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Do you have questions about exercise after child birth?

Exercise after child birth?

Do you have some questions about exercise after child birth? When do you start, which exercises are best, how hard to you go, etc. Here is the top 6 questions asked.

Exercise after child birth questions

Question 1: If you’ve been inactive for a long period, is it best to ease back into exercise or to throw yourself into it with gusto? Does this depend on the reason for the break?

Answer: Definitely easing back is a better option for the body as it conditions it rather than putting it into shock and stress. An example of this stress can be DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) that is so bad that you can hardly move and/or persists more than 1-2 days.  Progressive build up is also less stressful on the weakest parts of the body like the connective tissue e.g. tendons and ligaments which take longer to recover than muscles. As far as maintaining an exercise program, it is almost completed related to a client’s mindset and motivations. Some clients do very well throwing themselves at an exercise program but they tend to be the minority. Behavioural research suggests a progressive approach is more successful for lasting long term change.  I know that if a client is injured when they are re-start an exercise habit, they rarely return.

Question 2: If a mum was very fit and active prior to her exercise break, can she simply pick up where she left off or would she still need to take a more cautious approach? How long does ‘muscle memory’ last?

Answers: Taking a cautious approach is a safer option especially exercise after child birth as it reduces the shock/stress and possible injury to body. The suggested phasing in period will always depend on the client’s previous strength and fitness level, length of time away and any medical injury or cause for the break. As an example – a new mum that has had a natural birth with no complications and a strong fitness background can start light exercise such as walking and core based exercises within 2 weeks versus a mum who has had a C-section with complications and a limited fitness background.  They could be looking at a minimum period of 12 weeks to return to exercise after child birth. Individual assessments are critical in determine the timing, type, quantity and intensity of the exercise.

Question 3:  In your opinion, what would be an ideal ‘get back into it’ workout program for a) a mum whose break has been less than six months, and b) a mum whose break has been six months or more? (In terms of how often she should work out, and what types of activity would be suitable.)

Answer: Generally, you would approach both groups very similarly with a phase in period to improve core strength first and some light walking and then accelerate into more normal activities depending on the clients preferences and previous exercise and sporting history. The difference would be in how quickly you would accelerate to normal and advanced exercise after child birth. Those with a shorter break will improve quicker and we can increase the FITT eg Frequency, Intensity, Type and Timing vs those with an extended break.

Question 4:  If a mum’s exercise hiatus was after child birth, how important is it that she start off slowly to accommodate the changes and stress her body has gone through?

Answer: I am glad you raised this question.  After childbirth the body has gone through significant stress and trauma so starting slowly is very important.  Also consider that a new Mum is experiencing more mental stress from being responsible for and looking after a new baby, more physical stress from breast feeding and recovering from birth, all on reduced quality and quantity of sleep.  These all combine to have a large impact on her recovery abilities. Another consideration is that a woman’s body can still have Relaxin (a hormone that softens the tissue and bones) in the system for up to 12 months after childbirth.  We also need to factor in comfort for larger breast sizes while breastfeeding so running might not have the same appeal. On a side note the Australian Breast Feeding Association says “Moderate exercise is beneficial and will not affect volume or composition of breastmilk or affect infant growth” although maximal exercise will increase milk lactic acid levels.

Question 5 : You mentioned focusing on core strength – why is this so important, particularly for mums whose break was due to pregnancy and childbirth?

Answer: For mum’s exercise after child birth, core strength is the most important priority. The core muscles are the foundation of every movement and they are the very muscles that have been stretched and weakened during pregnancy and child birth.  The initial priorities are the pelvic floor, TA (Transverse Abdominals) and the lower abdominal muscles that are so important in postural and spinal stability.

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Question 6:  I sometimes hear mums who have had a long hiatus from exercise after child birth they say they feel they’ve left it ‘too late’ to ever be fit and healthy again – do you also encounter this attitude? What’s your response to it? Is it ever ‘too late’?

Answer: It is never too late. I have started coaching clients who were 80 years old, disabled, diseased, depressed, divorced, significantly overweight and injured, all with great results. The harsh reality is that we make reasons or excuses not to do something that is going to make us uncomfortable or overwhelmed.  This is human nature but ultimately it comes down to the reasons to change and our belief that we can change.

If you are in the local area of Wishart, Mansfield, Mt Gravatt, Mackenzie, Carindale, and Eight Mile Plains in the southside of Brisbane and wanting more information on our services, you can go our webpage – or call Cameron on 0406 451 907.

We also offer pilates classes, which are ideal for returning mums. Ask us for a Free Pilates Trial

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Proudly published in Kidspot in April 2016

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