We have an exciting surprise this week... a guest blogger, Athens' own Hannah Gay of Baby Boot Camp! We know many of you already love Hannah and Baby Boot Camp, but here's a short intro to clue the rest of you in: Baby Boot Camp is an innovative stroller fitness program that helps moms regain or enhance pre-pregnancy fitness levels and meet the physical challenges of parenting by emphasizing strength training in a supportive environment. Hannah has been serving Athens families for years, and we're so thankful that she was willing to contribute her knowledge and expertise to us. Please check out her contact info (below) and get in touch with her if you'd like any further iformation about her programs. We hope you enjoy the information she has to offer postpartum mamas as they safely get back into the swing of exercise!
Just because you can doesn't mean that you should. This is my mantra for prenatal and postpartum fitness thanks to Kristen Horler, Founder and CEO of Baby Boot Camp. Over the past few years we’ve been seeing trends of women lifting heavy barbells over their head at 8 months pregnant and running marathons at 8 weeks postpartum. Don’t get me wrong- I think these women are amazing. They have unbelievable strength, endurance and dedication. They’re breaking away from the norm and demonstrating just how incredible a woman’s body is. But every time I see these photos I wince a little knowing that their pelvic floor is being negatively impacted. Not to mention that these “super moms” are setting the bar slightly out of reach for the rest of us who are doing good just to be waddling through Target. So today I’m going to share with you how to exercise safely and when to know to modify your routine.
An obstetrician’s typical recommendation for prenatal exercise is to keep up with your current routine. This is great but for most of us it becomes unrealistic at some point in our pregnancy and we can get frustrated or discouraged. So when should you start modifying your exercise program? Any pain at all is a red flag. Your body is facing some major changes… You’re growing a human! Your hips can widen, your rib cage will expand. The hormone Relaxin begins running through your body which can cause us to overstretch/ pull muscles. It’s also the contribotor to your growing feet. Awesome, right!? All that to say; if you’re a runner or a lifter and your feet or hips start to hurt then it’s time to back off. We’ve started to dangerously classify pain is normal but it’s not. It’s common, not normal.
Another red flag: leakage. *gasp*. Most of us have been there. You’re doing something as part of your daily routine and a little pee comes out (insert embarrassed face emoji). This is a sign of the stress that your pelvic floor is under. So again, common but not normal. The bottom line is if you're experiencing pain or leakage during your typical workout then it’s time to listen to your body and give yourself a break. It’s ok to take a nice walk instead of running. Shorten your range of motion during strength exercises. Chose the light weights or just use your body weight. And please don’t ever compromise your form during an exercise. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone! And if you’re experiencing leaking from coughing or sneezing you might want to try a pregnancy support belt just to lighten the pressure on your pelvic floor.
Let’s fast forward to postpartum exercise. I don’t let new moms attend my classes until they are 6 weeks post vaginal delivery and 8 weeks post cesarean. No exceptions. Here’s where the mantra comes in. Let’s all say it: just because you can doesn't mean that you should. You might feel like you’re back to semi-normal around 4 weeks or so. This is where it’s important to enjoy those walks with your new baby. Internally your organs are still finding their place, your pelvic floor is still very weak, and you may have an abdominal separation known as Diastasis Recti. But once you reach that 6/8 week mark it doesn’t mean it’s time to go full beast mode. You’re going to start back slowly with walking and low impact movement. Think: no jumping, light weights, knee push-ups and planks.
I have another magic number for you and that is to follow Baby Boot Camp’s 16 Week Rule. Yes, you read that right. 16 weeks, a.k.a. 4 months!! Once you reach 4 months postpartum you can finally begin running by following a few guidelines. Start with running/walking intervals and keep your runs to short distances. Any leakage? If yes then listen to your body and go back to walking. Can you jump from a curb with two feet, landing on two feet? Any pain in your pelvis or trunk? Any leakage? If yes then you’ve got some work to do before getting into high impact movements.
So here’s what I suggest if you’ve reached 16 weeks postpartum and you’re still experiencing some abnormalities. Make an appointment with your OBGYN to discuss your concerns. Try getting in with the ARMC pelvic floor physical therapists. Sign up for the Core9 Diastasis Repair workshop at Thrive Integrative Medicine. Please just don’t ignore it. Pelvic floor pain and leakage are common but they’re not normal and my hope is that every mother can will be able to exercise at their desired level without feeling worried or embarrassed. Also, remember that taking care of yourself postpartum is just as important as taking care of your baby. Make a self-care plan, discuss it with your partner and find some time to do what you love!
Hannah Gay is the owner and lead instructor at Baby Boot Camp Athens, the area’s first stroller fitness program. She has a group fitness certification through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA). She has perinatal fitness training through Baby Boot Camp and is a licensed Core9 Birth Recovery and Diastasis Repair provider. She has two sons, Henry (3 yrs.) and Cullen (16 mos.). She enjoys a good Netflix binge session with some wine and dark chocolate!
Ways to contact Hannah:
706-614-1814 (text or call)