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Post natal Exercise - Useful tips

POSTNATAL EXERCISE

INTRODUCTION

These should be started as soon after birth as possible in order to improve circulation, strengthen pelvic floor and abdominal muscles and prevent transient and long term problem
TYPES OF EXERCISE:
Transversus Abdominus
Pelvic Tilt
Pelvic Floor
Head and Shoulder Raises
Leg Slide
Push-ups

These gentle exercises are perfect for easing your postnatal body into an exercise routine. Many obstetricians and midwives suggest waiting until your six-week postnatal check before beginning to exercise. This is probably good advice in relation to joining an exercise class, but there is plenty you can do on your own at home in the first few weeks. However, if you had a caesarean, it's wise to wait until your six-week check.

Transversus Abdominus

An important part of getting your abdominal muscles back into shape is paying attention to the deepest layer of muscle called the transversus abdominus.
Kneel on all fours and, keeping your back flat, pull your tummy button in towards your spine. You should feel the muscles at the side of your abdomen tightening but your back should not move. Keep breathing normally.
Repeat eight to 10 times.
You can also do this exercise in sitting or lying positions.
Before moving on to more strenuous abdominal exercises, you should check the gap between your abdominal muscles with the "rec check".

Pelvic TiltLie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
Inhale and allow your abdomen to expand.

As you breathe out, pull your abdominal muscles in and try to flatten the small of your back towards the floor, and then release.
Repeat eight to 10 times.

Pelvic Floor
In case of episiotomy or if perineum feels bruised or swollen, then doing pelvic floor exercises will improve the circulation to the area and help avoid problems such as incontinence. These muscles tire easily, so it's best to do several contractions repeatedly throughout the day rather than in one session.
Sit on a firm chair leaning slightly forward with your feet flat on the floor, hip width apart. Place one hand under your buttocks and one hand on your abdomen.

Your pelvic floor muscles, which lie between your legs, should not be touching the chair seat. Tighten the muscles, as if trying to stop the flow of urine when emptying your bladder.

Hold the muscles for a count of four while continuing to breathe normally, then release. You should feel the release.

Do not tighten your buttock muscles or pull in your abdomen.

Head and Shoulder Raises

Provided the gap between your abdominal muscles is not wider than two finger widths -- you can check with the "rec check" -- you can progress to this abdominal exercise.
Lie on your back with your knees bent, your feet flat on the floor, and your hands resting on your thighs.
Breathe in and, as you breathe out, pull in your abdominal muscles, and slide your hands up your thighs towards your knees, lifting your head and shoulders off the floor as you do so.
Make sure you keep your chin at the same angle to your chest throughout the whole lift. Don't allow your head to drop back and don't pull your chin tightly down onto your chest.

Only lift up until your hands reach the tops of your knees. If you feel your abdominal muscles bulging initially, don't lift so high but try to control the abdomen and keep it as flat as possible while you lift your head and shoulders.

Repeat the entire sequence eight to 10 times.

Leg Slide

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
Tighten your abdominal muscles, and keep the small of your back in the neutral position while you slide your legs away from your body, gradually straightening your knees. The aim is to use the abdominal muscles to prevent your back from arching.

As soon as you feel your back beginning to arch, bend your knees again and return to the starting position. Repeat eight to 10 times.

Pay attention to your breathing throughout the exercise. As your abdominal muscles get stronger, you will find that you can slide your legs further before your back starts to arch.
Push-ups
Push-ups are a good way to strengthen the upper-body muscles needed for carrying your baby.

Carefully get down onto the floor and kneel on all fours with your knees directly under your hips, and your hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart.

Keeping your back flat and your abdominal muscles pulled in, gently bend your elbows and lower your chin towards the floor, then straighten up back to the starting position. Keep breathing normally, and don't lock your elbows as you straighten them.

Repeat 10 to 12 times. Work up to three sets.

Even though you are keen to regain your pre-pregnancy shape, remember to take it easy at first. If you have any queries about the exercises, speak to your midwife or physiotherapist. In addition to these exercises, you should also include some form of cardiovascular workout, such as brisk walking. Start out with five minutes, two or three days per week, and work up to 20 minutes. As you feel stronger and less sleep deprived, you can add more sets of each exercise or do more repetitions, or you may want to try more advanced exercises for six weeks and after.

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