Ok, so you’ve had your darling baby but holy God your back is wrecked! Now you are constantly picking baba up, bending forward, feeding, rounding your back and probably are noticing that your core tummy muscles have somewhat disappeared. What can you do?
Let’s not panic and recognize first off just what an amazing body you have and that we need to treat it with some respect! So slowly slowly is the name of the game.
The strength of your back depends on so many things – how your pregnancy was, number of pregnancies you have had, how much weight you put on, how strong your core muscles were pre & during your pregnancy, how fit you were and are now, and how long it has been since you gave birth.
In order to start back exercising, make sure you have GP clearance. If you have suffered from any form of Pelvic Disorder during pregnancy or have any Pelvic Trauma post birth, you must go to a Physiotherapist before you start exercising again. Also if you feel there is an enormous gap in the tummy muscles, then be sure to get a check for Diastasis Recti.
Regardless of your birth there are 3 simple things that every Mama can do in the early days after birth:
1. Belly Breathing – place two hands onto your belly and inhale fully and deeply so that your hands lift up gently, and breathe out long and slow. On the exhale, ensure you fully squeeze out every last bit of air, and draw the belly inwards. Breathe like this with the eyes closed for 5 minutes.
2. Focus on correct posture – sit on a birthing ball with your feet firmly on the floor and tilt the pelvis forward and backwards a few times until you feel like you are in a ‘neutral’ position. In other words you are neither sticking your bum out, nor tucking under the tailbone. Sit with a tall spine and ensure your shoulders are moving downwards. Slightly draw in your belly. This is also a good position to practice the Belly Breathing in.
3. Engage and release your pelvic floor muscles. You can do this alongside the Belly Breathing.
Once you feel a little stronger, you can then move on to my favourite post-natal exercise…the plank! You can do plank on your elbows or on your hands. You need to ensure you aren’t dipping your lower back down or sticking the bum up in the air.
Hold for a few seconds, shoulders on top of wrists and heels pushing away from you. Then rest on the knees. If full plank is too much and you feel downwards pressure in the abdomen, just start on the knees, and pull the belly in, engaging the pelvic floor muscles at the same time.
Aim to build your plank up to holding for 30 seconds. Once you have done a few planks, you can stretch out the back and the hamstrings in a downward facing dog.
Please share this and tag your friends who might find it useful! Take a look at my 5 - Week Online Postnatal Recovery Program. If you think you have Diastasis Recti, check out my Diastasis Recti Restore Program, which is a series of 10 simple and progressive exercises designed to help close your abdominal gap, which will then make you feel strong again and have your body working correctly and functioning as it should do, to support you.
Helen Plass is a Pre & Postnatal Fitness Specialist, and Yoga Instructor, working with women and their birthing partners to achieve a comfortable, healthy & happy journey into Pregnancy, birth and Motherhood. She is known for her very practical & non-judgmental approach to pregnancy and the crazy times of motherhood. Check out all her communication at NurtureMamas.com, and if you are in Ireland, her local business MumandBaby.ie