Carol shares her postpartum journey with us
I remember the first time I pulled out my mat to do my own practice a few weeks after my daughter was born almost 14 months ago now. I thought to myself “I’m fit, healthy and strong. I had a perfect birth with zero complications and didn’t even take a paracetamol afterward. I’d be fine, right???”
It wasn’t quite that straight forward. Although there was some good movement and I didn’t have any pain, there was a serious lack of core strength. I checked myself for diastasis recti (where the muscles of the abdominal wall separate away from each other) and I had a mild two to two and a half finger separation.
This is totally normal and actually to be expected after all my internal structures and architecture had been stretched, squashed, pulled and kicked (by a certain little person 😍) for the past nine months.
I knew that my body needed to recover and that jumping back into group classes wasn’t the right way to go. So the first thing I decided to do was let my body rest, just for a few more weeks to give it the best opportunity to heal. This was the easy bit! Normal everyday stuff like walking is fine, just not muscle specific movements or exercises.
The second thing I decided to do was ad movement slowly and bit by bit only when it felt right. I spent a lot of time doing pelvic clocks and bridges and all the fundamentals at home before I even thought about adding an exercise or challenging my body. I gradually started to feel strength and connection come back to my tissues and muscles.
Also when you take away a challenge to the muscle groups you can really focus on correct movement and alignment and therefore build a solid movement foundation. The neurons in your brain actually fire differently when you move in this slow, focused and intentional way.
Finally when the separation of my abdominal muscles had closed slightly and a more normal level of movement had returned only then did I think about adding a challenge or going to a group class.
My postnatal recovery went very smoothly mostly due to the fact that I didn’t rush it and I listened to my body. This one of the most important aspects of recovery. Those who come to my class often will have heard me say a thousand times “listen to your body” or “choose a level that feels good for you today”.
This idea goes for any sort of recovery, the body is so clever and if you listen to it carefully it will tell you when somethings not right.
So whether you’re coming back from injury, after having a baby, post surgery or even a just a break, take your time and listen to your body. As always talk to your Pilates instructor, let them know what you’ve been through and they will guide you on the quickest path to safe recovery.