What To Expect After Expecting
by Andrea Jervinis, ATC
Postpartum, also known as the fourth trimester, can be a difficult time for most women for many various reasons. The body has gone through a natural “trauma” delivering a baby (or multiple babies 😳) and requires recovery. Some women Industrial Athletes may need to jump back to work as soon as possible. But, word to the wise, do not expect it to be an easy and fast recovery.
RECOVERY AND RETURN TO ACTIVITY
Recovery isn’t always easy due to the lack of sleep, body aches and pains, breastfeeding, and hormone re-regulation that occurs. Generally, the postpartum period lasts 6-8 weeks. This time frame is how long a woman’s body returns to “normal” physiologically, granted there were no major complications in pregnancy and delivery. At 6 weeks, the woman is examined by their OBGYN and given the green light to return to physical activity.
Yes, the doctor may say you’re “back to normal,” but there are still some lingering side effects from pregnancy and delivery. In fact, some scientists argue the postpartum time frame should be extended to 1 year due to some physiological aspects taking this long to return to their pre-pregnancy state. In a study only 51% of women reported feeling they had their regular level of physical energy at 6 weeks. With that in mind, don’t expect yourself to jump right back into your pre-pregnancy workout routines or lose the baby weight immediately. Instead, approach it gently and give yourself some grace – your body has gone (and continues to go) through A LOT.
The sooner you begin exercising in the postpartum period, the better, especially to be PREPARED to return to work. Set aside some time for yourself to reap the benefits, including:
Increased energy levels.
More positive moods.
Lower propensity for anxiety/depression.
Reduced risk of heart disease and obesity.
How to exercise in the postpartum period?
Start Small – begin with only 5-10 minutes of exercise and monitor how you feel. If it’s going well, do it several times within a day. Then gradually increase the duration by adding another 5-10 minutes every other week.
Go for a Stroll – put baby in the stroller and go for a walk around the neighborhood. You may find you won’t get very far due to cramping and aches and pains, but starting with a leisurely walk is all you need. Bonus – getting baby outside will help with their day and night confusion and get you more sleep!
Buddy Workout – get baby involved with your workout and use them as your resistance.
MYTHBUSTED! – Exercising will NOT cause accumulation of
lactic acid in breast milk or change milk volume if hydration is maintained.
Strengthening – Leg Raise, Supine Heel Slides, Supine Toe Taps
Flexibility – Glute Stretching, Supine Diaphragmatic Breathing, Pec Stretching, Back Extensions.
Check out this infographic for exercise suggestions and directions!
Andrea Jervinis, ATC, LAT || Andrea is a Reno, NV-based athletic trainer for Work Right NW. On top of working as an ATC in the collegiate, clinic, and industry settings, she also has experience as a Sports Information Director, Social Media Manager and Website Content Planner. She has great insight into the nuances of pregnancy as a full time working mother to two rambunctious girls.
Be sure to check out our other blogs for further injury prevention education and tips from Work Right NW!