Top Tips For New Mums After A C-Section
Many new mums avoid all exercise in the months after a birth, especially after a C-section
Perhaps this is in the belief that it will cause too much strain on their bodies - and exercise may be quite a scary prospect after this procedure. According to celebrity fitness expert, Jane Dowling, this is not the case at all. After years of personally training new mums, Jane is divulging some of her expert advice on exercising after a C-section.
Up to 6 weeks after the birthIt is not advisable to do any 'specific' dynamic exercises for 6 weeks, and yes, you need to be gentle because of the wound - but it is important to start to gently get the circulation going to help heal the wound.
At this initial stage, it is best to be very careful with the movements that you perform - especially with lifting, which is hard if this isn't your first baby.
When lying down, try some deep breathing exercises. Do your pelvic floor exercises (see below) as early as possible as this will help to heal the nerve damage; the earlier you fire up your nervous system, the earlier the muscles in this area will be more responsive to exercise.
Think about how you move around, especially when getting out of bed - keep your knees together and roll onto your side, using your arms to push yourself up. Try and keep the baby close to you so you can nurse easily. If you are not breastfeeding, try to get someone to help prepare the feeds and bring them to you.
When you feel up to it, try some gentle walking 2 to 3 times per day, concentrating on good posture. You will be inclined to stoop because of the scar but make sure you stand upright and keep your chest tall and shoulders back.
After 6 weeksAfter 6 weeks, gentle exercise can usually be resumed, but it is very important to get an 'OK' from your health professional before undertaking any exercise programme.
The Power Plate is a fantastic way to resume exercise as it is totally low impact and is very gentle. Following nerve damage, the vibrations help to 'wake up' the neuromuscular system therefore speeding up the recovery process - both in the muscles regaining strength and in aiding the healing of the incision. In addition, the massage applications of the Power Plate can help with the sore lower backs of new mums.
Pelvic floor muscles are often overstretched and weakened during pregnancy so exercises to strengthen them are crucial.
Slow - Imagine pulling up to stop wind or to stop yourself having a wee; slowly pull up and hold for a couple of seconds before slowly lowering. Gradually increase the length of hold as you become stronger.
Quick - Pull up inside quickly but release slowly. Repeat several times as much as possible throughout the day. Try and associate doing these exercises with doing something that is part of your daily routine: for example, waiting at traffic lights, turning on the kettle, or something similar.
The stomach is another key area on which to focus after childbirth - try these light exercises:
1. Sit on the edge of a hard chair. Lengthen the spine, pull the shoulders back and rib cage up. Pull the tummy button into the spine, hold for a couple of seconds and then release. Remember it may feel frustrating at first as you may not feel as if you have control. Try and do this for at least a minute to begin with. As you start to feel stronger, lift one leg at a time, alternating then relaxing the tummy; then repeat.
2. Lying on your side with your knees bent and head rested on your arm, gently pull the tummy in towards the spine and hold for 6 seconds; repeat 6 times. Do the same on the other side.
1. Perform ab crunches as this will compromise your lower back and make the tummy dome outwards; it will not get you a flat tummy.
2. Do any impact work: it is not a good idea when relaxin is still present in your body as it affects not only the pelvic floor but your ligaments as well. Therefore, the ligaments are not supporting the joints effectively during this type of exercise - they are like weak elastic. You may not feel the immediate effect but you must think of the long-term effects on your knees, lower back and pelvic floor.
More InfoJane Dowling originally trained in the medical/rehabilitation field; she then became a personal trainer popular with both the rich and the celebrity, including several A-list actors.