There are four muscles in our core and they all work together; your diaphragm, multifidus (deep back muscle), transverse abdominis and your pelvic floor. These muscles engage in anticipation of movement and any trauma to our pelvic floor and ligaments sustained during pregnancy and delivery may affect our continence and our ability to engage the core.
Our alignment, our posture and even our breathing can also impact whether we can connect with our core muscles. Once these have been self-assessed sometimes referral to a physio is needed before you can start to exercise again. There will be some muscles that are tight that will need stretching and others that will need strengthening again. All this takes time, but is so important.
Cardiovascular fitness is also a very important part of postnatal recovery. The fitter we are the easier it is to handle things, hence the importance of being as fit as you can before you have a baby. Going out for a walk everyday and getting in touch with nature will boost your mood and lift your spirits. To increase your fitness, go for a slightly longer walk every day or add in some hills.
What we eat has a huge impact on our recovery. Some good food choices are: protein to repair muscles, tendons and ligaments that have been stretched; fruits and vegetables that are red coloured have very good healing properties e.g. berries, red cabbage, red capsicum, and aubergines; green veggies are rich in vitamins and nutrients that help with healing; and drinking plenty of water is very important too.
Some things that will distract the body from healing are lack of sleep, anaemia (low iron), diabetes, sugar, smoking, an over-taxed liver and alcohol consumption. These things have a detrimental effect on your ability to regenerate tissue, heal and return to optimal health.
You are not super women and need to ask for help during this recovery period if you feel like you are struggling. Pull all of your resources and do whatever you can to look after yourself. You are important and have a massive job to undertake while you are still healing and recovering. This can take the best part of a year, so be informed and be kind to yourself.
Director | Personal Trainer for pregnant women, new mums, and mums with older children.