5 Things to Know Before you Workout Postpartum
Navigating the fitness world now that your postpartum can feel even more confusing than it did before.
We speak to Amy, a personal trainer, Pre & Postnatal fitness provider and mum to two girls (with another on the way)! Amy runs a Pre & Postnatal fitness group called Baby, Bump & Beyond, which provides information and workouts, that help avoid the misinformation of the fitness industry. You can find her on Instagram at @amysnellingpt
Hi, I'm Amy. Here are my top tips to keep you focused on your goals and to avoid the predatory diet culture advice that comes for new parents. And remember to get clearance from your GP or midwife first before you workout (in Pregnancy and Postpartum).
1) Recovery looks different on everyone
Exercise and movement are often pushed as tools that can speed up post birth recovery. Whilst early mobilisation after birth (regardless of delivery) does carry benefits, recovery will look different on everybody. Try not to compare yourself to what that fitness influencer is doing, listen to your body and move at a pace that feels best for you. Parenting a new born is already an Olympic sport and daily activities like changing nappies and lifting and carrying your baby will give your body plenty of opportunities to move in a way that will support your recovery right from the start.
2) Start in your comfort zone
Whether you’re new to working out or just trying to pick up where you left off, start with what feels comfortable and build it up gradually over time. Whilst you don’t have to wrap your postpartum body in cotton wool, there are a couple of things we need to be mindful of. Your body is still producing relaxin, a hormone which can create laxity in your joints. Relaxin can increase injury risk that’s why working within your comfort zone and sticking to familiar movements is wise. Your body is also slowly reversing all of the incredible adaptations it created during pregnancy and this can contribute towards feelings of fatigue (like we need more things to make us tired!). Movement can feel great, but it’s important not to exhaust yourself in those early months.
3) Have your goals clearly in mind
One thing that I find with my postpartum clients is they are often confused about why they are exercising. Fundamentally, they know it feels good but they’ve often copycatted goals from the way postpartum bodies are spoken about – particularly in pre and post natal fitness spaces. There’s lots of talk about wanting a ‘stronger core’ or to ‘rehab the core’ which can distract people from pursing goals that are more meaningful. Firstly, we’ve got little quality evidence to suggest that postpartum bodies are weak or need ‘rehabbing’ and we don’t need to fixate on the core. Our core supports us in all the movements we do, so whether you want to start lifting weights or try roller blading, all movement gives the core a chance to work. Try focusing on goals which give you feelings of empowerment or enjoyment, not ones that focus on parts of your body that need ‘fixing’.
4) There are no ‘best exercises for’
You only need to follow one Pre & Postnatal fitness influencer to see at least one post or workout video which claims to contain the ‘best exercises’ for something. The truth is, there are no best exercises for anything. We have very little in the way of quality research that would support recommending specific exercises for diastasis recti, the pelvic floor, core strength or general recovery. Plus, your body tends to deal with all of these things in it’s own way without any intervention. Exercises should be selected based on your goals, preferences and whether or not you find them accessible. As previously mentioned, all movement is beneficial, it doesn’t have to be specific core based exercises.
5) Everyone’s trying to make your body a problem
One of the biggest problems I see in the fitness industry is the narrative that treats postpartum bodies like they are weak and broken, or that the changes that happened during pregnancy need to be removed immediately. There’s no doubt that pregnancy changes the body in a number of ways but what is it with the expectation that we have to attempt to reverse and eradicate any traces that it happened? Bodily changes during and after pregnancy are not shameful, in fact, it’s all evidence of how incredibly adaptable the human body is. Pre and post natal fitness providers that pedal the narrative that exercise and food should be geared towards ‘snapping back’ only provoke body insecurities and foster disconnection from the experience of parenthood. Being fit and feeling strong and capable both during and after pregnancy is not exclusively tied to losing weight or looking exactly the same as you did before. Weight gain during pregnancy is normal and it happens to different degrees in different people. Bodies are always changing, most of the time it’s not within our immediate control, so focusing on something that once was instead of living now in the present is unlikely to make you feel empowered or in control. Movement can be so beneficial postpartum but please don’t make it about fixing your body or ‘snapping back’.
Want to know more about Me…
Follow Amy on Instagram at @amysnellingpt
Inquire about PT and Fitness services here.