You’re a new mom who finally gets the greenlight from her doctor to start exercising. Here’s your chance to start feeling like yourself again! But wait… where do you start? What exercises are safe? And how are you actually going to find the time to exercise?
New moms often end up hitting a roadblock when they start searching for this kind of information. Why? Mostly because it doesn’t exist. When it comes to postpartum fitness and recovery, there is a severe lack of guidance available to moms. Many physicians aren’t educated on what issues to look for or how to recover from them, and the same is true of fitness coaches and trainers who haven’t had much postpartum experience.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has provided some loose guidelines for pregnant and postpartum women. And while the federal government’s recommendations on physical activity in the postpartum period say exercise is important. “Studies show that moderate-intensity physical activity during the period following the birth of a child increases a woman’s cardiorespiratory fitness and improves her mood.” They don’t provide much detail: “Women who habitually engaged in vigorous-intensity aerobic activity or who were physically active before pregnancy can continue these activities during pregnancy and the postpartum period.”
To make matters more confusing, issues such as diastasis recti (abdominal wall separation) and pelvic floor discomfort are actually quite common, occurring in over half of women who have given birth. And according to this article (LINK) from the Washington Post earlier this year, so many new moms never fully recover. They accept these issues as “normal” because they were never specifically told they have a condition or how to correct it.
This is why Active Moms’ Club’s “From the Core: Postnatal Recovery” class was created.
AMC founder and coach, Cassandra Hawkinson, has over 14 years of experience training postpartum women.
“I saw such a need for a program specifically designed for brand new moms and the struggles they face,” she says. “This class works with your recovering body, targeting issues such as abdominal wall separation, weak pelvic floor, and cesarean section. The exercises get progressively more intense, so that by the end of the 5-week program, you’ll feel stronger and more confident about what your post-baby body can do.”
Through Cassandra’s intimate, small-group workouts, moms are able to safely kick-start a regular exercise program, while gaining improved energy, strength and self-esteem—as well as the camaraderie and support of other new mothers.
“I underestimated how de-conditioned my body was post-baby and the postnatal training provided the perfect foundation from which I could re-train muscle groups and get my heart rate going,” said one participant. “Not only did I feel great from exercise but I loved meeting new people, sharing a new experience with my baby, and having a reason to venture out of the house with a newborn!”
[UPDATE: A positive effect of COVID-19— April’s session of AMC’s Postnatal Recovery Class will live-stream on Zoom. This will enable ANY new mom— in any city, state or country— to participate and gain the benefits of getting stronger post-baby. No equipment is necessary for this class, and moms won’t need a lot of space. Sessions will be recorded and shared after class in case you need a replay of the day’s workout.]
Thanks to programs like this and a gradually increasing awareness of the issues new moms face, there are options and care available for postpartum recovery. It’s important that moms be their own champions, do their research, and figure out the path that works best for them.
If you’re a new mom who’s ready to ease back into exercising, here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Be sure all post-delivery bleeding has stopped and any tearing has healed before you start being active
- If you had a c-section, your incision should be healing and there is minimal abdominal pain (commonly takes 6-8 weeks).
- Begin with low-impact aerobic activity like walking, elliptical training or swimming. A ‘green light’ to exercise does not mean your body is ready to jump back into hight intensity and exercise volume you may have been doing pre-pregnancy.
- Listen to your body and how it responds to gentle exercise.
- Feeling unusual aches or pains postpartum— do not assume they are ‘normal’ post pregnancy. Seek a script and recommendation for a Women’s Health Specialist. (A WHS is a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic pain/dysfunction, a regular physical therapist may not have the experience or knowledge to treat such issues). In other countries, going to physical therapy is standard practice after delivering a baby, vaginally or via surgery. If you’re in Chicagoland, check out AMC’s trusted and recommended Women’s Health Specialist here – they’re the best of the best.
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