Postpartum regression: the best postpartum exercises

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The baby is finally here – and of course it is now the focus. But while all eyes are on the child, you are probably realizing that everything about your body is far from being the way it used to be. Logically, that’s completely normal.

Even if it seems that way with some stars and Insta starlets: a super tight body right after birth is not realistic. Why also? You have just given birth to a child, that’s achievement enough. So rather deal with the question of what your body really needs now. And if you want to get fit again after regression: Get our effective 8-week plan for postnatal training.

One woman who knows her way around is Juliana Afram. In her book “From Puerperium to Workout”, the mother of two, yoga teacher and prospective physiotherapist shows the exercises with which the stomach and pelvic floor can become stable again after pregnancy.

“During pregnancy, everyone worries about the health of the expectant mothers,” says Juliana Afram. “But as soon as the baby is there, we are often alone with the physical changes.” Here she explains everything about regression.

When does regression make sense?

If possible, it begins in childbed. Anyone who thinks “They’re crazy!” Can be reassured: “During the puerperium, I mainly recommend breathing and perception exercises that you can do while your baby is lying on your stomach. That doesn’t look like much, but it does make a difference, “explains the trainer.

The energy level in women after giving birth varies greatly. What you should definitely not do right after the birth is jogging, jumping or even very demanding activities such as crossfit. No matter how athletic you are and how fit you feel, your pelvic floor is not ready for it!

Until when is regression possible?

Almost always. So don’t give up the thought because you think it’s too late by now. Even if you did not start immediately after the birth, that is not a problem, because basically you can start with the regression at any time after the birth.

The only important point of orientation: health insurance companies usually only pay for the courses on regression if they are completed by the end of the 9th month after the birth. But that is also a lot of time. Don’t rush anything. The most important thing is: pay attention to your body’s signals!

Breathing exercises help you feel inside your body after delivery

Nina Buday / Shutterstock

Workout in the puerperium? Just don’t! Breathing exercises now help you to feel into your body

Why is regression so important?

It’s about getting the pelvic floor fully functional again, a task that is often underestimated. “I had to find out for myself that my gynecologist didn’t really take me seriously when it came to regression,” says Afram.

It is different in other countries: in France, for example, women are prescribed 10 units by a physiotherapist immediately after giving birth. This cannot be compared with the voluntary postnatal gymnastics, which is usually covered by health insurance companies in Germany. In addition, it is often not that easy to get a place in a postgraduate course.

Why exactly do you do postnatal gymnastics?

Ultimately, it’s about correcting the physical consequences of pregnancy. The female body changes during pregnancy, and not all of these changes simply go away with the delivery. For 9 months, the pelvic floor was heavily stressed by the baby’s growing weight, the abdominal muscles were greatly stretched and left their anatomical direction of pull.

In addition, the statics of the entire body has changed. This ensures that the body’s center of gravity shifts more and more forward as the baby bump grows. The pelvis tilts forward and the curvature in the lumbar spine increases. “When it comes to regression, we are working on realigning the pelvis, among other things,” says Afram. 3 things are particularly important to the trainer:

  1. Pelvic floor physiotherapy and targeted regression training are the foundation for all of the following sports.
  2. Regression takes time, you should expect 9 to 12 months.
  3. As I said, it is never too late to start regression.

Do I need regression after a caesarean section?

Clear answer: yes. After all, during pregnancy the pelvic floor was just as stressed, the pelvis tilted and the straight abdominal muscles shifted. But not only that.

“Women who have had a caesarean section should even take additional measures such as lymphatic drainage and treat the scar well,” says the expert. “What many do not know is that the area around the scar only regains its full sensitivity after about a year. In addition, women with a caesarean section have bladder problems.” We reveal here how your caesarean scar heals more gently.

What can I do if I have diastasis recti?

Targeted training is also possible and necessary here. A diastasis recti is a vertical, wide gap between the straight abdominal muscles; it can be above or below the navel. During pregnancy, the abdominal muscles thin out and leave their direction of pull – the baby needs space.

This gap recedes in the first 6 months after the birth, but in almost a third it doesn’t happen by itself. And then? “A diastasis rectus is a whole-body project. Find a good physical therapist to work with you on it,” recommends Juliana. Avoid: heavy lifting, classic abdominal muscle training and high impact sports such as jogging. You can use this video instruction to test whether your abdominal wall is closed.

The best post-delivery exercises

Drazen Zigic / Shutterstock

Come on mom! You can do it

When does a postgraduate course make sense?

Not too early! Your body will be ready for this challenge at least 4 to 6 weeks after delivery. Such a course makes sense, precisely because you will be shown all the exercises exactly again and because you will meet other mothers and benefit from their experiences. In addition, such a course motivates you to really tackle the matter and stick with it.

By the way: Even if you cannot personally take part in a postnatal training course due to the corona situation, many midwives offer live courses, for example in the form of video telephony.

Does the health insurance company pay for the postnatal training course?

In most cases, yes, for a 10-hour postgraduate course with recognized providers (mostly physiotherapists, midwives). The restriction: there is a requirement that the course should be completed by a certain point after the birth, usually by the end of the 9th month after the birth. And in the current situation, some health insurance companies also cover the costs of training courses via video telephony. It’s best to ask directly.

Which postural exercises are good for the abdomen and pelvic floor?

Postgraduate training exercises are very individual: What helps one woman doesn’t work for another – and vice versa. Every new mom should try these 3 all-rounders:

1. Feel the pelvic floor

It’s not that easy at all. To activate your pelvic floor, exhale and tense the ring-shaped muscles around your anus, also make the vagina very tight, as if you wanted to hold a tampon, and close the urethra, just like when the toilet beats endlessly again is and you have to wait.

Now you lift your pelvic floor a little further into you and feel how the deeper muscles in the lower abdomen are tightened. The nice thing is: You can do this exercise anytime and anywhere – when pushing a stroller or lying down at the beginning of bed.

2. The knee-elbow stand

“The exercise brings the uterus back into position,” explains Afram. Caution: If you have diastasis recti, skip this exercise! Otherwise: In the quadruped position, place your knees under your pelvis and your elbows under your shoulders. Bring your hands to the center as a fist, stack them on top of each other, and initially place your forehead on them. Your gaze is directed towards the mat so that your cervical spine is long. Your spine stays in its natural vibration. The back of your feet is on the mat.

Now breathe in. Exhaling you then build up the basic tension in the pelvic floor, press your left elbow and your right knee into the floor – push both imaginarily towards the navel. Hold the tension for 3 to 10 seconds. Extend your right arm and left leg at the same time. Release the tension and switch sides. Repeat this exercise 5 times on each side, then rest for 30 seconds. Then start again and do 2 more laps.

3. The half-kneeling position

It almost looks like a lunge, only one knee is on the ground. Place the standing knee directly under your hip joint and place the corresponding foot on the ball of the foot. The front foot is placed directly below the knee. Both pelvic bones look forward.

Inhale. While exhaling, build up basic tension, lowering your sacrum slightly downwards and lifting the pubic bone, imaginatively pulling your front heel towards the pelvis and pushing your buttocks slightly forward, consciously tensing them. Maintain this tension for 3 to 10 seconds, then release. Make sure that your rib cage is above your pelvis and your pelvis is above your knee. Repeat 10 to 15 times per side.

Would you like to get fit (again) after regression? Click here for our effective postnatal training plan.

What use are love balls in regression after giving birth?

Time and again it is said that love balls are the perfect tool to train the pelvic floor. Afram is skeptical: “It is often said that we can keep the bullets in there all day and do the household chores on the side. That is not only wrong, it is even harmful.”

If at all, you should use the love balls a maximum of 10 minutes a day and be careful: “If we tense the pelvic floor so tightly all the time, it can cramp quickly. Letting go is just as important as tensing.” By the way: You should keep this in mind when having sex during pregnancy.

How long and how often do I have to regress?

Don’t put any pressure on yourself with the post-baby body after the delivery! Your body changed over 9 months to have a child, and it takes at least as long to get everything back in place.

“9 to 12 months are completely normal,” says Juliana Afram. “The more pregnancies you’ve already had, the longer it can take to fully regress.” It’s best to do your exercises daily whenever they fit. But not too often either, especially at the beginning, so as not to overwhelm yourself.

Regression is important to get your pelvic floor fully functional again after the birth. It is best to start the course 4 to 6 weeks after delivery (currently also possible via video). For postnatal training, you can download our effective postnatal plan here:

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