'ANY EXERCISE' is not good enough postpartum - it is time to change how we think about postpartum
When you are deeply passionate about something it can be so frustrating feeling like nothing is changing - there are days when I feel like I'm hitting my head on a brick wall as new mums and bubs boxing classes start up 🤦♀️. But then, thankfully, there are days when I'm greeted with a beautiful message from a happy client who's back in to running after having a baby - now symptom free.
I'm constantly reminded that there is STILL no regulations in NZ for pre and postnatal instructors to have ANY qualifications. In fact, to teach any classes/bootcamps here you don't even need to have a basic group fitness qualification.*
*(some gyms require REPs registration for group fitness instructors so some form of qualification or experience is necessary or they offer internal training).
Being a PT isn't enough - As a Personal Trainer, my year long qualification course consisted of just a poster presentation on 'special populations' from one of the groups in class - their topic was training a pregnant client. That group likely spent approx 1 hour researching it and the rest of the class spent approx 10mins listening about it. THAT WAS IT. Was the course fantastic, yes!! Did it equip me to become a personal trainer, yes!! (**well, yes apart from a pretty large chunk of the population). Did it give me any real understanding of pelvic floor dysfunction, diastasis recti or pregnancy/postpartum postural changes? Not at all.
Being a MUM isn't enough - As a mother, I have had to navigate my way through my own pregnancy and postpartum training. I have had to work on core recovery and I've also had to juggle the responsibilities that come with being a mum! I have tried and tested what worked for me this time around! Does that give me the knowledge to show other mums what to do? Absolutely not!! Gosh every mothers journey, every birth experience is so different! Multiples, previous pregnancies, position in utero, previous and current activity levels, birth injury/trauma, c-section, postpartum symptoms - so many things I would know very little about (if at all) from my own experience.
1 in 3 women postpartum will have pelvic floor dysfunction (including leaking when you cough). 1 in 3. 1 in 3!!! So 1 in 3 women after having a baby need to be addressing their PFD SYMPTOMS during exercise to not exacerbate symptoms - and also to help with the healing process!
Ab separation is another common postpartum issue that is so often over-looked. You may have heard that we should avoid sit ups postpartum, but YOGA inversions (down dog) can create just as much intra abdominal pressure (if either are not performed well). Doing these with diastasis recti can exacerbate symptoms.
This is where community groups and unqualified trainers are doing us a real disservice - yes encouraging movement is fantastic, yes there are so many benefits to exercising, and for the most part any exercise is better than none - BUT this is where we need to CHANGE HOW WE THINK ABOUT POSTPARTUM TRAINING!!!! Because unfortunately doing 'any training' can actually make our symptoms worse, it can CAUSE lifelong injuries and it can really interfere with our quality of life!! Being pushed to hold a full plank or to jump is NOT the trainer getting the best from you if by doing that you are ignoring the nagging postpartum symptoms you are feeling. Encouraging participants to perform inappropriate exercises, with poor execution (including breath connection and pressure management) and not having any awareness of postpartum issues such as ab separation or PFD is actually DAMAGING - and although with good intent, it needs to be called out.
HardCORE Fitness Pre and Postnatal Training
Led by Lisa who is a new mum herself to a little boy. She is very knowledgable in pre and postnatal fitness and specialises in CORE STRENGTH and FUNCTIONALITY (including Pelvic floor, glutes and lower abs)... an expert on exercises and pressure management techniques that help to close ab separation (and create a flat tummy if that's your goal) and very aware of those that can sometimes actually hinder our success.
Qualified PT and Group Fitness Instructor, REPS's registered.
Certified 'Pre and Postnatal Coach' - Girls Gone Strong, Coaching and Training Women Academy.
- This is the most comprehensive, truly interdisciplinary, evidence-based course that stands alone at the top of the industry.
Registered 'Pelvic Floor Safe Fitness Professional'
(Incontinence NZ, 2018).