoy the baby snuggles!