Fitness Coach Advice For Exercise During Pregnancy and Postpartum

Physical well-being is a major focus for many moms-to-be.

  • How does physical exercise fit into preparing for birth?
  • What is the right amount of exercise for a new mom and what does that exercise look like?
  • What exercises can help prevent issues like prolapse?
  • How do we as women cut through all of the harmful messaging about body image that preys on women at one of the most vulnerable periods in their lives?

Here to answer some of those questions is Brianna Battles, a strength and conditioning coach with her own practice out of Thousand Oaks, California. She specializes in women’s health and fitness and, in particular, in prenatal and postnatal athleticism.

Diastasis recti, vaginal prolapse (NSFW link), and pelvic floor disorders are highly common issues. However, just because these issues are common, it doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do. There are fitness strategies women can develop that are designed to help them stay as injury-free and healthy as possible during their pregnancy as well as after their baby is born. And if one of these issues arises? “Be your own advocate for your health”, Brianna encourages. She makes the point that if something in your body doesn’t feel right, say something about it and get the help you need. (She should know, having experienced an emergency C-Section and diastasis recti herself.)

The primary message for this episode is to take the time you need to heal. Don’t rush to “get your body back” because it is easy to do more harm than good by pushing your body too hard before it is ready. The best thing to do for your body right after having a baby is to rest and recover. There are people out there (such as pelvic floor physical therapists) who want to help you and who have the right tools to help you. It is okay that your body takes time to heal and build strength back. There are smart ways to develop strength and function, such as learning how posture and breathing can help you in everyday activities. When your body is ready, and that could be months or years after giving birth, you can develop a fitness strategy that is appropriate for yourself. The most important thing is to avoid self-inflicted injury by allowing your body to heal.

Here’s an excerpt from Brianna’s site (http://everyday-battles.com/2016/05/when-it-all-comes-together-diastasis-recti-healed/

Your exercises will not work unless you have a strategy (alignment, connecting the dynamic relationship between the core and pelvic floor and dialed in movement patterns) that supports core function. For example, a common Diastasis exercise is a heel slide, or bird dog. I see these exercises in nearly all DR programs. For ME, my core- fascia and closure was made WORSE when doing these “simple” exercises. It wouldn’t respond! Yet, when given a greater stimulus- a 135lb deadlift (again, 2 years postpartum here, people) and used the piston breathing- my fascia fired and abs came together. Is this right for everyone? NO. But, it proves the point that there’s no one size fits all approach to healing this. It’s essential to work with a qualified coach and Pelvic Floor PT.  I had a very complicated Diastasis- one side pulled further over, the mesh from the hernia repair, a screwed up hip flexor, a weird rib, severe scar tissue around my c-section and even my left shoulder, were variables that impacted closure.  It took so much troubleshooting and patience, but Julie’s brain is incredible and together we kept working to where we were both at peace with my rehab. I never had to give up my training- I just adapted and added some things (form, breath, new movements), but at no point did I have to stop my training completely or take on an exercise routine that was “boring or lame.”

Listen to Brianna share her own story and advice on developing safe exercise strategies on Episode 20 of the Fourth Trimester Podcast. Click here for iTunes and click here for Google Play. Enjoy! xo

P.S. We are also a fan of Brianna’s take on baby boot camps. (Please be careful mamas! You have to read this before you sign up for that stroller power class.)