At Fit Pregnancy Club (FPC), New York City's premier gym for pregnant and postpartum moms, we firmly believe that it takes more than waiting six weeks to get back into exercise after birth. In reality, your body’s “critical healing period” ranges from 12-14 weeks post birth. Jumping back into your pre-pregnancy routine too soon can lead to problems like diastasis recti, injuries, and pelvic floor dysfunction.
Here are three important things to consider before returning to your workout after pregnancy:
- The connective tissue called the linea alba has been stretched to its max in order to accommodate your growing abdomen for an extended period of time. (That’s the softness you feel down the center of your core post birth.) After something has been stretched, it’s compromised and needs time to heal. If you go back to traditional crunches and strengthening the rectus abdominus and obliques too soon, you risk abdominal separation, or diastasis recti. Instead, continue to strengthen your inner core (transverse abdominus, pelvic floor, diaphragm and multifidus muscles) unit until you reach the end of your critical healing period.
- The same goes for the muscles in your pelvic floor! This complex grid of muscles has been holding the weight of your uterus, placenta, baby, and organs throughout pregnancy without rest. Depending on the type of birth you had, cesareans (a c-section recovery is hard on your pelvic floor), or if you had tearing or an episiotomy, it all affects the integrity of the pelvic floor.
- The hormone Relaxin is another consideration. It stays in our system for up to four months after you finish lactating. Relaxin is the hormone that loosens our ligaments and tends to make our joints a little unstable. HIIT workouts or fast moving classes that aren’t approached with mindfulness can increase your risk of injury because of the presence of relaxin.
The best gift you could give to yourself post pregnancy is to find an experienced pre/postnatal exercise specialist to help ease you back into your pre-pregnancy routine. We also recommend seeing a pelvic floor specialist to get an assessment and schedule some sessions rehabbing the muscles of your pelvic floor.
If you're in the New York City area, you can check out our live classes at FPC, Fit Pregnancy Club, in NYC at 552 Broadway. For tips and information, follow us on Instagram at @fpc.nyc and online at www.fpc-nyc.com.
Joanie Johnson, is a mom and co-founder of FPC. She’s a certified pre- and postnatal corrective exercise specialist, certified diastasis and core consultant, personal trainer, pilates instructor and holds a BA in Dance.