As part of the process of helping a new mother to feel better about herself after the birth of her baby, post natal exercise is recommended and can be started as early as 2 to 3 days after the birth.
Such exercises should be quite mild to start with and can even be done while you are performing other tasks either sitting or standing. Here are some suggestions:
• Walk your baby in the pram rather than use the car for short trips.
• Rest in a horizontal position (15 to 30 minutes at least twice a day) or as much as possible on your tummy or your back.
• Support the perineum while having a bowel movement.
• Do not lift anything heavier than your baby.
• While sitting, press knees and inner thighs together hard. Contract the vaginal muscles as tightly as possible. Hold for 6 counts. Repeat 3 times. This will tone the inner thigh and tighten the vaginal passage.
• Kegel exercises, which help regain control in urinating by strengthening the pelvic floor area, can be done when you are sitting , standing or even walking. Squeeze the muscles of the pelvic floor as if you are holding back urination. Hold this for 20 counts Repeat 20 times during the day.
• Another exercise can be done whilst you are waiting for something. In a standing position, flex both knees very slightly, placing the hands on the buttocks. With one sudden sharp movement, contract the buttocks hard (as if trying to squeeze them together). Hold for 4 slow counts while continuing to tighten and grip harder. Relax and straighten the knees. Repeat 4 times. Once you have got the feel of the sharp hard contraction, you need not place the hands on the buttocks.
• To exercise the abdominal muscles, lie on your back with your knees bent. (a) Tighten your tummy muscles by pulling your tummy button in and upwards towards your spine. Hold for 5 counts. Try to breathe normally. Rest and then repeat 5 times. (b) Tighten tummy muscles as above, then flatten lower back, tucking bottom under and tilting pelvis towards ribs. Repeat 5 times holding for 3 counts while breathing normally. Gradually increase the number of exercises to 10 times holding for 10 counts.
Do not attempt to do sit ups before your 6 weeks checkup. After 12 weeks have elapsed, you can check your pelvic floor strength by these tests:
• Stop the flow of urine mid stream
• Coughing with a full bladder
• Prior to commencing strenuous exercise, check your pelvic floor strength by jumping with a full bladder.