After giving birth, many women are eager to get back into shape and regain their pre-pregnancy fitness levels and shape! However, it's important to approach postnatal fitness with care and attention to avoid common mistakes that can hinder your recovery and overall well-being and in some cases cause new problems. In this blog post, we'll explore some of the most frequent postnatal fitness mistakes and offer practical advice on how to avoid them. It's important to remember that your body has changed and that you aren't the same person now, BUT that doesn't mean you can't be in even better condition, shape or wellness than you were pre-baby. AND to add to that I am very much an advocate for changing the social pressures of the 'bounce-back' culture! This is the reason we put ourselves under so much pressure and it's hurting our physical and mental health! Research shows that your body can be in the 'postnatal' phase for as long as 3 years after you give birth! That is way more than most women are aware of or are told about!
1. Rushing Back into Intense Workouts:
One of the most common mistakes is attempting high-intensity workouts too soon after childbirth. Your body needs time to heal and recover and your pelvic floor needs time to readjust to all the changes internally! Remember all organs move around to allow for the uterus to grow to the size of a watermelon!! That alone is a huge change, then there's the pressure on the pelvic floor all through the pregnancy and then the birth. So even if you had a C-section, there has still been a huge pressure on the pelvic floor through the pregnancy that the body has to readjust to.
Helpful Tip: Start with gentle exercises like walking with the baby in the pushchair and Thoracic breathing with very mild actuation of the pelvic floor. This will help to reconnect the brain and muscles again. Pilates early-postpartum moves like the foot slide and low-impact cardio routines can be found on my MSP app, or follow me on social media to see helpful videos for more.
2. Neglecting the Pelvic Floor:
As we mentioned the pelvic floor undergoes significant stress during pregnancy and childbirth, but many women neglect to focus on its recovery. Checking what is going on internally can be a complete game changer. Many women experience a traumatic childbirth and this can have a significant impact on the nerves and in turn the ability to feel your pelvic floor and core muscles.
Helpful Tip: Seek professional help! Seeing a Pelvic Health Physio after the safe time period is a GAME CHANGER!! They can show you on the real-time ultrasound exactly what you're feeling when you contract your pelvic floor and if in fact, you're contracting correctly! There is still approx 30% of women that incorrectly contract their pelvic floor! That's a huge number, then add to that the fact you have a weakened response to the pelvic floor following childbirth. Getting this help will mean you perform ALL your training and daily functions with the correct technique and activation. Meaning, you will be actively healing your body and NOT causing more issues!!
3. Ignoring Proper Nutrition:
Poor nutrition can hinder postnatal recovery and affect your energy levels, especially if you're breastfeeding. Did you know you need an extra 200 calories a day, whilst breastfeeding? And yes I mean nutrient-dense foods, not more chocolate or chips hahaha.
Helpful Tip: Pay attention to your diet, ensuring it includes a balanced mix of nutrients to support healing and provide energy for daily activities. I have provided a few options in previous email chats as to nutrients needed postpartum, breastfeeding mamas or not. Click the link here to read more: https://shoutout.wix.com/so/dfOhjaPF3?languageTag=en
4. Sleep baby, sleep!!- Rest:
Lack of sleep and overexertion!! Damn, this topic! It is a nightmare (dad-joke haha) Need I add any more? It's talked about the death, right? We all know we need it and we seriously want it. But how do we get it?
Helpful Tip: Prioritize rest and sleep, and don't hesitate to ask for help from friends or family so you can catch up on rest. I know it can be hard to ask, but it is that important or you will hinder your recovery. I also had to look at out-the-box ideas, when my 3rd baby was a baby. I ended up in a queen-sized floor-bed so that I could sleep whenever I was feeding her to sleep. This meant I also got some sleep. I know this option is not for everyone. Reach out to other Mama's and get ideas from where you can to get more sleep into your day.
5. Not Listening to Your Body:
Pushing through pain or discomfort can lead to injuries and setbacks in your postnatal journey and beyond. I meet and work with women on a weekly basis who are 3+ years postnatal and they are still suffering those postnatal issues because they pushed through and didn't seek help.
Helpful Tip: Always pay attention to how your body feels, listen to what its telling you and remember that issues like leaking, pelvic pressure, low back pain, neck, shoulder and wrist pain are not to be 'put-up-with!!' they can be changed. If something doesn't feel right, consult with a healthcare professional.
6. Neglecting Core Recovery:
Many women focus on external abdominal exercises without addressing core recovery, particularly if they have diastasis recti (abdominal separation).
Helpful Tip: Working with trainers like myself, who specialise in postpartum conditions and recovery means you will be focusing on the core recovery as the foundation of your training, then building from there.
7. Comparing Yourself to Others:
This is a huge one!! and yes, I'm guilty of it too!! Even with all my training and knowledge, I do know better, but its so hard to not compare your journey to another person. Every woman's postnatal journey is unique, and comparing your progress to others can be demoralising. Not to mention the impact this has on your mental health, which as you know has a horrible effect on your hormones.
Helpful Tip: Focus on your own progress and notice all the small wins you have personally. Set realistic, individualized goals and allow yourself the grace of not being perfect all the time because no one is!
In short Mama, be patient!! Care for yourself like you would a best friend and focus on your overall well-being. Remember that postpartum recovery is a unique journey for each woman, so be kind to yourself and prioritize your health and healing. And most of all enjoy your little bundle of joy!They truly don't stay little and so precious for long.