My name is Nina and I have been a qualified advanced Personal Trainer and Fitness instructor since 2005. I decided to focus my training in women’s fitness during pregnancy and the postnatal period as my full time career as a midwife over the last 21 years gave me the insight and experience to work with this specialist group. I have two young children, and feel that I have both personal and professional knowledge, to understand the challenges women face with looking after their health and fitness during childbearing.
I am also an experienced massage therapist and amongst many other therapies. I specialise in pregnancy massage, fertility and induction reflexology and caesarean scar massage and mobilisation.
Exercise after Childbirth
Conventional exercise is never going to assist in rehabilitation, as it does not address the essentials of a women who has birthed. You have dramatically changed your body's physiology during your childbearing, your anatomy changed shape, your centre of gravity altered, your core was loaded to the max.
Your core is completely and literally at the centre of everything you do. This was so affected during childbearing, that it needs focus and special attention to get it functioning normally again, allowing you to progress in your fitness and wellbeing.
Even if you were fit before and during your pregnancy, the muscles in your abdominal area have been stretched, your pelvic floor has had a large weight pushing down on it for many months, and the tissues in your vagina and pelvic floor will be stretched if you birthed by caesarean.
Now that baby isn't providing stability in your mid region, you need to work at those muscles, ligaments and connective tissue, to get them back to being strong and functional once more.
The first sign of complete lack of core strength comes when your back, starts to ache after holding your baby for just a few minutes, or your pelvic floor feels heavy, or that your tummy feels 'poochy' and unable to hold you upright. Because your abdominal muscles are giving you no support, your back is working overtime trying to keep your torso upright. And, for some mamas, you’ve got that extra weight from your boobs pulling you forward.
How Pregnancy Affects the Core
When you think of the core, chances are you think of the abs. However, the core actually consists of all the muscles that encompass your midsection, including your back, pelvis and hips. As you have probably already experienced, pregnancy wreaks havoc on these areas. Between the stretched and weakened abdominal muscles, the shortened and overworked back muscles, and the slightly unstable hips that seem to have gotten a bit wider, there’s a good chance you’ll find that your usual HIIT or weights programme now feels like a personal record attempt.
"Now is the time to get back to basics and work on rebuilding your core before you get busy trying to jump, run, lift or do intense forms of exercise"
This doesn’t necessarily mean your strength is gone, but rather that the all-important ability to create the intra-abdominal pressure necessary to stiffen and keep your torso erect is no longer possible.
Diastasis recti should be assessed before carrying out any exercise. This occurs when the connective tissue between your abdominal muscles thins, causing your muscles to separate. This is a common pregnancy condition, but some women may experience a more severe case.
One to two finger-widths is normal and may close on its own, but it is more important that you strengthen the tissue between the muscles, for overall core strength. If your gap is wider than three finger-widths, you need to see a specialist to help give you the right tools to help improve this.
Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) is an issue that affects the ligaments in the front of your pelvis. These ligaments that are supposed to keep your pelvis aligned become lax. This leads to instability in the pelvic joint, allowing it to move in ways it was never intended to move.
SPD is not only painful, but it also affects your workout after pregnancy. Squats, lunges, step ups, and side lateral jumps or steps can be impossible to do without pain.
SPD and diastasis can lead to pelvic pain and so it is important to build up correct functioning of the core using correct breathing and pelvic floor activation as well as working the deeper core muscles (The transverse abs). Strengthening the core muscles and using them correctly with help to stabilise the ligaments and skeleton improving discomfort, stabilising the pelvis, and laying a solid foundation for the exercise you used to enjoy.
Your diaphragm and pelvic floor are also very important elements of your core. These both work together and form the top and bottom of your core, and if one is out of sync, it affects the other, and also has a knock on effect on your back and abdominal 'walls' of your core. If you don't recover your core properly, and continue with your usual workouts, or routine, you''ll probably find you will experience more injury and pain, and find it difficult to progress your fitness. Over time, if your posture is compromised, due to lack of core strength, muscles adapt and hold you in alignment that can cause further issues, such as loss of strength and function in their glute (bottom), hip and upper back muscles, leading to further complications that will take longer to correct. It is always wise to take your time to strengthen weakness and release tightness in your body properly after childbirth, to prevent problems later on in life such as, abdominal hernia, pelvic organ prolapse, urinary or bowel incontinence and chronic pelvic, neck, shoulder and back pain.
Ask yourself the following questions:
What is the main issue that is troubling you right now?
What are your 3 health goals you would like to achieve in the next 3 months?
How will you manage these goals?
If you feel what you need to achieve needs some support, then Mama Wellness is the place to get help. visit the website for all the services offered and for how to book. www.mamawellness.co.uk
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