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Rebuilding Your Core After Delivery (2)

Published by Guardian on Sun, 18 Dec 2011

Importance Of BreathingONCE the baby is born, your body undergoes a dramatic change in a very short period of time. The skin and muscles that were firm over the belly are now loose and jelly-like and can lack the neuromuscular awareness to work properly. This is why it is so important to use breathing techniques that shorten the abdominal wall to its previous length like we learnt last week.As you inhale, your chest and stomach should expand; as you exhale, your chest and stomach should flatten. This concept is important when retraining your core after birth. The muscles in your belly must shorten before they can be strengthened. Exhaling while pulling your abs in shortens and strengthens them with each outward breath.How Early Is Too Early'Many women want to resume intense exercise as soon after birth as possible, before their abdominal muscles or pelvic floor are ready. However, this may lead to incontinence problems and prolonged back pain. If you had been working out before you had your baby (and during pregnancy) and had a natural birth, you should be able to get back to working out in about a month. If you had a caesarean session, you need to wait at least 3-4 months before you can get back. However, whichever method you did go through, you need to get the all-clear from your doctor as all bodies and deliveries are different and heal differently.Proper nutrition and a gradual return to other forms of exercise like walking, jogging and strength training are just as important in restoring the body to its pre-pregnancy state. You'll never see a 'six pack' if a layer of fat overlays it, so, you really need to burn off the fat through cardio. Weight loss and fitness take patience, time, and discipline; if things are pushed too soon, other problems can arise. It can take three-six months to return to a pre-pregnancy state ' sometimes longer ' so don't give up!Caesarean DeliveryAs promised last week, if you had a caesarean delivery, below are some exercises you can start with.' HuffingThis is important if general anaesthesia was used ' it helps clear mucous out of the throat and lungs. Take quick forceful outward breaths while tightening the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles.' Ankle/Foot MovementsDraw circles with your right foot, initiating from your ankle. Repeat in the opposite direction then the other left ankle. Thishelps prevent blood clots after anaesthesia.' Pelvic TiltWhile lying on your back with your knees bent, tilt your pelvis backward (bring your lower back flat to the floor) as you tighten your abs and exhale. Try to bring your belly button to your backbone as you push your low back into the mattress/floor. Hold for five seconds, inhale, and relax.' Bridge With A Twist*While hips are elevated, drop one hip toward mat, then the other, so that you are gently twisting your hips. This helps reduce gas pain as well as working your core. The basic bridges: Lying on your back with knees bent, contract your abdominal, buttock, and pelvic floor muscles, and raise hips up off the floor. Hold for five seconds and relax down slowly. The farther your feet are from your buttocks the more challenging it will be. Bridging can also be progressed by lifting one leg while up in bridge position ' but you must be able to keep hips level to do this.' Kegels(Pelvic floor contractions): Can be done in any position. Tighten and hold for five seconds. Do several times a day' Active posture checkStanding ' tuck your chin in to elongate the neck, pull your shoulders down and back, tighten your abdominal muscles while pulling your belly into your backbone, tighten your pelvic floor, keep knees soft, and increase the arch in your foot.Both Vaginal And Cesarean DeliveriesMove on to exercises listed below as you get stronger.' Single Leg LoweringLying on your back with knees bent, do a pelvic tilt and lift one leg up. Straighten out the leg, maintaining pelvic tilt as you return leg. Progress by lifting both legs and doing a bicycle motion. Your stomach should look flat with exhale and not bulging at the top.' Double legloweringMaintain pelvic tilt as you lower your legs, starting with knees bent and straightening legs out as you lower. Only lower as far as you can maintain your pelvic tilt (lower back flat on the floor). Once you feel your back begin to arch, return legsone at a timeto starting position. Double legraisingwill work your hip muscles and is too much pressure on your spine and abdominal muscles ' LOWER with both legs but RAISE one at a time.Remember to get the all clear from your doctor before you begin any of these exercises.Remember: love your body and it will love you right back! (bodiworks@gmail.com)
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