Returning to exercise after pregnancy

As a physio and Pilates instructor who has been actively engaged in classes for many years, I never would have thought it would be so difficult to return to my pre pregnancy body and fitness.

Two years on from having my beautiful boy I am only just feeling now like a glimpse of the old me.

The first challenge is recovery from the tolls of pregnancy and labour.

Even once the baby has been safely delivered, the body works to rapidly readjust itself.

The uterus contracts to reduce in size and relocate itself completely within the pelvis.

There is a reduction in the extra fluids that built up during pregnancy, as well as significant hormonal changes occurring.

Having rectus diastasis (separation of the abdominal musculature) from my pregnancy I was very diligent with my abdominal and pelvic floor exercises post partum… well for the first few months anyway, and then like every new mum experiences, time gets away from you (as does the odd trickle of urine) and you find focusing on your own needs becomes less of a priority.

Furthermore once finally able to return to mild exercise around the 6-8 week mark, exhaustion had well and truly kicked in and I found myself totally demotivated and trying to achieve only the smallest of tasks for each day.

Once I finally started to feel like taking care of myself again the next battle of finding the time or a babysitter, to allow me to exercise arose.

After the first year juggling a baby and part time work I was finally able to commit to regular exercise again.

I was then faced with that same initial challenge of complete lack of abdominal and pelvic floor strength and decided that Pilates was my best option for exercise.

Being predominantly non-weight bearing and low impact, Pilates allowed me to regain function in my abs and pelvic floor so I could then return to aerobic exercise.

Pilates exercises that were once simple had become almost impossible but this only motivated me further.

It has taken nearly 2 years for me to return to aerobic exercise (without feeling like I’m going to wet myself!) and I continue to participate additionally in Pilates classes on a regular basis to maintain the strength in my pelvic floor and abdominal musculature.

Kelly Laing is a McKenzie Credentialed Physiotherapist, who also runs Clinical Pilates and Over 60s classes at our clinic in Ashburton. We service surrounding suburbs such as Camberwell, Glen Waverly and Camberwell with post natal and post pregnancy care