“Can I exercise while pregnant?”
The short answer is it depends. There are always contraindications that may indicate you shouldn’t be exercising while pregnant. However, there are also relative contraindications that may indicate a modification in your exercise routine rather than not exercising at all. Physical therapy can help screen your risk, determine limitations, and develop a routine together that can allow you to continue working out while maintaining the safety of your child.
“Do nothing for the first 6 weeks and then just listen to your body” is the general advice given to women who have recently given birth. But is 6 weeks really necessary?
Studies are saying no. While it is absolutely important to let your body rest and heal after giving birth (vaginal or cesarean), 6 weeks of doing nothing is not ideal. It’s nearly impossible to ask a new mom not to lift a car seat, pick up a gallon of milk, or pick up their toddler who wants to be held alongside their new little brother or sister. Early mobility and management of the pelvic floor with a qualified physical therapist can help return you to these tasks easier with less risk for injury.
What does this all mean?
The human body goes through a lot during and after pregnancy. It’s very important to take it into account, but “don’t work out while pregnant” and “6 weeks bed rest” may end up being more harmful than good. Pelvic floor muscle training is the gold standard for the prevention and rehabilitation of pelvic floor issues. Physical therapy can help guide you through pelvic floor dysfunctions and help with your pelvic floor recovery as early as 2 weeks postpartum!
Every pregnancy is unique, and no one should be placed under a generic plan to resolve pelvic floor dysfunctions. A qualified pelvic floor specialist can help you assess your needs and create a personalized regimen to improve any back pain, unwanted leakage, and lifting mechanics.
Carrie Cheung PT, DPT, LAT, ATC