When I had my kiddo 4 years ago and started my postnatal journey. I was in a rush to get my body back into shape. After my 6-week clearance from my OBGYN, I went back to my usual exercise routine. Since I was a personal trainer at the time, I jumped back into what I considered a good and easy core workout. Little did I know that I was creating more problems for my pelvic floor and potentially even hindering my own postpartum success.
What was happening to me?
I thought I was doing easy core work that should leave me feeling stronger and better, not worse!
Postpartum Exercises? Postnatal Pilates Tailored to New Mamas
Fast forward 4 years — it has taken almost all that time to put my body back together. I wish I could have started my journey to the “pre-baby body” with postnatal Pilates. I made so many mistakes as a fitness professional and new mom, simply because I didn’t know how to find, engage, and strengthen my weak core. What I learned along the way and now teach is Postnatal Pilates that is tailored to new moms and provides specific exercises and movements that every new mom benefits from.
Having a safe class for c-section and diastasis recti (ab separation) means:
● Safely working on restoring strength and function to the core muscles
● Learning how to relax and engage your pelvic floor
● Gently moving the spine
● Strengthening the hips and glutes
● Incorporating light weights and more challenging moves so you don’t feel broken at the end
One of our WEM physiotherapists, Amy Glidner, says:
“Postnatal Pilates improves core strength and hip stability to prevent orthopedic pain”.
Pain is all I had as a new mom. I can think back to the days when my knees ached while climbing stairs, my low back hurt sitting in the rocking chair, and how all I wanted was to move and be pain free. Instead of rehabilitating my body, I was more concerned about “training” it – trying to get a flat stomach and toned arms. That workout regime wasn’t wrong, just not right for me. It turns out that in order to train your muscles, first you need to rehabilitate them.
Where to Start? The Foundational Work
The societal pressure to ‘bounce back’ or ‘get your body back after baby’ is not realistic. That body is no more available to you at THIS moment that your former self is. While you may get back to how you looked and felt before having a baby, and you might not; it’s important to have enough grace for yourself along the way. It took 9 months to grow that tiny human. Your body made a lot of changes along the way. It’s not realistic to expect that all of that would “bounce back” within weeks of having a baby.
I believe that every birthing person should give themselves adequate time – this means months – to heal from the trauma of birth, and to learn how to move slowly, how to engage their core and deep core muscles properly, so their fitness goals have longevity. I support and teach a variety of Pilates and fitness classes for all ages and stages,, but when it comes to postpartum “exercise” it needs to start with foundational work.
What is the Best Advice for PostPartum Rehab?
My biggest advice to new moms would be that getting into shape postpartum is a journey, don’t rush it and be mindful that core strength takes time to build. Once you have it you can start doing the activities you are passionate about, even if that’s just walking pain free. Working with an experienced instructor can make all of the difference. We’d love to see you at any one of the prenatal and postpartum pilates classes that we offer!
Most importantly, always remember: Your body is amazing, especially in its ability to recover and restore.
About Jen Hodgkinson, Pilates Instructor
Jen Hodgkinson is a certified Pilates Instructor, personal trainer and mom who created a Baby and Me Workout Group while on Mat Leave 2 years ago. She is passionate about easing new moms back into fitness safely in a fun environment! She’s happy to hold, crawl or walk with your little one, while you get your workout on! All fitness levels welcome. You can read more about Jen Hodgkinson here.
To read more about PostPartum check out our blog: How to Care for your Pelvic Floor Postpartum