Pregnancy ‘Home Truths’… 5 Things I Wish Every Expectant Mum Knew!
Knowledge is POWER – Denial will only punish you.
After 2 kids and 15 years as a Prenatal Fitness Instructor and Pilates instructor here are the 5 things I wish every pregnant woman knew.
1. Knowledge is POWER – denial will punish you. Knowledge about prenatal wellness, exercise, physical and mental preparation, labour options and postnatal recovery are so important for a smoother journey. Denial might feel like a good option but the only person that hurts is you! The baby will be well, happy and content but you will be an exhausted emotional wreck!
2. Pregnancy is not an illness It’s an endurance challenge and you’ve signed up! You need to get physically & mentally prepared because quitting is not an option 😉 You should exercise and work hard but ONLY under experienced guidance. Sadly the vast majority of fitness instructors DO NOT HAVE THE TRAINING or experience. Nor do they understand the risks & potential knock on effects main stream programs have on an expectant mums body.
3. Exercising Incorrectly in pregnancy is RISKY. Work smater! Our bodies change so much during pregnancy and there are so many ways you can cause yourself an injury or increase your risk of postnatal conditions such as Diastasis Recti-abdominal separation, pelvic floor weakness including urinary incontinance issues, back pain and sciatica. Exercising safely is the No.1 priority to ensure the exercise you do will positively impact your body. Counteracting the negative physical changes pregnancy brings will support your growing baby, your changing body, and leave you better prepared to recover post-baby. Up to 90% of women experience an separation during pregnancy and as many as 60% of new mums continue to carry this injury past the initial 12 week period. You can exercise safely and work hard but knowledge is the key. Post 12 week ab separation among my BabyBumps prenatal clients are as low as 10% and I am a merciless instructor 😉
4. It’s ALL about the postnatal recovery. Even the worst labour can only last a matter of hours. But postnatal recovery can take months and years if it is neglected. It is normal to have lots of ‘weird stuff’ after a baby but it is not normal if it persists. There are so many things you can do during your pregnancy to avoid and at the very least minimize your risks of these postnatal issues. You need to get prepared and stop thinking the labour is the finale. It’s only the beginning!
5. Stop obsessing about ‘getting your body back’ after the baby is born . Once you have a baby you can never go back! It is an updated version of you! and you need a new approach to fitness and exercise. You need to understand how to rebuild your strength & good functionality before you tackle the aesthetics.
Every pregnant women I meet or mother with a new baby makes me want to sit them down and ask them- do you know all this?
I hate to see women having to work harder or suffer longer because they don’t know the solutions are there for them. That’s why I designed my Babybumps workshop and I hope to see you there.
Princess Kate is about to meet reality with baby no.3
Whether you’re royalty or not, recovering after 3+ babies is hard- but it shouldn’t be this hard.
I have often shared how surprised I was by my second child and how different I found my recovery second time around. Over 15 yrs I’ve seen from my clients the impact that 2 or more babies can have on a body.
Our standards are too low
And even when new mothers do get to exercise the quality of care and specialised training that women with children are getting from the mainstream fitness industry is far too low. Over the years I’ve seen so many times for example, a thirty five year old woman with two or three children who is getting back to fitness after a couple of years. Suddenly she’s doing exercise classes alongside women with no children. Physically both these women are so different and have such different needs. So for a new mum this is possibly doing more harm than good and is unlikely to get her results.
You need to focus on strength first
In the short-term after a baby we need to switch from ‘aesthetics’ to focusing on strength and stability. The quicker you can rehabilitate your core muscles and pelvic floor muscles the quicker you can move on to the aesthetics. But skipping this phase can result in back-pain, weak bladders, hernias and a ‘pot-belly’ that won’t budge.
Are you suffering?
Year after year I meet young women with children who are suffering in silence. Their confidence is gone and they find exercise ineffective.
If this is you – I have developed a Mamalates Restore Your Core Workshop. The half-day will help you reset, recharge and learn how to be fitter and healthier.
Join me for the relaunch of my online programme, MamaLates Restore Your Core 21-day system, Monday 23rd April
Find out more here
Top 5 Exercise Mistakes for Women with Kids
For 15 years I’ve developed exercise programmes for expectant mums and women with children. But after my own two children my body changed and what worked before didn’t work anymore. Could your exercise routine be doing more harm than good?
Mistake 1: Pregnancy isn’t an illness. There are some nice, soft gentle classes out there for pregnant women but you really need more. You need to know how to physically prepare your body for pregnancy, how to prepare for the birth and critically how to rehabilitate after the baby.
Mistake 2: Once you have a baby you can never go back. You need a new approach to get the results you want. Often we just try to go back to what we were doing before. But this is most likely doing more harm than good especially after your second or subsequent pregnancies.
Mistake 3: Exercising with an undiagnosed injury after your baby/ babies. Do you have back-pain, a weak bladder, hernia or a pot-belly that won’t shift? Then most likely you haven’t rehabilitated from your pregnancies (no matter how long ago they were). You are possibly doing longer-term damage exercising with an undiagnosed injury. .
Mistake 4: Re-joining normal fitness classes/ programmes straight after your baby. The quality of care and training that women with children are getting from the mainstream fitness industry is pretty low. After kids you need to be under the care of someone who is trained and qualified to understand what you can’t do, what you need to do and then pushes you to get results.
Mistake 5: Giving up. I’ve met hundreds of women with older children who never rehabilitated after their pregnancies and now they are really suffering in silence. These are young but their confidence is gone. They have given up or are afraid to exercise.
With a bit of knowledge and the right consistent exercise you will feel so much better and look fitter and healthier. Check out my workshop in Athlone April 15
5 Most Common Physical Post Pregnancy Problems
My Body after Child Birth
Pregnancy creates a lot of changes in your body; it goes through a huge transformation. Somebody changes due to pregnancy stay, while other changes are easily remedied with exercise and a good diet. Remember, ladies you were carrying your baby for nine months. It takes at least that amount of time if not up to a year to get the body back in shape and feeling great.
After childbirth, you can experience some or all of the 5 most common after birth effects such as back pain, abdominal separation, leaky bladder – incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse or painful sex.
The physical changes occurring during pregnancy cause lower back pain after pregnancy. During pregnancy, your expanding uterus stretches and weakens your abdominal muscles. Your posture changes to adapt to your growing baby putting a strain on your back. The extra weight means your muscles work harder plus there is increased stress on your joints. The hormonal change in pregnancy loosens the joints and the ligaments that attach your pelvic bones to your spine. This causes you feel less stable. Women often experience pain when walking, standing, sitting for long periods, rolling over in bed, getting out of a low chair or bath, bending, or lifting things.
A gentle appropriate Pilates exercise regime helps a lot to get you feeling strong and back to yourself again.
Abdominal separation is common in pregnant and postpartum women. It happens because of the extreme stretching of the abdominal wall and the effect hormones on connective tissue.
In addition, chronic collapsed and rounded parenting postures reinforce the conditions that contribute to this separation. However, any consistent forward and forceful pressure against the abdominal wall can create the separation known as diastasis. Download my Free Resource – ‘How to Self Check for abdominal Separation’ Ebook guide and videos here.
Leaky Bladder after Childbirth
Bladder incontinence comes in two varieties: stress and urge.
Up to two-thirds of women experience urinary incontinence after birth, instances increase if you have a vaginal birth and/or are on your second or subsequent baby. If you leak when you forcefully laugh, sneeze, cough, run, jump or lift weights, you have stress incontinence. This is really common in the third trimester because of the pressure of the uterus on the bladder. Contributing to this are the hormones that make tissue and joints more elastic for delivery. They reduce bladder support, allowing urine to leak.
Further to that, about two-thirds of women with stress incontinence also experience urge incontinence. An overactive bladder causes Urge Incontinence. Women experience the sudden urge to go to the toilet, even though your bladder may be nearly empty and leak before you can get to the bathroom.
Women over 35 and obese women are at greater risk for prenatal leakage of both varieties.
Pilates After Childbirth
Pilates is a very helpful form of exercise as long as you are:
• Activating your core correctly
• Performing exercises correctly that is appropriate for your level of function
• Performing exercises, which have been correctly prescribed to assist with your signs and symptoms.
Free Post Baby Pelvic Floor Recovery Online Masterclass
In this masterclass you will learn:
- Discover the myths around pelvic floor exercises and just how easy it is stop being held hostage by your own body.
- Discover how you can incorporate easy, life changing, techniques into your everyday life and see massive improvements in your symptoms.
- Surgery is not the only solution hear what you can do right now to improve your quality of life
Sagging Uterus / Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when a pelvic organ such as the bladder, rectum or uterus protrudes into the vaginal canal due to the weakening of the pelvic muscles.
Cystocele is the protrusion of the bladder into the vaginal canal. (It is not the same as urinary incontinence)
Even if you have a C-Section, sex is often painful or uncomfortable for up to 6 to 8 weeks after birth. Consult with your GP if you are still experiencing after 8 weeks.
Sex after pregnancy is painful because of bruised muscles, and scar tissue. To relieve the pain and discomfort the scar tissue may need to be broken down and massaged.
The Right Pilates Exercises After Pregnancy
Pilates exercises and classes can be problematic for women who have had a previous hysterectomy, prolapse surgery and/or incontinence surgery.
Women with or at risk of pelvic floor dysfunction should be screened prior to attending Pilates sessions. Their Pilates exercises will need to be modified accordingly.
Mainstream Pilates is not an appropriate form of rehabilitation exercise for women having undergone recent prolapse surgery or hysterectomy.
Talk to Your Pilates Instructor
Not all Pilates instructors are qualified or experienced to work with women who wish to recondition their bodies after childbirth. It is strongly recommended to choose an instructor who understands what happens to a woman’s body during and after pregnancy.
In my upcoming blog posts and specified online masterclasses, I will talk more about pregnancy and Pilates and the exercises to avoid, exercises that will cause more harm than results.
Remember, your body has gone through a lot during pregnancy and needs lots of tender loving care afterwards. If you have any questions contact me. I run weekly-specialized classes for pregnancy and post pregnancy alongside my online program MamaLates – Restore Your Core 21Day System.
For more information contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time…
Warnings of Postnatal Exercise
I know exactly what it’s like! You spend 9mths of pregnancy day-dreaming of how you’re gonna get back into shape after you have your little bundle and as soon as you physically can you try to launch yourself straight back into it!
I was lucky enough to have both my babies in early December so Christmas and the winter weather kept me indoors, relaxed in front of the fire with my focus firmly on bonding with my lil one. Nevertheless it was buzzing around in the back of my head, like an annoying to do list, that I should think about getting started.
Particularly if you were a regular exerciser pre-pregnancy, separate to the weight/body shape issues, you really miss it and are dying to get the feel good factor from doing a good workout!
I’ve noticed an increase in postnatal specific exercise classes being offered by different main stream fitness outlets lately which is just fantastic. It is important for new mums to feel there are special classes specific to their needs and to encourage women to back to exercise and its tremendous benefits for the postnatal mum.
While I would caution women against returning to regular exercise too quickly it is possible to participate is postpartum specific programs relatively quickly. These programs should be specifically designed and delivered by a suitably qualified and experienced Health and Fitness professional preferably with personal knowledge of how your body changes during pregnancy, be highly aware of the possible circumstances that would affect what you should and shouldn’t do along with an extensive knowledge of exactly what your body needs to bring it back to full strength and function. It is your duty to yourself and your delicate body to ensure these standards of care are behind your chosen program.
Classes should be tummy friendly and focused on building strength from the inside out. It is NOT ok to launch into abdominal workouts, high intensity programs or weight loss focused fitness programs.
You should to be acutely aware that certain exercises and components of mainstream classes can adversely affect your body’s recovery and journey back to full function health and shape. Ensure your provider is qualified to administer and carries out a Diastasis Rectus Assessment on each new mum to ascertain where you are at and to help figure out the best course of action for YOU.
With all this in mind getting back to exercise with a postnatal class will be a fabulous experience as you meet other new mums in the same boat as you and lap up the encouragement and support these classes offer not just from your leader but from other mamas too!
Pilates.. One size does NOT fit all!
Like everything you decide to do, there are beginner, improver and advanced levels. Pilates is no different. And like everything you do there are different ways Pilates classes are offered and sometimes that’s ‘one level fits all’. Since training as a Pilates instructor in 2003 I have always offered and taught varying levels and now 13 years on I feel it is still one of the most valued and attractive elements of how I teach and my unique method. I feel it is the gold standard and I recommend you have a chat with me to help you choose the correct Pilates level for you.
5 Reasons Pilates Levels are Important
1. Implementing the fundamentals of the Pilates technique
2. Respecting your body’s abilities and limitations
3. Ability to achieve correct abdominal engagement
4. Ability to recognize correct alignment
5. Comfortable yet challenging
Implementing the fundamentals of the Pilates technique
The key to performing an effective Pilates workout with desired results is to learn the fundamentals of Pilates. The Pilates Studio level for beginners is called Fundamentals. It is essential to learn this Pilates level and build from there and it’s so comforting to know, as you begin, that you are in a group with people who know as little as you do! There is no fitness, flexibility or knowledge requirement, you will not be shamed by the person beside you as they do moves you’d never dare to try! Fundamentals is a series of exercises put together to be completely doable for even the stiffest, most inactive body. The focus is on gaining a new understanding of your body and begin a gentle exploration of correct movement – with particular emphasis on breath control, abdominal support, and pelvic/spinal alignment.
Without fundamental knowledge, you will not achieve an effective Pilates practice, so I slow things down and teach a deconstructed version of Pilates until you are confident you understand and feel it correct in your own body then…. I add the challenge!!
Respecting your body’s abilities and limitations
Everyone has a different body makeup with varying levels of fitness, strength and stamina. It is important that you are in a class where you feel comfortable and have the ability to do the positions without feeling under pressure or body stress. I will always provide guidance and recommended modifications once I am aware of any postural problems or injuries. I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to respect your body. You will build on your strength, stamina, flexibility and control. It is about progression and body respect.
Ability to achieve correct abdominal engagement
No matter what Pilates level you are at, achieving and maintaining correct abdominal engagement during exercise is vital. This core engagement is where all Pilates exercises work from. Only with time and practice will you build a stronger core. You can then accomplish more advanced and challenging positions. Your instructor should understand your body and gently push you to challenge yourself in your Pilates practice. At The Pilates Studio small equipment like the Pliates ring, gym ball and small ball are used to increase strength and intensity in core engagement.
Ability to recognize correct alignment
Recognising when you are in correct body alignment during your Pilates practice takes time. Most of us at some point in our lives developed bad postural habits. These are only corrected with body awareness and practice. This is another reason why at The Pilates Studio class levels were developed. During our Progressive class alignment becomes automatic whereas in Fundamentals and Intermediate correct alignment is becoming an ingrained good postural habit.
Comfortable yet challenging
Whether you are attending a Fundamentals Pilates class or you are moving up a Pilates level you should not feel stressed or uncomfortable. Yes, I do want you to challenge your body but in a class where everyone is in the same boat! If you were a beginner who attends a Progressive class it would be too big a challenge. You might feel discouraged to attend again. And mixed level class can create unrealistic expectations of your ability. Most people try and push their bodies too hard. By not attending the correct Pilates level, you lose the important fundamentals of the Pilates technique which every exercise is built from.
Pilates levels allow you to practice your Pilates at a level you will build from. It feels good to move up the levels where you will constantly challenge your ability and see amazing results. At The Pilates Studio all levels are catered for separately. There are also specially developed signature classes for pre and postnatal mothers and those who suffer from Back, Neck Pain or Bad Posture
Why not choose a level that suits you today.
Click here to see all your options!
2017 The Year of Body Confidence
Yes it has arrived. The New Year. You may not feel like it, but the pressure to reinvent ourselves after the Christmas blowout is everywhere we turn! For a lot of people the new year marks the start of healthier habits and the beginning of body preparations for summer when we NEED to look good and have a great body to show off. However body confidence is so much more than that. Lacking in body confidence is our perception of our own body. And it is no wonder we don’t feel good about our bodies. Every minute of the day we are been sold new ways to achieve a better outer appearance and lifestyle. To me that is a lot of pressure to try to achieve the perfect life when really there is no such thing…perfection is an illusion.
So, how do I get body confidence?
The answer is simple; you start moving your body and changing your perception. Yes, the weather in Ireland really does affect our motivation to get up and go. It has been said the first step to changing something is being aware of how we feel. So, when you know you’re not feeling motivated, you’re tired and fed up by the weather know now you can change how you feel by moving your body and refusing to give into the little voice inside your head.
You can do it.
Body Confidence & Pilates
Pilates really works as well for the body as it does for your mind. The breathing technique and the focus that is required to do Pilates exercises helps achieve relaxation of the mind. You will come away feeling revitalized with better toned abs, legs, bum, and arms with every class. Sometimes knowing we are doing something to keep our bodies fit and healthy is enough to give us body confidence. 15 minutes of Pilates a day is all it takes to get great results; effective and efficient, and a whole lot better than 0 minutes and beating yourself up about your body.
Body Confidence short cuts
Sorry there are no short cuts. If getting body confident was easy and we all had it I wouldn’t need to write this blog post. I have helped hundreds of athletes, sports people, people with postural issues, older people, pre and postnatal women and those with injuries achieve amazing body confidence. There is nothing more fulfilling in my job than to have people tell me how good they feel. It is priceless. And you should feel good about yourself too.
Be ready for every season
Don’t let New Year or an upcoming summer be the only time of the year you want to feel body confident. Start by deciding that you want and deserve to stand tall and love your uniqueness. We are not all the same. No one has that same body shape or size. Love your body and try Pilates. I really do believe in it. I have seen amazing results for both myself and all my clients. I sent years feeling if I didn’t spend x amount of time half killing myself at the gym my body wouldn’t feel good. I had to let that belief go with 2 small babies and I’m so happy I did!
See you at The Pilates Studio
I love to see new faces and help them achieve their goals. Yes you do have to work hard but you don’t have to do it alone. I am Pilates Institute London and National Training Centre Ireland trained and have 14 years’ experience teaching different classes around Ireland. I would love you to achieve your goals too.
Try a class and see how you feel!
Book Here today..
5 reasons Why Everyone Should Do Pilates
Millions of people around the globe are experiencing the lifelong benefits of Joseph Pilates’ vision. It benefits your body and life no matter your age, gender lifestyle even if you have previous injuries.
1. Prevent injuries
Injuries can incapacitate your body for weeks, months, even years. This does not have to be a reality. Pilates is a way to prevent and heal injuries rather than cause or aggrevate them like weight bearing exercises.
Pilates focuses on your core, strengthening your abdominals and back muscles. Take a second to think about how much you use your core every day without even realizing: to stand up, walk, bend over, even to sit in a chair. If you suffer from back pain, it is likely due to muscular weakness. Strengthening weakened muscles alleviates current pain and helps prevent future pain / injury.
2. Build core strength and long, lean muscles
Our core is where our strength originates from, when it’s weak, our entire body is weak.
Pilates focuses on exercises that constantly engage the core, resulting in flat abs and a strong back. Unlike weight lifting exercises which shorten and bulk muscles, Pilates focuses on the body’s own resistance and assistance training working both sides of muscles simultaneously. Your muscles elongate achieving a long, lengthened, toned appearance.
3. Increase flexibility, coordination and balance
Your balance and coordination also come from your core muscles. Using Pilates to condition your core muscle helps prevent falls and injuries. Increased flexibility and strength allow the core muscles to lengthen and become pliable. This gives you ability to bend and stretch further enhancing flexibility, balance and coordination, preventing the possibility of injury.
4. Pilates is for everyone
Pilates is genderless with no age restriction. Those of you with old injuries or suffering with pain, pregnant or looking to improve the condition of your body will benefit from doing Pilates. Pilates enhances your posture, body awareness, connecting mind and body. It can be gentle or challenging depending on your goals. It’s proven to aid in the treatment and management of pain due to its low-impact exercises which remove stress off your joints and bones.
5. You can do it anywhere
Pilates is remarkably versatile. You can do it almost anywhere: at home, in the gym or studio, in a hotel room, even on the beach! Even doing 15 minutes of Pilates in your day will benefit your body. You don’t need expensive equipment. Pilates uses your own body weight as resistance. But if you do desire more challenge to our practice, you can add weight balls, resistance bands and other small equipment to increase the intensity and resistance.