I often receive questions about how early mums can start doing core exercises and which exercises I would recommend for early post- birth. So here are my thoughts in a blog.
Firstly there are some exercises which you can start before your 6 week check up with your doctor. Not just “can” but you actually “should” start doing before doctor’s clearance to help your body heal and start reconnecting with your muscles.
How you breathe can have an impact on your pelvic floor (PF) and your diastasis healing. Normally when exhaling your diaphragm should be elevating and abdominal wall, PF and lower back should be tensioning in coordination with your diaphragm. During pregnancy when baby is growing it is pushing more and more on your diaphragm, which inhibits how deep you can breathe. By the end of your pregnancy this can cause dysfunction in diaphragm lifting which means we can’t breathe properly. Often after childbirth we keep breathing the same way. Your PF works in coordination with your diaphragm, so if your diaphragm is not working properly your PF won’t be either! Bad breathing will increase pressure in your abdomen and will have a negative impact on rehabilitation of your PF and diastasis. That’s why it’s very important to re-establish/re-train your breathing patterns ASAP, before you start any exercise.
Below video shows simple breathing exercise which you can do even couple of days post-birth if you feel like it.
When talking about breathing I need to mention how important it is to coordinate your breathing with PF lifts. You should lift your PF as you exhale however many mums do it the other way round. Another exercise for you to do (which I mention in the video) is to practice coordinating your breathing with your PF lifts.
2. Glute bridge
Strong glutes and PF are best friends! Strong glutes can even help to prevent PF dysfunction. They help with your body alignment and good alignment will give the PF optimal support.
Below exercises not only work your glutes but also your transverse abdominal muscles (as per video early post birth starts with just ball squeezes. You can even use this exercise to practice your breathing and PF lifts co-ordination). You can start doing this exercise couple weeks post-birth.
3. Heel slides
Traditional abdominal exercises are a NO NO early post-birth! They build pressure in your abdomen and if your muscles are not strong enough to withhold that pressure this can cause incontinence or even prolapse and will prevent your abdominal separation from healing (or even will make it worse). The below exercise is safe as it won’t build that intra-abdominal pressure and will help you to reconnect with your core muscles. You can start doing it couple weeks post birth.
Before you start any core exercise, make sure you can activate your transverse abdominal muscles as you can’t strengthen a muscle you can’t activate. Below video shows you how to do this.
Also check this video, which demonstrates how to check if you have an abdominal separation.
*Please note you might have adjust quality of the videos manually at the bottom right corner of each video.