Why rehabilitate the body after having a baby?
Targeted postnatal rehabilitation programs present the opportunity to reverse the deconditioning caused by pregnancy (1). Appropriate exercise prescription can restore stability and strength, as well as prevent weakness in the pelvic floor, abdominal wall and pelvis later in life (2). Benefits of appropriate postnatal exercise are (1,3,4):
- Improved core and lumbopelvic strength and stability
- Improved trunk mobility and flexibility
- Reduction in upper-back, lower-back and pelvic pain
- Improved posture
- Reduction in diastasis recti (abdominal separation)
- Reduction in maternal physical discomforts
- Increased cardiovascular fitness
- Increased energy
- Reduction in tiredness and fatigue
- Improved pelvic floor strength and function
- Reduction in urinary incontinence
- Improved wellbeing, self-esteem and body image
- Reduction in depression symptoms
Postnatal exercise considerations
The body has undergone nine months of physical and physiological changes and these do not reverse overnight. Typically, these changes persist for four to six weeks following delivery; however some adaptations can last for up to six months (3). Incorrect exercises can aggravate and exasperate postpartum symptoms and discomforts, potentially leaving new mothers with unnecessary pain and dysfunction (2). Self-monitoring of the exercise intensity and fatigue levels is recommended. Adequate hydration and calorie consumption is important, particularly if breastfeeding. A supportive bra to stabilize the breasts is recommended and nurse prior to exercise to avoid engorgement discomfort. For more information, contact LifeQuest Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation today!
Sources: 1. Kawaguchi, J.K. (2010). The pregnant athlete, part 3: Exercise in the postpartum period and return to play. Athletic Therapy Today, 15 (4), 36-41. 2. Swanson, S. (2001). Abdominal muscles in pregnancy and the postpartum period. International Journal of Childbirth Education, 16(4), 12-14. 3. Larson-Meyer D.E. (2003). The effects of regular postpartum exercise on mother and child. International SportMed Journal, 4(6), 1-14. 4. Dinc, A., Beji, N.K, Yalcin, O. (2009). Effect of pelvic floor muscle exercises in the treatment of urinary incontinence during pregnancy and the postpartum period. International Urogynecology Journal, 20, 1223-1231.