Today, we have Dahlas Fletcher from Body Fabulous writing for us. She is one of Australia’s most respected and successful Certified Pregnancy and Postnatal Trainers. She’s giving us an insight into how exercise changes once you’re a mum.
Think about this
Pregnancy and birth have a HUGE impact on your core and pelvic floor, and I think every Mama can agree that you do not “snap” back to your pre baby body immediately.
For every exercise, there is a correct time and place to do it. Most importantly burpees, box jumps, planks and pushing yourself to exhaustion during a workout…(when you are already tired) is not going to benefit you.
ALL kinds of movement may not be appropriate for you – just yet!
If higher intensity movements are to be included in a workout they need to be programmed and planned strategically. As recovery after child birth is temporary but the damage can be long term.
Everyone has a different recovery road
Your goal when returning to exercise post birth should be to rehab BEFORE you re-train so you have a strong foundation on which to build. This starts with the foundation of your core, your pelvic floor. Similar to building a house, if this foundation is not strong and stable…the rest of your upper core (6 pack or Diastatist Recti) will not heal effectively or at worse collapse.
Your recovery might take, 8 weeks, 4 months or 5 years. Every woman’s postpartum recovery journey is different depending on a variety of factors including what exercise you have been doing before and during pregnancy, your birth, your sleep and even your posture!
Why you are postpartum forever
I completely understand how overwhelming it can be when you scroll through social media. It’s hard not to feel like there is some sort of “shape” you should be in when you see mama’s who are running marathons, lifting 40 kg above their heads or loving their bikini body challenge burpees !.
Please ignore those images and consider these statistics instead …
“50% of postpartum women are likely to have some form of prolapse in their life and 70% of women will have some form of incontinence”
(source Continence Foundation Australia)
Leaking is not ok! Please don’t be ashamed if it is happening to you (or happens later in life) – poise pads are not the solution. Effectively training your deep core (and I don’t just by kegels) can prevent and heal these issues. It is NEVER too late to start!
Intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) is the main culprit for causing damaging diastatis recti, pelvic floor injuries and ongoing back issues in many women. IAP pressure can be increased with high impact movements such as planks, burpees, skipping and also running!
EXHALING on the effort is the key to avoiding excessive IAP – this means anytime you lift anything or have any form resistance breath out. Try this not only during a workout, but as you go about your daily movements including lifting your pram, grocery bags and toddler!
“After training pregnant and postpartum women for over 11 years, trust me this works – you can actually breathe your way too a better core.”
Importantly if you also see any form of coning or doming in your abdominals during exercise please stop. As this is a sign that you have too much IAP and your core is not functioning effectively.
When are you ready to take it up a notch?
I am often asked, how do you know when you are ready to return to more intense forms of movement? Please see a Women’s Health Physio (ideally at 12-15 weeks post birth) so you can be properly assessed. Even a core that looks fabulous on the surface with a 6 pack can have deep core and pelvic floor issues – so an assessment is essential.
Don’t be a rushing woman
Please don’t feel like you have to rush post birth recovery! There are so many other alternatives to high impact movement that can still give you a fabulous workout. These include – squats, resistance training and functional based exercises. It is also incredibly important you give yourself time to allow your hormones to settle back into a regular cycle, particularly if you are breastfeeding. Dieting and excessive exercise is only going to delay hormone balance further. Importantly, if stress continually happens in your body (including physically via exercise) your cortisol levels stay high and body fat will be stored.
Become empowered with the knowledge to trust your body. If a movement does not feel right find an appropriate modification or seek the advice of a certified pregnancy and postpartum trainer.
About Dahlas Fletcher
Certified Pregnancy and Post Natal Exercise Specialist
Dahlas is one of Australia’s most respected and successful Certified Pregnancy and Postnatal Trainers.
Her combined experience as National Marketing Manager, a mother to 3 young children, and 20 years experience working as Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer all inspired her to create Bodyfabulous.
Her goal is to help you be the happiest, most fabulous version of yourself, inside and out. By providing real solutions, that she has personally used before, during and after her own 3 pregnancies.
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