Updated: May 20
For all the new and old mums out there…. WOW you ladies are incredible!! After a whirlwind year working on the maternity wards and treating pregnant and postpartum women, all I can say is that the human body is freaking LOCO and you guys are phenomenal.
I mean you grew a human inside of you and then went through DELIVERY, and now you’re feeding them and teaching them how to stick their tongues out and laugh at peek-a-boo…. All in the span of a year.
So, CONGRATULATIONS!!! Now it’s time to do you and focus on YOU because gal you deserve it!
Returning to pole postpartum can be both exciting and daunting. For some, pole defined you before pregnancy and returning to pole is the ultimate goal. For others, pole was a release and a way to feel more like you. Irrespective of your reason, let’s get you back on the pole!!
Because everyone asks WHEN?, a generalised time frame of what exercise you should expect to commence exists. But like I said it’s generalised and based on more straight forward deliveries. We know that all women are different. Your exercise background, your experiences in pregnancy, your mode of delivery … etc. all have an impact on your recovery.
Therefore, while a generalised timeframe exists, it no way means that you NEED to “bounce back” and meet these timeframes. Regardless of mode of delivery, your body needs time to heal and recover. So listen to your body because it knows better than me! Plus, take the time to enjoy new bub and their little chubby wrists and ankles, because if there’s one thing that we all know… they grow up way too quickly!
So, I prefer to use the following general time frames in addition to your symptoms to help guide you on your return to exercise and ultimately pole:
0-6 Weeks Postpartum
Now, the Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG) Guidelines suggest that if you had a fit and active pregnancy and relatively smooth delivery, then you can start walking! For some women this is really hard even though all of the above are true. So walk and aim for 15-30 minutes a day as recommended, but listen to your body! If you’re leaking, feeling heavy or bulging in your vagina, or feeling more sore and super fatigued, get yourself some horizontal rest please! You can also break it up into smaller intervals like 3 x 10 minute walks, or even just do a 10 minute walk a day. Remember 10 minutes is still amazing!
Spend this time figuring out sleep, feeding and how to live this new life with the most beautiful baby you’ve ever seen whilst doing your pelvic floor exercises (PLEASE).
If your plan is to return to pole, get these muscles fit and ready from now! Just because everyone needs to hear it again: DO YOUR PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES PLEASE! You will thank yourself in 12 weeks and in 30 years, trust me!
You can also start doing deep abdominal activation exercises to help the recovery of abdominal separation and prepare your core for the “low impact” exercises you’re about to start after 6 weeks. If you don’t know how to do these, check out The Pole Physio blog here to learn how to.
With all that said, don’t forget the basics! Manage any swelling and pain with sufficient icing of the perineum, horizontal rest, postpartum recovery leggings or compression wear and optimise your analgesia (pain relief) if you need!
6-12 Weeks Postpartum
At 6 weeks, I hope you’re booked to get a check-up at the GP and, more importantly, with your Women’s Health Physiotherapist. A Women’s Health/Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist will be your key to returning to pole dancing.
Usually by this time we expect your body to have recovered enough to commence “low impact exercises”. This means body weighted exercises, pilates, yoga etc. Again, this varies from woman to woman, so remember to not go gung-ho and listen to your body. Always check in with your Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist if you are experiencing vaginal symptoms like heaviness or bulging, abdominal separation doming or coning, urinary or faecal incontinence with or without exercise.
12 Weeks Postpartum
At 12 weeks, if you have been on your A-game with your pelvic floor exercises, core conditioning and general strengthening program, you could commence “high impact exercises” if cleared by your pelvic health Physiotherapist.
I would say, if you are symptom free and have been cleared by your Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist, you can consider heading back to your pole studio and do some classes. Be sure to start slow and progress gradually! Don’t forget your body is still recovering from pregnancy and delivery, so be kind to yourself. You might want to drop down a few levels and focus on enjoying yourself and relearning how to move your body on and off a pole. This might even mean some easy dance or conditioning classes to start off with before getting back into full trick classes. Most importantly, don’t get frustrated at yourself if you can’t invert or do things you used to be able to!! Your abdominal cavity literally just housed a human being and then delivered it! You are already amazing!
When is the earliest you can start pole?
Most pelvic floor physiotherapists who don’t have any idea of what us pole dancers do, would probably say at least 12 weeks to er on the safe side.
But as a pole dancer and pelvic floor physiotherapist myself, I say you can definitely ease into pole if you are symptom free and have clearance and guidance from your physio as early as 6 weeks. As long as the tricks and pole that you are doing aren’t too hard for your pelvic floor.
There is so much more to pole dancing than inverting and going upside down! So you can definitely pick and choose things that are safe for you…
Tricks such as inverts, shoulder mounts and even fan kicks use too much of your core that early on in your recovery can cause doming or coning of your abdominals.
But tricks like simple spins around the pole that don’t require as much bracing with your core may be ok to start with!
SO how would you do this in a class and know if the tricks taught are safe for you or not?
Well funny you ask, because wouldn’t it be nice if someone just taught a postpartum friendly pole class? Lucky for you, it exists! If you are symptom-free and feeling fabulous, I recommend you sign up to The Pole-Mamas: The Ultimate Course for Pregnancy to start our 6-week postpartum return to pole program where I guide you through a postpartum-friendly progressive series of strength conditioning, pole tricks and dance routines. The course aims to bridge your return to the pole studio by week 12 and allows you to work on your overall body strength with respect to your pelvic floor and postpartum recovery. The conditioning and tricks in the course were designed specifically to allow you to get back on the pole earlier (with goal tricks like inverts and shoulder mounts in mind), without compromising your recovery.
This postpartum journey can look different each pregnancy and without a doubt for each mama. You may see on social media, fitness mamas or pole mamas “bouncing back”, but the reality is your body takes 9-12 months to recover from pregnancy and birth. There is no harm in taking it slow; the studio and pole will always be there for you to pick it back up when your mind and body are ready.
So your key take home messages today are:
Make sure you don’t compare yourself or beat yourself up on this journey. Take this time and appreciate what your body has been able to do.
Do your pelvic floor exercises!
See your GP and Women’s Health/Pelvic Health Physiotherapist for a check at 6 weeks postpartum
Return to exercise slowly and gradually
Listen to your body make sure when exercising or going about your daily life you are not leaking, or feeling heaviness or bulging at your vagina. If you are, see a pelvic floor physiotherapist for a tailored pelvic floor and return to exercise program.
If you need tailored advice to help you on your return to pole journey, online telehealth appointments can be booked with the Pole Physio via our ‘Book Online’ page that can be found here. Assessment and tailored rehabilitation are provided in accordance with best practice and evidence-based treatment to help you unleash your 'poletential'.
Until next time, train safe
The Pole Physio