Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Reconnecting with Your Core after a Vaginal Birth

Core strength following a vaginal birth varies. Some women will have no problems reconnecting to their core postpartum where as others may feel like they are beginning from square one. Just like each pregnancy is unique, so is each postpartum recovery.

Rehabilitation of the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles is important for re-developing the strong core stability needed for parenting a new baby. It also reduces incontinence, prevents lower back ache and improves self-esteem. You can begin retraining your core on the day you give birth, but be sure to listen to your body. Here are some ideas to get you started!

Day 1
Kegels (seated, laying down, on all fours) 
Draw your vaginal muscles into your body, at the same time imagine shutting off the flow of urine and holding in a bowel movement to work the different muscles of the pelvic floor. Hold for 3-5 seconds each time, being sure to maintain steady breathing. Repeat 10-20 times.

Kegels + Belly Button Squeeze (seated, laying down, on all fours) 
Take a deep breathe in. As you exhale, draw your vaginal muscles into your body and then draw your belly button into your spine. Inhale and release. Repeat 10-20 times.

Days 2 – 3 Continue the above exercises, Adding on...
Heel Slides
Lay down with your legs lengthened, activate the pelvic floor (do a Kegel) and draw the belly into the spine. Bending the knee, lightly drag one heel towards the buttock, keeping the other leg relaxed and the hips level. Lengthen the heel back to the start position and repeat on the other side. Alternate sides for a total of 10-16 repetitions.

Pelvic Tilt
Lay on your back with your knees bent and the feet hip-width apart, activate the pelvic floor (do a Kegel). Lightly squeeze your glutes (your buttock muscles) together, flattening your back along the bed. Repeat 10-15 times.

Lay down with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor. Slowly peel your tail bone, sacrum, lower back, mid back, upper back off the ground. Slowly peel back down. Peel vertebrae by vertebrae. Engage your inner thighs, glutes and pelvic floor to get the most out of this exercise. Repeat 10-15 times.

After a couple of weeks, adding abdominal curls, reverse curls and plank exercises to your exercise regime is safe, provided that your healthcare provider gives you the green light! 

Note: If you are rehabilitating an abdominal separation (diastasis recti), stick with the exercises on this handout until your healthcare provider tells you otherwise.

Finding it difficult to stay disciplined with your pelvic floor exercises on your own? Feeling like you need more instruction and cues? You're in luck...there's an app for that! Download the Fit 4 Two-approved Pelvic Floor Trainer App and enjoy both visual and audio routines at your fingertips. 

Ready to try a Fit 4 Two class?  Contact your local Fit 4 Two Instructor for a pass to try a FREE class.

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