Pilates and Post-Cesarean Tummy

Fit and Flat - FAST

Most women want to stay fit during their pregnancy and continue to do so by attending regular fitness classes, many of which can be tailored to the needs of a pregnant woman. Spending the time keeping your body fit is a worthwhile endeavor, especially during labor and after the baby is born. Labor can be helped immensely when a mother is fit.

However, there are times when a natural childbirth is not the best method for delivery of the baby, and a cesarean section is required. When a cesarean is done, the doctor cuts through the muscles and tendons to the uterus, then a cut is made into the uterus to allow for the removal of the baby. This type of delivery is major surgery and needs to be respected as such.

Many mothers, after the birth of their babies, can't wait to get back into their skinny jeans. They diet, exercise, and do whatever they think they need to do to lose their baby weight and get fit again. When the baby is born by cesarean section, the push to get fit has to be tempered. It isn't always safe to move too quickly into exercise after a c-section because c-section recovery can take up to two or three months. If you push it, you can definitely cause yourself more harm than good.

Major Surgery: Take Your Time

Remember, a cesarean section is major surgery. It takes time to recover. But you can learn how to get back into shape after your cesarean by being patient and using methods that are not high pressure. One such method of fitness that is extremely effective for post-cesarean recovery is Pilates. Pilates works primarily with core strength, that is creating a strong midsection and back (the core of the body) to help keep everything together.

Pilates Strengthens The Core

Pilates is a gentle, low impact form of exercise, and as such is considered to be an excellent way for pregnant women to stay fit. It not only keeps a pregnant woman fit, but because it enhances the core of the body and creates strength in the abdominal, back and pelvic muscles, it is an excellent way to prepare for childbirth. Once the baby is born, it serves as a great way to get back into shape.

Why is Pilates better than conventional workouts? Crunches do very little to alleviate the low belly sagging that is a compliment of pregnancy and a c-section. Top that off with the reality that if you are not more than two months past your surgery, there's a good chance you'll develop a hernia from doing crunches. The best route is to do exactly as you were told after the surgery - give yourself time to heal. Walking around the house or going for short walks outside is great to get blood flowing, thus reducing the risk of blood clots and pneumonia. Otherwise, an aerobic workout may cause more grief than good and end up setting you back in your healing process.

Joseph Pilates developed his method as a result of being a sickly child, having suffered with asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever. He dedicated his entire life to improving his own physical strength. His philosophy was that the so-called modern lifestyle of the day (this would be the early 1900s) led to bad posture, poor eating, and inefficient breathing which undermined good health. As a result, he developed a system of exercise and training techniques and designed equipment to help people achieve better health and strength. His method was used extensively after World War 1 to help rehabilitate injured soldiers.

The Value of Pilates

Pilates is a great way to recover your strength and flatten your belly because it works the deeper layers of muscles, the ones that stretch the most when you're pregnant. The exercises don't require crunches or weights, but they aren't altogether easy, either. So, it is important to wait until you get the go-ahead from your physician before you get serious with Pilates (or any other type of exercise for that matter).

There a many excellent Pilates DVDs and classes available for post-cesarean mothers. In order to achieve good fitness, strength and yes - a flat tummy - it is important to honor your body where it is and then train it patiently and over time to do what you want it to do. Pushing hard and doing a thousand crunches isn't the best way.

Fitness is an essential part of a healthy pregnancy. Read more about it here.

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