What you thought your body would look and feel like post-pregnancy and the reality of it are two completely different things. Words such as “disconnected,” “lost” and “unmotivated” will sum up those first few months postpartum. But don’t lose sight of what is really going on. There’s work to do and the longer you put it off, the harder it is to tackle.
Whether you gave birth vaginally or via C-section, there are a lot of changes that occur and (let’s be honest) “damage done.” Even if you trained throughout your pregnancy, the changes don’t magically disappear after baby is born so you need to refocus and not lose all that you have worked so hard for.
Pregnancy and delivery not only stretch you (in ways you couldn’t imagine), but shift, pull and push, resulting in a loss of function, connection and stability all around. The strain of pregnancy on your physical and physiological systems might leave you feeling hopeless initially, but that doesn’t have to be the end.
A growing uterus with added weight can leave you with incontinence, hip and back pain and pelvic disorders. Add labour and delivery and those conditions could be exacerbated or worse, leave you with a prolapse. Caesarean sections require the muscles, tendons and nerve endings to be cut, so trying to “connect” and retrain those muscles might feel next to impossible.
The sooner you get on top of it, the better. Muscles have a memory. If you trained during your pregnancy, these muscles will recruit and activate a lot quicker and efficiently than if you had not. But don’t let this discourage you. If you sailed through your pregnancy on the promise of good genes and now feel the result of your hard work, later is certainly better than never.
If you had a vaginal delivery, there is no rule that says you can’t start moving around within a few weeks if you feel good. Don’t sign up for the nearest bootcamp or go to the gym and start pushing yourself, but start with a good walk around the neighbourhood and increase with your own comfort level. There is no cookie-cutter approach but any exercise at all (even 5-10 minutes a day) will get the blood moving and working the muscles so the healing and “connecting” can begin.
If you have had a C-section, it’s also recommended to get up and walk around as soon as you are able. Start with around the block and increase 2-3 minutes per week.
As for a structured strength training routine; whether it’s a vaginal or caesarean birth, I recommend waiting for the green light from your doctor/OBGYN and your pelvic floor physiotherapist.
In the end, like anything else, the sooner you send those messages to your muscles, the sooner that neurological system will wake up, recruit and start to heal. So while you are waiting, there’s no reason why you can’t lie in that hospital bed and start working on that pelvic floor. Kegels anyone?