I am fresh out of my Bellies Inc course I did over the past couple days and oh man, do I have major information overload! (In a good way.)
I want to give you a brief review of my own birth history with my son before getting to the point of my post.
Before I got pregnant, I was already doing personal training, I had a couple bikini competitions under my belt, and I was teaching Body Attack (high impact HIIT class) 2-3 times per week. I continued teaching my class during my pregnancy until about 7 months, and lifted weights up until that point too.
After my delivery, which was a totally normal and uncomplicated vaginal birth, I began to exercise 6 weeks post partum. I felt fine, started slow. I had a certification in Pre and Post Natal Fitness, as well as being a fitness professional with years of education and experience under my belt. I knew that doctors are not fitness experts, so if I felt fine, why would I ask my doctor for clearance? My midwife already said everything looks okay.
I never had any leaking pee, no “mommy tummy” or poochy belly that won’t go away. Everything looked normal. I thought that because I have such a strong core, I could never have anything like a diastasis recti or pelvic floor issues.
What’s the point of my story?
I got lucky.
What is the pelvic floor? And what does it have to do with new moms?
I want to put this in very simple terms. Your pelvic floor muscles are at the bottom of your pelvis and they help control continence in the bladder and rectum and support the structures inside. If you have increased pressure from something like a baby, these structures get a lot of extra pressure added to them.
What can happen with all that pressure on the pelvic floor? Well, have you ever heard of a new (or not so new) mom laughing that she lets out a little leak every time she goes for a run? Or that she can barely hold her pee? How about diastasis recti? This is common, but should not be considered normal or something anyone should live with.
So… If every single woman that has gone through a pregnancy has had a load of pressure on their pelvic floor, and things like jumping/running/heavy lifting all have a huge effect on increased pressure…can we safely say that these activities are not so good for someone who just gave birth 6 weeks ago? Or even someone in their third trimester, where the pressure is already super high?
I wish I had known that!
But I feel fine! And I am super fit!
You may feel fine. You may not notice anything at all while you go back to exercising initially. But the odds are you will continue to apply more pressure and something has got to give. A little pee, or maybe even seeing your organs come out of your body…sounds dramatic, but it can absolutely happen! Actually, half of women develop some type of pelvic organ prolapse…and it doesn’t just happen immediately post partum. Think about how a baby, and then doing some bootcamps, and then some lifting, and then maybe another baby can all affect this over time.
But who will notice something way before that is allowed to happen? A pelvic floor physiotherapist! They will actually take a look and feel what is going on down there and how your muscles are activating. Every woman, especially post partum women, need to absolutely see one before doing ANYTHING!
I want you to remember this:
Having a dysfunction in the pelvic floor DOES NOT mean you are weak. Doing burpees at 6 weeks post partum DOES NOT mean you are strong. Squatting 200 lbs and peeing your pants is *not* all fine and dandy.
What you can (and should!) do before you work out after pregnancy
First thing is first, see a pelvic floor physiotherapist before attempting any type of activity. Next, based on their recommendations to resume activity, you can work with a Bellies Inc certified trainer to help you restore function in your pelvic floor and core. (Hint…I am one of these.)
Had I known all this, I wouldn’t have gone the route I did with heavy lifting and jumping so far into my pregnancy and then again post partum before getting checked by a PF physio. I could have quite literally pushed my bladder out of my body. I don’t want any mom suffering any of this while chasing that “dream body” the wrong way.