- They went too hard too early and now regret it
- They haven’t done any exercise, and are feeling guilty
- Or the option that makes my heart ache – They joined an activity they thought would be suitable for them (eg. a bootcamp with babysitting) but then ended up in discomfort, with worsened postnatal symptoms or with an injury.
Firstly, I don’t want you to feel bad if you see yourself in any of these options. I did all three myself! We do the best with the information we have available at the time. What I want is to give women access to better information so they can make informed decisions and manage their own postnatal recovery with confidence.
Unfortunately, when it comes to postnatal recovery:
- We are given very limited information on how our bodies will change and what is ACTUALLY needed to recover in a timely and effective way,
- The fitness industry is not regulated and there are vast differences in the quality of pregnancy and postnatal courses available for trainers, and to top it all off
- There are unrealistic (and dangerous) societal pressures to lose baby weight and get back to “normal”.
Occasionally, I get a mum that has been seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist since birth, has been diligent with their rehab exercises and is ready to explore more movement. This makes me so excited. Somewhere along the line, she has been given some great advice, or been wise enough to realise her body is not the same since pregnancy and she is giving it the time, strategies and nourishment to heal. While her progress may seem slow in the beginning, her long-term outcomes are likely to be more significant and long lasting. #bighighfive #gomum
So how can you become the master of your own recovery journey?
While there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to developing a return to exercise plan, there are a few guidelines every mum can follow to have a successful return to exercise:
1. Know your body
- Having a sound understanding of how your postnatal body is functioning and any birth injuries you have sustained will help you in selecting your return to exercise options. A pelvic floor physiotherapist is the best practitioner to see for this.
2. Take your time, lay the foundations
- Even if you feel well and have no symptoms of incontinence, returning to exercises that involve persistent bouncing (such as running) may put unnecessary pressure on your healing pelvic floor (or c-section scar). Tissues take to 6 months to 2 years to fully heal so work on laying the foundations of good movement before adding load and intensity.
- When you do progress to impact activities, make sure you start with short intervals/low weight and build from there.
3. Do your research
- Investigate the exercise options in your area and have an idea of a pathway you may follow to progress your exercise as you heal.
4. Check your trainer’s credentials
- Don’t be afraid to ask you trainer what courses they have done and their approach to postnatal coaching. If you have done steps 1-3 it will be easy to identify the most appropriate trainer for your needs.
Postnatal exercise is a bit like the Three Bears. It can’t be too hard, or too soft. It needs to be just right, FOR YOU!
It can be hard to get that balance on your own. If you would like some help putting together your very own postnatal recovery plan, book in with Christine for a one on one consultation. You can also book in for our Postnatal Return to Exercise Course here, or post a question about postnatal recovery on our Go Mum Closed Group – The Go Mum Community.
Christine is a verified provider with Health at Every Size and is a member of the Continence Foundation and Fitness Australia.