Exercise for Pregnancy and Postnatal
One of the most common things I hear from my Pre and Postnatal clients is…
“What exercise can I do and what exercises will be safe for me and my baby?”
“What exercises can I do as my pregnancy progresses”
“When I can start exercising after delivery”
“What exercises can I do and what should I avoid.”
People may hear different answers from different people. It is important to get good advice, especially if their are pregnancy related issues such a Pubic symphysis pain, SIJ pain, lower back pain or postural related pain.
Please check out my online course here if you are wanting a full learning experience.
It is great to know what exercise to do, but it is also important to learn how to do the exercises correctly for the most benefit.
After delivery, I work with my postnatal clients to have a new relationship with their body especially if there is Diastasis of the Rectus Abdominis Muscles (DRAM) or pelvic floor weakness resulting in incontinence. These issues may be fixed or reduced with very specific exercises.
Many Postnatal women just want their pre-pregnancy body back and start an aggressive exercise program of running, sit-ups and push ups, which in fact may not be the best choice for postnatal recovery. These types of exercises can actually cause a Diastasis of the Rectus Abdominis Muscles and Pelvic floor prolapse and make any pre-existing issues worse. It is about how to gradually introduce these exercises incrementally over a period of time, safely and slowly to prevent vulnerabilities in the body. It is about self care, and not a punishing workout program. Gradually postnatal women will be able to build up to what they were doing before.
Pregnancy and postnatal programs may need to be re-thought, and even how to move, how to lift, and even how they go to the toilet! Pregnancy and Postnatal exercise programs need to be modified in order to avoid causing an injury or pain. Don’t get me wrong, pre and postnatal women need to exercise, if fact it is essential for their health and that of their baby.
If you are struggling with your pre and postnatal exercise programming please check out my course here. This course will help to build your confidence as a Pilates Instructor or other health professional with tailored programs for every specific need of the pregnant or postnatal woman. This course is divided into small steps, to allow your confidence to grow with this special population. By committing to this course you will see results for your pregnancy and Postnatal Pilates clients or even for yourself if you are pregnant or postnatal.
Posture for Pregnancy
Working the back muscles can help to support the spine and improve posture. Good posture improves confidence whether you are pregnant, postnatal or not. This can also assist with self image. We are constantly bombarded with images of beauty especially on social media platforms such as Instagram. Unfortunately this can have an affect of making you feel less than perfect, especially if you have a Diastasis of the Rectus Abdominis Muscles. Improving posture can improve confidence and the way you see yourself. Good posture improves breathing and this can help with delivery and also mental health. Focusing on core strength and doing regular exercise is essential, and by core strength I don’t mean doing sit up. I mean working on the postural muscles of the spine, improving pelvic floor function and also increasing strength of the gluteals and muscles that surround the pelvic girdle. Doing these specific postural and core exercises little and often and teaching clients how to incorporate these exercises into their everyday activities will help with a smoother pregnancy and a speedier recovery after delivery.
Pregnancy and Postnatal exercises can be build into everyday activities such as lifting and relaxing the pelvic floor, scapular squeezes, chin tucks, or even just lengthening through the spine to create more room for the baby to grow if pregnant or to avoid the poor postnatal hunched posture that breastfeeding encourages. Becoming aware of posture and incorporating some of these simple exercises throughout the day is essential for a full pre and postnatal program. Exercises like these can simply be done while cooking, driving, or watching Netflix.
Diastasis of the Rectus Abdominis Muscles and other changes to the body after Pregnancy
It is a long journey if a client has a DRAM, so don’t expect everything will be fixed within the space of two or three months, it won’t, it is a long journey. The bones of the ribcage and pelvis may have changed also with the ribs lifting during pregnancy with the growing size of the Abdominal, and the Pelvic girdle expanding for delivery. Muscles and ligaments need time to recover. Specific exercises that focus on rebuilding the connection of the abdominals should be built into the program and exercises with excessive intra-abdominal pressure should be introduced gradually.
Balance during pregnancy
The centre of gravity changes at 20 weeks for the prenatal woman and exercise programs may need to adjust for this change as balance can be affected with pregnant women losing balance easily. As the hormone relaxin has relaxed the body at a cellular level, prenatal women bruises easily. So we really don’t want them to fall over. Programs may need to adjust from doing the high kneeling arm work on the Reformer to seated arms. Also continuing to strengthen the leg muscles is key for creating a stable base.
If you have any questions about pregnancy and postnatal please email me! I would love to hear from you!