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!