We are gearing up to celebrate our first birthday at the studio (OMG!!) and it’s been a great week for me to reflect back on where I started (even before the studio) and how much I’ve learned and all the memorable moments I’ve had with all the women I’ve had the honour of coaching and connecting with.
And it made me think, what are the top questions I get asked as an expert in pre & postnatal fitness?
As moms we have a tooooooon of questions during pregnancy and postpartum.
- When do I need to change my exercise routine?
- What is safe for me and the baby?
- Can I still lift heavy?
- Is running ok?
- Will doing sit ups wreak my core or make it stronger?
- Why am I peeing myself when I XYZ?
- What’s that heaviness sensation in my pelvis?
- How will I know that I’m ready to do more?
- When will I ever NOT have bags under my eyes?! (I ask this daily 🥺)
Trying to sort through the mass amount of information we find using Dr. Google, our moms groups or social media often leads to even more questions because we see a vast difference of opinions.
So today I figured I’d answer some of the most common conversations I have with clients as a pre/postnatal fitness expert. We can sort through some of the BS and talk about what’s fact vs fiction. That way, you can always come back to this and share it with friends and family to help reduce the amount of bad information floating around.
#1 – “I heard sit-ups are a no no during pregnancy and postpartum because it causes diastasis and can wreck my core – is this true?”
UGH, I get really frustrated with coaches and practitioners telling people these lies.
First off, diastasis is a naturally occurring process during pregnancy and is required for the body to grow large enough for the baby to grow in utero. To believe that it’s caused by sit-ups is fear tactics and misinformation.
However, at a certain point during pregnancy, it’s just not going to be comfortable to lie on our backs and the intention of a sit-up (usually to strengthen the rectus abdominals) is lost because they are not functioning in their normal state.
During postpartum, a sit up type movement is something we often do in our daily life. We sit up out of bed, we curl up off he floor, etc. Which means, I believe that we should be training this movement using the strategy that works best for us. Which strategy is best? Well that takes some work between me and you to figure out, but it’s not too difficult! We can usually come up with an answer in as little as 30 mins.
Sit ups don’t wreck your core. Repetitive movement or consistent tendencies like excessive pressure or stress to the midline MAY cause damage to the linea alba. But so can genetics, nutrition (this is my belief BTW but I don’t know if there is research to back it up) and lifestyle. And having diastasis doesn’t mean your core is wrecked. I have a diastasis and am just fine!
I could honestly talk about this at great lengths, BUT, for the sake of keeping this short and sweet I’ll summarize like this – When choosing exercise during pregnancy and postpartum, I always lead with intention. WHY do we do it, what are the benefits and do they outweigh the risks? This will likely change frequently so always come back to intention and go from there. For the record, I am #teamsitups.
#2 – “I had a csection(s) and/or have never peed myself or anything, so I don’t need to see a pelvic floor physio or be concerned with the type of exercise I am doing“
This is also FALSE.
Even before we are pregnant, our lifestyle and tendencies can have an impact on our pelvic floor function. Many women can experience urinary leaking, prolapse or other signs of pelvic floor dysfunction without ever having a baby.
During pregnancy, our pelvic floor is put under months of increased pressure, a change in tendencies (how we stand, breath, move, etc.) and the weight alone of the baby, fluids and such can affect the pelvic floor tissues and function. Obviously delivering a baby or the act of pushing (even if it results in a c-section) can cause increased trauma to the pelvic floor than not delivering vaginally, BUT, that doesn’t mean you are risk free. I’ve delivered 2x via c-section and have a grade 1 bladder prolapse (non symptomatic), hemorrhoids and have experienced leaking.
Did you know that 33% of women who are not symptomatic will experience symptoms in 5-7 years? Regardless of your history or experience, see a pelvic health physio to understand what is happening in your body and learn your risk factors. Then have a qualified trainer assess the exercises you are doing during pregnancy, postpartum and beyond to give you your best chance at remaining symptoms free.
#3 – “My kids are older now and I’m still experiencing symptoms (leaking, prolapse, pain) – is it too late for me to get better?”
I love getting this question because pelvic health and postpartum support is really just becoming a hot topic the past few years. There wasn’t such a buzz around 5+ years ago which means so many of us with older kids (myself included!) are now seeing all this new information and thinking “holy crap!! That’s me!! Can this help me? Can this fix me?” And it’s amazing for me to be able to tell you that THERE IS SO MUCH HOPE.
I will never answer this question with a YES or a guarantee though. That would be irresponsible of me. Because there is never a guarantee that symptoms will get better. There is always the promise that if we have the right team supporting us, we can understand our symptoms and why they might be happening and we can learn to manage them and hopefully reduce future risk. We don’t have to just deal with symptoms and we don’t have to allow symptoms to dictate our lifestyle in a negative manner. It’s never too late to get help.
Mama – listen. I know it’s tough trying to do what’s “right” and it’s so easy to fall into the trap of believing that what we’ve done in the past was wrong or is the reason we are experiencing symptoms. (mom guilt is real YO!)
If I let myself go back to all the things I did during pregnancy and postpartum, phew, I would likely never come out of that rabbit hole.
But we can’t do that. All we can do is take the information we have NOW and make the best of it. Taking reasonable and educated steps towards advocating for our body and seeking out the most evidence based information out there. Never allowing ourselves to be lead by fear or people who prey on our insecurities.
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till next week! Christy xo