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Why the pelvic floor needs to be at the heart of postnatal fitness

What to look for in a good postpartum exercise class

Many classes for new mums market themselves with quick-fix bounce back classes, but is that optimal for healing the transformative, life changing, body shifting and sometimes tricky experience of birth and newborn life?
Here are my thoughts, tips and ideas on what to look for.

Mother and newborn baby.

The early postpartum period is full of rapid changes for both mums. Regardless of your birth and feeding experiences, all kinds of changes are taking place. As well as your uterus coming back to it’s normal size, your breasts change shape, your hormones shift, and the pressure balance within your abdomen and pelvic floor changes. It’s also highly likely that your sleep is impaired, your brain chemistry changes along with those hormones and that you’re putting baby first as you tend to their needs day and night. Not quite business as usual is it?

(feel free to pause for breath)

broken image

I know you want to feel ‘normal’ and the temptation to get out and run, or to lift like you used to is real - but you have changed. Your needs now are different. Taking care of your body postnatally will make a huge difference long term. Giving yourself time to heal, rest, restore and repair your core and pelvic floor and to look at your whole body alignment will form the foundation of your years ahead.

Choosing a class with a teacher who understands the postnatal picture, pelvic floor biomechanics, and ideally who is trauma informed is perfect.
If you aren’t sure - ask!

A woman doing crunches - but are they safe for you after birth?

Not all yoga, Pilates or fitness teacher training will include these things (in fact most don’t, not even ‘postnatal’ ones!). If you’re keen to feel confident and strong in your future make sure your pelvic floor isn’t being put under stress by unsuitable exercises. You’ll be back to lifting and running more sustainably on this path that by rushing into something fast and fierce.

Person wears a baby in a sling, are babywearing classes good for new mums?

Potential Red Flags

Classes where you wear baby.
Unless these are run by someone with training in baby wearing and a good understanding of how your and your baby’s pelvic floor could be impacted, please be careful.

Jumping about
Now, I happen to love jumping about, but after my second baby this was impossible without peeing. That's me as a yoga teacher and fitpro, someone who taught people kegels in antenatal classses. So if it's also you, don't feel bad) If thats' happening, it means the pelvic floor is not coping with the load & running and jumping best built up to.

Crunches and planks

If your pelvic floor or core doesn’t feel like it’s doing so well, avoid these without good guidance. They’re not out for everyone and not out forever but focussing on getting your foundations firm first will serve you well.

No mention of pelvic floor
Run! (Only joking, ask some questions, and if it's not the right class for you, walk away). If you’re at a postnatal class and they aren’t even talking about pelvic health, you may well be adding £££ to your future tena lady bill. I’d also be a little sceptical if it’s all about squeezing your PF muscles with kegel exercises alone.

Mums practice walking with baby using different carries and alignment in a Body Doula class in Frome. Image copyright © Emilie Joy Rowell

Good things to look out for!

  • Training through Jenny Burrell, Claire Mockridge or Isa Herrer
  • The instructor has more than basic Postnatal training
  • Classes are pelvic floor specific
  • Sentient beings aren't used as weights
  • Bonus points if they are run by physiotherapists
  • Gold star if you find a teacher that understands biomechanics and will help you work with your body to heal optimally.

I’m happy to chat if you’re have any questions or concerns.

Feel free to message me here or book in for a free 15 minute chat.