Apr 27th, 2015 / Nicki Chick
New mothers are under more pressure than ever to ‘bounce back’ after birth
Amy Lewis writes for the Mail Online on 24th April 2015
With celebrities appearing to magically snap back into shape mere weeks after giving birth, there’s
increasing pressure on new mums to get their pre-pregnancy body back quicker than ever.
The Duchess of Cambridge, who is due to give birth any day now, was applauded for her natural
approach to her post-birth figure, when she had Prince George in 2013.
Experts agree that carefully easing the body back into exercise is the best method and Camilla
Lawrence, women’s health physiotherapist at Six Physio, tells MailOnline how to get your body back
to its pre-pregnancy shape – safely.
According to Camilla, a women’s health specialist most women are left with dozens of questions
post-birth, about what is and isn’t safe for them to do.
Even after their six week GP check-up, many don’t know how soon they can start to exercise, if they
want to, and what they should avoid.
The confusion and lack of trusted information can leave some women baffled as to how celebrities
could ever do it, and others too afraid to even try.
But according to Camilla, following these simple steps can get new mums on the right track.
GET YOUR BODY ASSESSED BY AN EXPERT
Getting assessed by an expert will enhance your entire postnatal experience, says Camilla.
A full assessment of your back and pelvis, posture, and pelvic floor and abdominal muscle function
will identify areas which are recovering and areas of weakness or tension.
These areas all affect your sleep quality, bonding with your baby, sexual function and getting back to
normal levels of activity exercise postpartum.
DON’T SUFFER INCONTINENCE IN SILENCE
Some 30 per cent of women have ongoing urinary incontinence post pregnancy, admits Camilla, and
50 per cent have some form of prolapse after childbirth.
This is caused by weakness or tension in the pelvic floor muscles from pregnancy and child birth.
However the good news is that this can be treated. So women are advised not to suffer in silence out
of embarrassment or fear. Consult your GP or a health expert, and get some advice.
DON’T ASSUME BACK PAIN IS NORMAL
Around 40 to 60 per cent of postpartum women complain of ongoing back and pelvic pain following
pregnancy, says Camilla.
But while common, this pain should never be seen as ‘normal’.
If your pain is not settling by itself within one week of giving birth, then seek a specialist therapist for
treatment she advises.
PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES ARE VITAL
According to Camilla, 30 per cent of women who try to contract their pelvic floor muscles, do so
incorrectly. Common mistakes include tensing the buttocks and thighs, instead of the pelvic floor
muscles, and breath holding.
At best this will mean your pelvic floor strength won’t improve, at worst it could mean that you
could actually be straining and weakening your pelvic floor further.
But it’s not just muscle weakness you need to be aware of. In some women, the pelvic floor also
becomes ‘overactive’ or over-tense (like a muscle spasm).
In this instance, Kegel pelvic floor exercises can actually be detrimental and worsen the spasm,
causing symptoms of pain, urgency and difficulty emptying the bladder or bowels.
This is why it’s so important to seek instruction from an expert, warns Camilla.
CORRECT YOUR POSTURE EARLY ON
Be smart when loving your new baby, says Camilla. Simple actions such as feeding, changing, bathing
and soothing your baby can all put unwelcome pressure on your back and pelvis.
A few top tips she suggests are to try not to lift anything heavier than your baby for the first six
weeks, and think about your posture and body position.
Try to keep your tummy muscles gently engaged and your pelvis directly under your shoulders when
soothing your baby.
DON’T HAVE SEX UNTIL YOU’RE READY
When to have sex again is the big question! It is important to remember that everyone is different,
says Camilla, and there’s no normal time to resume your sex life.
A survey carried out by nct.org.uk has shown that 29 per cent of women had resumed sex within a
month of their baby’s birth, and almost 60 per cent within eight weeks.
This left 40 per cent who took longer, with a further three per cent of women who took over a year.
The most important thing is to wait until you are physically and emotionally ready.
TAKE YOUR RETURN TO EXERCISE SLOW
Hormones during pregnancy and breast feeding may put you at increased risk of injury.
The hormone relaxin increases the flexibility of your soft tissues and joints, and can remain in the
body for up to six months after delivery, making you prone to joint strains or sprains.
The hormones produced when breast feeding can also have an effect on your soft tissues which is
why it is important to really build up your muscle strength and core stability before you return to
high impact exercise like running or aerobics.
START WITH LOW IMPACT EXERCISE
This will address the areas that you will be weak in such as your core (including tummy muscles),
your back and glutes.
Try to leave six weeks after your delivery (or up to eight weeks after a C-section) before starting lowimpact
cardio exercise such as swimming or using a cross trainer.
Accompanying this with core-strengthening and conditioning work such as postnatal Pilates and light
weights will help you rebuild muscles.
According to Women’s Weekly Zara Tindall claims she got her post-baby body thanks to ‘weighttraining’
runs by pushing newborn Mia in her buggy.
HOLD OFF ON HIGH IMPACT EXERCISE FOR THREE MONTHS
You can go back to being a gym-bunny says Camilla, but advises that you first optimise your core
strength and control before re-starting high-impact exercise, such as jogging, running, aerobics or
Ensure you are pain free before gradually getting back to this around three months after delivery.
The Duchess of Cambridge wasn’t spotted doing exercise until she took part in a volley ball match
three months after George’s birth.