This blog post comes from a place of total love and care for you. Know that as you read it. I am no expert in this, just bloody passionate about it. It’s long.
When Lily was about 8 weeks old, I had a weird urge to go for a run. Weird, I know. Should have squashed that idea! I’m not a runner but on that day I felt the need to run. So I did. I managed all of about 2 kms. Proudly posting my feat on facebook, I had a raft of ‘Awesome, you go girl’ ‘You weirdo’ etc but one comment stuck out to me from a friend who said ‘Be careful with your body, it is very prone to injury so early from birth, especially with running.’
Too late now, run was complete. But her words got me thinking and investigating more. What I found was too interesting and far too important not to share. Since then, I have talked with local women’s Physios, joined And participated in various forums, researched a butt load of scientific articles, run my own bootcamps and signed up to complete short courses around post pregnancy women’s exercise. This is the direction I want to head with my life; working alongside postpartum women safely finding their movement mojo.
Now Elijah is here, I am champing at the bit to get into exercise again. But I will approach with caution and listen to my body. Week 8 this time around, there will be NO running. NO ridiculous ab work. NO bootcamps with trainers who don’t know a postpartum mums body. There WILL be controlled, guided, gentle, healing exercise. Exercises that don’t place strain on already overstretched muscles and joints. Let’s rename it regenerative movement.
What is frustrating is there was no guidance or checks from my midwife both times (I love my mifwife to pieces, so it’s not on her!) given post birth regarding looking after your body exercise wise. I was given the same pamphlet 2 years ago and told do your pelvic floors. But what does that look like? Feel like ? How long for? How intense? How often and why?
Why? Because being informed now could save your health and money down the track. Issues can arise such as prolapse, incontinence, herniation due to improper ab exercises, strained and sprained muscles/ligaments and overworked joints. And know this is NOT the beautiful mummas fault at all! My god it is not! There is a lack of information given surrounding exercise post birth, who this falls upon, I do not know. How can correct information be given so the mum can make an informed decision surrounding exercise? I do not know.
I do know it is not good enough.
So, here are 5 things I’ve learnt about exercise post birth.
1. Professionals are there for a reason. Seek the knowledge and help from people who know about postpartum womens health and exercise. (Really, it should be part of your post birth checks and not up to you to seek advice but that’s another blog post #ranty). Physio would be number 1 on the list!!! A doctor, midwife, or personal trainer. They SHOULD check diastasis recti, pelvic floor and posture. And hopefully give you safe exercises to start working on.
2. Do number 1. Exercises that allow your core to sag or stretch are shit. EG: Plank position type exercises. (Think push ups, burpess, planks, mountain climbers, froggers etc.) and NO to sit ups. If you must, perform modified versions (Eg: standing pushups) of the above until you’ve had the all clear from number 1. Improper exercises mentioned can exaggerate a diastasis recti, not allowing proper healing and closure, which results in ‘Mum tum’ bulging and sagging.
3. Do number 1. High impact exercise onto a healing body are shit. Weakened ligaments due to hormone relaxin will place added stress onto joints and muscles, making more prone to injury. Activities such as high impact aerobics, gymnastics, netball, and running can increase chances of injury. Think jumping type sports/activities. Until you’ve had the all clear from number 1, take it easy.
4. Do number 1. Pelvic floor muscles are exactly that; muscles that needs to be gently exercised. But how? I was told to imagine lifting a tissue up with your butt/fanny. Hold for a few seconds and then FULLY release. Repeat as many times as you feel comfortable with. Start easy then build up to holding for at least 8 seconds. Or imagine stopping your urine mid pee (avoid this as a regular exercise). This will strengthen the muscles that is the pelvic floor, decreasing you chances of incontinence both urine and faecal over time. Imagine if we could change societal thinking of ‘Well I’ve had kids so it’s normal when I laugh/sneeze/jump that I pee a little’ IT’S COMMON BUT IT’S NOT NORMAL. I’m sorry for the capitals but gosh I feel SO fucking passionate about this. It is not your fault dear mumma, you are beautifully normal but this issue is not. The bloody good news? It can EASILY be fixed if you go do number 1.
5. Do number 1. Listen to your body and your team of experts! I didn’t. I got back into competitive netball 6 months after Lily was born. 6 months is a long time but I was still breast feeding and my physio had advised I don’t partake in netball till I stop it (because of hormones). I didn’t listen and can honestly say I had the most injury riddled season. I may not play competitive again as my ankle is stuffed and may need surgery. And that’s just an ankle! Stop, listen, seek advice. Your body is precious, take care.
I apologise if this seems ranty and shouty. It is not any reflection of you or what you are doing dear mumma. It stems from frustration of how little information is given to postpartum mums about exercise.
But I won’t apologise for caring.
If you want to know more, message me on Facebook @lilypieandi or email me. I’ve got links and research for miles. Not running miles though.