Movement for Mothers
We all know the profound health & wellbeing benefits of exercise. I don’t need to sit over here telling you that you need to make movement a priority. Nor am I here to tell you how to lose baby weight, or fix your ‘mummy tummy’. I called BS on that a long time ago. Instead, what I want to share with you are some truths around postnatal movement & exercise.
When I think about postnatal movement, the first thing that comes to mind is ‘core & pelvic floor’. This in itself is a huge topic! There is so much conflicting information out there, perhaps because people are motivated by conflicting agendas. What I believe women need is good evidence-based information that remains grounded in a Woman’s right to choose.
Often, one of these key pieces is missing. Good reliable information is served in a way that strips a woman of her sense that she has a right to choose. On the other hand, there is so much information out there that is so utterly opinion based; or based on just one individual’s personal experience, that it can only pertain to the individual who is sharing it. Why? Because every woman’s pregnancy, birth, and postnatal journey are so different!
This can leave a woman feeling lost, confused & broken in her body. If this is you, I hope that some of what I share today will help to guide you in a new direction.
You are the exception, not the rule!
Every woman’s pregnancy, birth, postnatal journey & body are unique & different. It makes sense that we treat them that way. When it comes to postnatal exercise, blanket statements & ‘rules’ simply can’t apply. So how do we know what our body is capable of, where our limitations lie, and how we exercise ‘safely’ after baby?
The best way to know is to have a personalised assessment with a Women’s Health Physiotherapist that understands movement & exercise. A Women’s Physiotherapist will conduct and internal vaginal examination of your pelvic floor, and tell you about the strength of your pelvic floor, as well as the position of your pelvic organs. This is very different to an assessment that is conducted by your GP, OB or Gyne. An internal assessment is also far superior & more accurate than an ultrasound that some therapists may use.
Following this, a personalised progressive ‘return to exercise’ program can be established. A good therapist will be able to show you how to monitor & modify your exercise according to your goals & your body.
‘Signs & Symptoms’ don’t equal a ‘diagnosis’
There are some key ‘warning signs’ to look out for when exercising, some of which many women ignore because they have been lead to believe that they are ‘normal’ after having a baby.
The warnings signs include:
Incontinence/ leakage from the bladder or bowel
Heaviness or a dragging sensation in the pelvic area
A bulging sensation in the vagina
Low back pain
These symptoms can be an indication that your core is not coping with the demands of the exercise. They can also be the precursor to Pelvic Organ Prolapse, or a signal that a prolapse has already occurred.
Often women believe that leakage during exercise is ‘normal’, and that they have a weak pelvic floor. Leaking during exercise is common, but it’s not ‘normal’. As I mentioned before, it can be a ‘warning sign’ that a prolapse could result. Nor does Leakage mean that you have a weak pelvic floor. Yes, it’s a possibility, but it’s just as likely that you have an overactive pelvic floor…
Some pelvic organ prolapses have what I call ‘silent symptoms’ meaning that a woman won’t have any symptoms, but a prolapse can be present. The concern with this is that a prolapse can worsen without warning.
Again, to understand the condition of your core & pelvic floor and to reduce the ‘risks’ associate with exercise, the best thing to do is to seek help from a Women’s Health Physiotherapist.
It’s not all about your pelvic floor!
Whilst it’s a key part of the puzzle, the pelvic floor is just one part of your body. If you experience exercise-related pelvic symptoms how you exercise is just as important as the condition of your pelvic floor.
There are many factors to consider and multiple options to exhaust before any woman should be told not to engage in a particular exercise. How you engage your core, how you breathe, your posture & dynamic movement can all impact exercise relate pelvic symptoms. The key here is to find a therapist that understands postnatal movement & exercise. Not all Women’s Physiotherapists have a keen interest in movement & exercise and don’t always possess the skills required to help you move in a way that feels good to you. Find one that can!
Finally, you are not broken!
You are a strong, capable & resilient woman that gave the gift of life to another human being. Your body may have changed, but it’s not broken. As human beings, we live in a body that is forever transitioning and changing, even more so as women. Celebrate the body you are in, as it is right now. It’s yours to love, enjoy & journey in this lifetime.
More on our guest author – Taryn!
Taryn is a Women’s Physiotherapist specialising in Pre & Postnatal Core & Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy, Movement & Exercise, & Embodiment Therapy. Quite simply, Taryn helps you to know & understand your body better, so that you can heal physically & emotionally from the inside out.
In showing you how, rather than telling you that you can’t! That when you are in deep connection with your body, your body will show you the way! That you deserve to feel really really good in your body!
Taryn’s therapeutic approach is a unique blend of holistic therapy. Think science meets soul! Her study as a Women’s Physiotherapist; experience as a Mother; passion & resilience as an athlete; daily dedication to movement & mindfulness, & her continued commitment to self development, is what makes Taryn the therapist that she is.
Taryn’s passion is to help women to deeply connect with their physical body, to strengthen their mind-body connection & to understand their mind-body mindset so that they can feel at home in their body. She says “To me, there is nothing better than witnessing a woman accessing her own’s body’s wisdom – however that may look for her.”
Want to feel prepared, organised and confident during your Postpartum with your newborn baby? Book in your free complimentary call with Ashley to deep dive into some of your concerns and take some steps to set yourself up for a Peaceful Postpartum!