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4th Trimester Do's & Don'ts

The 4th trimester refers to the 3 months after giving birth. This period is crucial for pelvic floor rehab and starting the body’s healing process. Here are some general do’s and don’ts for this period. 

Do

One thing to consider is seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist. They will help identify any imbalances and address them before you are ready to begin exercising. 

Another great habit to incorporate is short walks. Generally, short walks are safe and encouraged about 2 weeks post-partum. Start with short walks on flat ground, about 5-10 minutes. Listen to how your body responds to the light exercise before increasing your walk intensity. 

Breathwork is an invaluable part of the recovery process. Healthy breathing exercises can increase your mind-body connection with your pelvic floor. Breathwork can also increase blood flow to your healing muscles and assist with your body’s healing process. A couple of breathing exercises to try are diaphragmatic breathing and box breathing. 

Once you are ready to begin light exercise, focus on retraining your core four: the transverse abdominus, multifidus, diaphragm, and pelvic floor. These muscles are crucial to healthy breathing and posture, the two most fundamental movements for a person’s well-being. Be sure to begin gently and don’t strive to match the workout intensity you were doing before giving birth. 

Finding fitness services catered specifically to new mothers is a great place to start when resuming exercise post-natal.

Don’t

The first thing to avoid is rushing back into exercise. For a lot of women, giving birth is the single hardest physical challenge they have overcome. Your body is likely tired, wounded, and needs time before it can tolerate exercise. Short walks are generally recommended about 2 weeks after birth. Exercises done within 6 weeks of birth are best facilitated by a pelvic floor physiotherapist or a PT. When you do start exercising on your own, be patient and start with quick, gentle workouts. 

A full recovery takes time. You should be expecting 12 months to pass before you are fully healed. Remain patient and celebrate the small victories. Patience is the most valuable and underrated tool to use when healing. Acknowledging small improvements is a form of gratitude, and taking time to congratulate yourself on your little wins can monumentally improve your outlook. Increased your walk time by 5 minutes? Awesome, good job! Held a plank for 5 seconds longer. Yay, celebrate! 

Fitness media is full of messages about “getting your body back” or “becoming stronger after childbirth”. Everybody’s birthing experience is unique, and everybody’s body responds to childbirth in different ways. Some mothers face harder challenges than others when recovering from birth and some women may experience life-long changes to their body after giving birth. Stay open-minded while you are recovering and avoid latching on to messages you see on social media, ads, or TV.  Becoming stronger after childbirth than you were before you were pregnant is possible, but it requires hard work, consistency, and ample time.

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