There is no written rule on how and when to resume sports after giving birth. However, Dr. Gaby Aebersold reveals the most important points to consider in an interview.
Doctor Aebersold, how should you go back to training after giving birth?
It is important to start pelvic floor exercises as early as possible. A good pelvic floor is essential because after birth it is weakened and this can cause problems with incontinence and prolapse of internal organs. It is also necessary to strengthen the trunk muscles to restore muscle balance as soon as possible. Only then can you gradually resume with your usual specific training.
How would you quantify this period in days or weeks?
If the birth did not lead to complications, after 6-8 weeks it should be possible to resume sports activities carried out before pregnancy. However, this phase is very personal. Each sport poses a different challenge for the body, so one should prepare specifically.
When can running be practiced?
The pelvic floor is heavily stressed during jogging, so it is essential to train it in advance, also carrying out core strengthening exercises, as already mentioned. Then it would be ideal to do some walking first and, if all goes well, you can run smoothly. At that point you can start a muscle-building workout, however, at the beginning the effort should be modest and the workout slower and shorter than usual. Then you can first increase the frequency, the duration, and only at the end the intensity.
While what about other sports?
Cycling, for example, is a sport that does not weigh on the pelvic floor, so you can start pedaling again earlier, however it depends on the size of the perineal cut; depending on the circumstances, in fact, the scar could also be annoying.
What happens if you resume training too quickly or intensely?
After giving birth, the ligaments are less firm than before. If you start too hard, especially with running, you risk discomfort and blockages in the pelvic area. Pregnancy also strains your back. If you don’t do core strengthening exercises, back problems can easily occur.
Are there any other risks?
If you resume training too quickly and suddenly increase the load, you can suffer from problems such as enthesopathy or joint pain. Breastfeeding women should also keep the effects of physical activity under control: training that is too intense or too little fluid intake can compromise milk production. It is also recommended to have a doctor check if the blood volume is normal. In fact, most women suffer from anemia after childbirth and therefore get tired immediately. Those who have sufficient iron reserves can quickly correct this condition, but if the iron reserves are too low, the anemia persists, which leads to a drop in performance.
Are there any differences between amateur and competitive sports?
Competitive athletes already have better musculature before giving birth, so they usually recover much faster than casual athletes. Pregnancy itself is often less stressful. Furthermore, competitive athletes usually know their body well and know with sufficient precision when the body is ready for an increase in load.
In the hospital, new mothers are sometimes advised to wait up to six months to play sports. What do you say?
This recommendation has no scientific basis. Six months is certainly too long! If strengthening exercises are performed consistently, the weakened and stressed muscles from birth are rebuilt after three months at the latest. Six months without physical training would cause a severe loss of fitness.