Many women are keen to return to their pre-pregnancy exercise routines following the birth. We recommend commencing Pilates following your six-week post-natal check from your doctor, and following a post-natal assessment with a Women’s Health and Continence Physiotherapist. See our fact sheet titled Postnatal Period for further information on this.
In the early postnatal period, your body will be gradually recovering from the birth regardless of whether it was a vaginal or caesarean delivery. During this time we recommend gentle walking, plus a focus on the pelvic floor muscles and deep abdominal muscles.
Postnatal Pilates programs will be individualised and depend on focus areas identified for each woman. Common considerations in the postnatal period are:
- Ability to activate the pelvic floor muscles, including any sign and symptoms which may indicate pelvic floor muscle dysfunction. Prescription of any abdominal exercise should take into account the state of the pelvic floor muscles.
- Presence of a rectus abdominis diastasis, which means that any abdominal muscle exercises must be modified, and the diastasis regularly checked to ensure it is resolving satisfactorily.
- Any lower back or pelvic girdle pain which will require specific exercises for the lumbo-pelvic region.
- Postural habits, as generally so much time is spent caring for a new baby in a flexed forward position possibly contributing to pain and dysfunction in the neck, upper back and shoulders, as well as the lumbo-pelvic region. Exercises to assist with improving posture may also be incorporated into a Pilates program.
A postnatal Pilates exercise program is recommended to help prepare you for more strenuous activities. Your Pilates Physiotherapist, in conjunction with your Women’s Health and Continence Physiotherapist, will monitor your general strength and guide you to a return to previous activities.