In the past my fitness levels were really quite high, especially compared to Jo Average. Even when I stepped back from rowing and started training less, I was still doing an above average amount. During my pregnancy I remained as active as I could; I was able to do quite a bit of cardio in the early days and as it progressed I made sure to walk as much as I was able.
It was quite common when rowing that I would have peaks and troughs in my fitness. It was always both tough and a good challenge when I had to try and build my fitness back up, such as after I hurt my arm. However, those recoveries were nothing like the challenge I feel I am facing now post pregnancy. My core has literally no strength.
I had my 6 – 8 week check the other day and that was my milestone for post-birth rest. But now I can exercise, I suddenly realised I don’t really know where to start. Many of my portfolio of exercises are going to be too much at this point. So, I hit the internet to see what is recommended.
There seem to be several key considerations from what I have read:
- Be careful – most of the relaxin in a woman’s body has usually gone about 6 weeks after birth. However, it can take several months for it to be gone completely, so in the early days extra care is needed to avoid over-stretching and straining muscles;
- It’s all about the pelvic floor – I’ve been advised to work my pelvic floor since having given birth, advice I have listened to. But of all exercises, this is one to absolutely keep doing forever and ever above any other core exercises;
- Work deep core muscles first – don’t jump straight back in to doing former core stability exercises until the underlying core muscles are strong again;
- Introduce high-impact exercises slowly – some articles I’ve read say to avoid high impact exercises, such as running, for 5 months (mainly because of the relaxin mentioned above). I class cycling and erging as being in the high impact category so whilst I don’t intend to wait 5 months, I need to make sure I don’t do too much too fast.
So my key focus for the next month or so is:
- Daily pelvic floor exercises (there is a handy free app from Tena which steps me through 6 ‘workouts’ a day);
- Daily walks of at least 30 mins with H in her buggy, unless the occasional walk has to be unavoidably missed;
- Daily deep core exercises taking approximately 10 – 15 minutes per day; or
- Some Aerobics, Tone and Stretch exercises on my Davina Post-Natal DVD a couple of times a week, H permitting!
I have been doing 1 and 2 for a few weeks. I managed to do some core exercises yesterday (3) and even found time for a Davina workout (4) today. So things are heading in the right direction! It will be interesting to see if, in a months time, I can notice any difference!