Monday, 27 March 2017

Returning To Exercise After Baby

* Appreciate what your body has actually been through

* You can do it, but should you do it

* After having a baby you body is vulnerable

* You need time to heal

* There are many great options for you

Postpartum exercise is extremely beneficial to mother if done in the correct way. Not only are you supporting the body physically in recovery but it also helps support our mental and emotional wellbeing. 

There is a lack of information available for pregnant and post natal mothers about how to exercise safely during pregnancy and recovery after birth. Social Media can be very informative and supportive to new mums, but doesn't always represent the safe and a realist message for many of us who are wanting to return/ or start to exercise after the birth of baby. There are many examples of athletes or cross fit mums doing extreme workouts, challenging their bodies in ways they did before their pregnancy. But does that mean it is right? In the real world it can actually be the local class at the gym or church hall that can be detrimental to mums returning to exercise. Big franchises using marketing strategies like bring your child, get fit quick and loose weight fast lure new mums into a false sense of security.


First 6 months mothers main focus is to rehabilitate, strengthen and get their cores and pelvic floors functioning well through  gentle resistance work.  This involves regaining strength and having good function in the core, glutes and back. Workouts need to be designed for the postpartum body, especially up to the first year you need to listen and observe your body and be aware of the signs your pushing yourself too soon.

After having a baby you are vulnerable to incontinence, prolapses, back pain and diastasis (present or future) due the weakening in the pelvic floor, pelvis and core from pregnancy and child birth.  Many of these symptoms will not correct themselves and can possibly get worse if you are doing the wrong type of exercise after baby. Choosing the right path can be confusing with influences from social media, other mums or family members, diet clubs, TV adverts, the list goes on. This is your journey and it has to be right for your body and your recovery. This is why it is good to get assessed by a qualified post natal instructor or a women’s health physio after your 6-8 week check. Also following a diet full of REAL food full of good nutrition, a healthy lifestyle and moving correctly can make a BIG difference on your pregnancy and post natal recovery.

After my first daughter I was one of those mums who relied on social media a source of information and inspiration to get me back to where I was before pregnancy. I wish someone had stopped me and told me to wake up and realise the harm I was doing my body. Yes I did end up with incontinence and I was very lucky not to have diastasis and a prolapsed. I ended up taking medication for my incontinence. The kegels you are taught in ante-natal classes or by the doctor had very little or no effect on reversing this. Neither did it show no benefit to how I moved daily in my life as a mother. This is why a good core and pelvic floor rehab program is SO beneficial to mums after having children. Lucky for me I qualified as a post natal instructor and specialises in pelvic and abdominal reconnection and functional core and pelvic floor strength. I no longer need medication and can now do everything I did before, safely and with good control.  This has opened doors for me to run and lift weights etc.

I wanted to show you a facebook status I put up many moons ago. It flagged up on my timeline a few weeks ago and I was shocked. I was 12 weeks post birth and it was my first week back to exercise. I had trained up to 38 weeks in my pregnancy.


Being a specialist trainer now, I do NOT advise this activity or mindset. It can be so detrimental to your body. Firstly the focus of trying to loose weight and trying to get back into old clothes should not the top of a new mums priority. To be honest I have never did fit back into many of my clothes even when I was back down to pre pregnancy weight. Your body shape changes after having children and embracing some changes is important and taking time to feel good will pay off.

I wanted to briefly go over a couple of the classes that we as instructors hear from some mums returning to after being signed of my the GP  as fit to exercise! I regretfully did some of these after my first born. 

Kettle bells
·        * Movements like Swings, halos, snatches add very high pressure throughout the core
·        * Having to use a non functional weak core to control a moving load with poor breathing strategy.

If you have diastasis or a pelvic floor dysfunction the chances are you are not managing the abdominal pressure forced through the core when using a Kettlebell. Abdominal pressure will press against the weakest areas which is usually the pelvic floor and linea alba.  Using the kettle bells as a moving load is likely to enhance these symptoms.  If you do not come out of the pregnancy with these symptoms using Kettlebells could lead to high risk of diastasis and incontinence. A weak core and lack of functional breath can also put unnecessary pressure and in back also.

·         *Front load bearing  positions like planks, pummel jumps , press ups
·         * High impact and ballistic movement- jumping, bouncing, leaping, high knees
·         *Joint laxity

Front lying positions a lot of load through shoulder girdle; enhance back pain with poor core function.  Plus pushing all the abdominal muscle and organs already onto a weakened linea alba. Creating or even prolonging the healing of diastasis.

Many people say ‘It is ok I am doing low impact options’ but not all of these are deemed safe. Doing body weight exercises can force a 50kg load  through the body  all the force has to go through via your core unit.  Breathing correctly using the diaghram and pelvic floor integrated into each movement, strengthens and protects the pelvic floor, back and abdominals.

With low impact options we need to take range of motion into account while the body has relaxin still present. Ensuring we are not hyper extending any joints or overstretching ligaments while doing certain movements. Especially for those mums who are still breast feeding.

Maintaining good alignment and posture is essential through movement and this can be missed if doing Metafit type work exasperating back pain, pelvic and knee pain. Throughout pregnancy our bodies come out of alignment and we need to rectify this before challenging our bodies with unnatural movements. In these high intensity environments it is hard for instructor to assess and correct your technique subjecting you to a risk of injury.

You need to be able to control your core and pelvic floor ensuring it reacts through simultaneously with movement. All movement relies on the core and pelvic floor providing stability

If you’re coming to one of our post natal restorative classes with symptoms such as incontinence and diastasis and doing Kettlebells,  Metafit or even weight training. The exercise prescription we give to helps you heal this may be conflicting with these types of classes and not give you the results you want. Our aim is to avoid anything that can be detrimental to healing your core and pelvic floor. We aim to educate and provide you the tools and a platform for you to progress to the classes you enjoy safely.

All of us are here to provide you with the most up to date knowledge and give you the information enable YOU the best recovery for now and your future.