The most difficult job in the world...
Pregnancy and childbirth can pose difficulties for the whole family, but for new Mothers there are so very many changes and challenges with which to contend.
In the postpartum period there can be a whole host of physiological and lifestyle changes that can affect someone and these can make exercising very difficult:
A lack of time
Issues with childcare
A lack of advice from health professionals.
And any number of other potential roadblocks.
But there are so many benefits of exercise after pregnancy...
Assistance with weight loss
Restoring abdominal strength
Maintaining bone density
Reducing anxiety and post natal depression
Quickening recovery from pregnancy and childbirth
My Postnatal Pilates classes are specifically designed for new Mums and their babies. I would normally recommend that six weeks have passed before you join a class.
Exercises I would normally use in my regular Pilates classes are modified and adapted to cater for the kind of physiological changes that take place to a woman's body after pregnancy and childbirth.
The classes are also tailored for you and your baby so they can feel involved and you can learn how to exercise with them during that vital first year when leaving them alone isn't really an option!
How to join my classes
I will always assess every potential class member before they join one of my courses. This is important for anyone wishing to start or rejoin a Pilates class, but it is even more important after pregnancy and childbirth given the complex physiological changes that can happen in your body.
The assessment provides the opportunity to talk through how the pregnancy and big day went, as well as how you have been faring since. Although I usually suggest a six week period to have elapsed before starting a class, the assessment can be within this timeframe if necessary.
There will also be a physical assessment that will look at some of your basic movements and core strength (see below for more information and a video overview of retraining the pelvic floor), as well as introducing the Pilates Key Elements and how they play a role in exercise.
The assessments take place at my Physiotherapy Clinic in the Oxford Science Park (see here for full details), will last approximately one hour and cost £40. The Pilates courses are usually 5 or 6 weeks in length, and will work out at £10 per class when paid for as a course. The classes will take place in the beautiful Church Hall in Iffley Village at 1030 on Friday mornings.
Dates for your diary…
July 26th, Aug’ 2nd, 9th, 16th - 4 WEEK COURSE
Sept’ 13th, 20th, 27th, Oct, 4th, 11th, 18th, 25th - 7 WEEK COURSE
Nov’ 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th, Dec 6th, 13th, 20th - 7 WEEK COURSE
Some general tips and guidelines about exercising in the postpartum period…
The main point with regard to exercising post-natally is that you should only gradually resume exercise as soon as it is medically safe to do so. Conservatively, and in general, within the first 0-6 weeks that would include:
Pelvic floor muscle retraining as soon as you have passed urine for the first time (see the video below)
Gentle exercise e.g. walking, pelvic tilts, transversus abdominis retraining
Gentle muscle toning
All of the above can commence as soon as is comfortable in uncomplicated pregnancies.
Weeks 6-12 would typically include:
Progressive pelvic floor exercises
Low impact exercises
Gradually increasing an aerobic component to an exercise programme
From 3 months onwards:
Further pelvic floor and transversus abdominis training
High intensity training
Moderate to high intensity impact as long as there are no signs of incontinence (ligamentous laxity can persist for a further 2 months)
Things you have to be aware of immediately post partum are:
Lochia persisting for 4-6 weeks
That there will often be an episode of heavy bleeding between days 7 and 14
The uterus takes approximately 6 weeks to go back to size
Presence of diastasis
It is also worth bearing in mind that it will also take about 3 months for your soft tissues to heal up well, and approximately 6 months if there was any perineal tearing during delivery.
What is my pelvic floor?
How does it work? What does it do?
If you want to stand the best chance of retraining muscles after childbirth then it is really important to understand where they are, how they work, and how you can feel whether you are using them correctly. This video from Pelvic Floor First is a great tool to start that process and I am delighted they gave me permission to use it. Happy learning!