…. and what you should NOT!
Yesterday I taught my usual Tuesday morning Buggyfit and as always, many topics of conversation came up, but one in particular has prompted me to put pen to paper (or finger tips to keyboard) and that was around the subject of expectations and the reality of a postnatal exercise class.
Over the many years of teaching exercise to women in this precious phase of their life, I have invested in and partaken in many different postnatal education courses and programmes. It is an area that I am SO passionate about and I predict I will continue that education for many many years to come. Similarly, in the same period of time I have had the privilege to train a vast number of women anywhere from 6 weeks to YEARS (decades even) postnatal. This affords a fair amount of experience and I learn from every single one of them.
Yesterday I heard of a lady who had been to an outdoor buggy style exercise class and afterwards had deemed herself ‘not ready yet’. The reason why? Star jumps had been required of her – not even in the main section of the class, but in the warm up. I would imagine that I barely need to start a discussion on why this would perhaps be an ill advised exercise choice for a women who has recently birthed, but maybe that would do continence pad companies out of business. That aside, it’s a pretty hardcore way to warm up!
So here’s the thing. If you are newly postnatal and you EVER go to a class calling itself postnatal you really should expect the following:
- a thorough screening, that includes questions about your birth, (how you gave birth, complications, pelvic floor issues)
- a check of your tummy muscles to see if you have a separation at the midline (this is called Diastasis Recti). For experienced postnatal teachers, this SHOULD NOT be a show stopper – they should be able to adapt their workout to suit you.
- sensitivity towards the fact that you may well be VERY sleep deprived, that your mood may be low and that you need to gain energy from your workout, not feel totally depleted.
- A class designed to give you energy, work your body, incorporate functional movements that are useful for your job as a mum (reaching, lunging, squatting, pushing, pulling), give you mobilisations and stretches that address common postnatal postural issues.
- Raise your heart rate without allowing you to wet your knickers!! (NB if all the other points have been ticked and that still happens, don’t stay quiet about it – let your instructor know (fine to do that in private, or not, your choice) and seek help via your GP, Women’s Health Physiotherapist or pelvic floor exercise specialist)
- Work your core FUNCTIONALLY (ie whilst doing other movements and without making things go ‘weird’ – see below)
Warning signs to consider (in other words ‘proceed with caution’):
- A high impact warm up. In fact, large amounts of high impact anything (jumps, sprints, full burpees)
- ‘Old school’ abdominal work (crunches, oblique twists, full planks)
- Blank looks on questions around tummy gaps, pelvic floor issues
- No screening
- Any exercise that makes your tummy bulge or pelvic floor leak or feel heavy
Please do keep an open dialogue on any issues that bother you. S/he should know their stuff and be approachable.
We are made to move. Let’s just make sure we are doing it right for the stage you’re at. If you ‘don’t feel ready yet’ because of a poor experience, research other options in your area. Please don’t settle for less than your precious self deserves.
For Buggyfit in Bushy Park click here
For Holistic Core Restore® Everywomen Pelvic Floor and Core courses click here