My aim on my blog (and in person) is to document my experience and advise what I wish someone had told me when I was pregnant and for my post part recovery. With my https://powex.co.uk/fit-pregnancy/ blog and this, I aim not to be ‘preachy’. I often found people’s ‘advice’ unhelpful during pregnancy because people think they know – when really they don’t know how you are or fell. I do hope that my message is really about looking after yourself properly.
Overall, I have been in complete shock and awe about what the female body can do. However, there are some fundamentals that should be appreciated before I discuss specifics.
Fundamentals of returning to exercise postnatally –
- Rehabilitate your body after pregnancy and having a baby – The female body takes a serious battering during pregnancy and giving birth. Research has shown pregnancy is like running a constant marathon and giving birth is almost super human 💪. ‘Shredding’ baby weight is possible, but won’t be helping you in the long run if you don’t focus on rehab.
- You can NOT just copy what someone else is doing on social media. The societal discussion that seems to be ‘normal’ and negative about people’s individual weight gain or not, is mean and I believe comes from a place of people not understanding women’s health and postnatal life. Every pregnancy and birth is different so will need different ante natal and post natal recovery journeys.
- Whatever ailment you may have had during pregnancy, may have a different effect on your body post partum. My pre-pregnancy pelvic girdle pain was apparently meant to ‘disappear’ once baby arrived. This in part was true, but created different problems in my postnatal recovery. I still 18 months down the line have pelvic and hip struggles. My whole body took a hit through pregnancy that will take years to rehab, not 3 months.
- Exercise really is a clever way of rebalancing your mind and body but get specialist help if you need it. The UK GP check, I do not think is sufficient to make a judgement on your ability to start or get back into exercise.
- A post natal body is now your forever body.
- Exercise is not just about weight loss, being fit, burning calories.You do not need to live your post natal life with a bad back, pain in your hips, shoulder pain. Exercise and professional support really can help during pregnancy and post partum.
What made me so careful about postpartum recovery and rehab?
Pelvic girdle pain was seriously debilitating for me from 5 months pregnant. Pelvic Girdle Pain [PGP] (previously known as Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction) is known to be caused by overactivity or under activity (great help right). I believe in my case overactivity caused PGP, combined with the hormone relaxin (present during pregnancy) which is responsible for allowing the pelvis to ‘limber up’ to prepare for birth.
My body mechanics changed with my PGP to reduce the pain. Even though I was still working out at low intensity, doing pilates and walking to keep moving, my body found ways to compensate and work differently. To prevent feeling pain, my body (and yours) recruits different muscles and movement patterns which become your new norm without realising it. I had to tell the midwives and doctors when giving birth to be careful moving me around. I was scared of the repercussions of my hips being moved further than they could actually go. Luckily I had very understanding and considerate midwives but if I had it my way, they wouldn’t have moved me at all.
My postpartum body instagram vs real –
After giving birth and being advised that PGP would disappear, I posted a picture on instagram showing how shocked I was that I had this body! 7 days after giving birth I looked as good as I did pre pregnancy. Phenomenal! All I needed to do was have the baby and the rest would just happen? No, my friends, I was impressed with the way my body responded to a long induction and the energy expended giving birth, however my hips were a mess, I could barely walk and sitting down required a lot of support and pillows.
I was, and still am, amazed at what my body was able to do. Oh, yes I created a human! I couldn’t believe how I had a version of my pre baby body back very quickly. What was key here was that I never got my pre pregnancy body back, I got a new body that I needed to work on differently. I was at the beginning of a long, hard journey back to feeling normal and a whole new set of problems that I had to navigate.
9 months in 9 months out –
These pictures are super cute and really mind-blowing, however having been hard on myself at times about where my fitness and abilities were at, the 9 months out marker felt like a realistic one. 9 months is actually a long time and recovering from giving birth is ongoing for me. Allow yourself to recover not just throw yourself back in to exercise.
If you are reading this and wondering what I would advise from my own experience that no one told me:
- Do not ignore pains, niggles or changes in your body during pregnancy. Specialist help will address your individual ailments during pregnancy. If your GP can’t refer you or the help isn’t helping – seek out private support if you can.
- Pain from pregnancy may not just go away. There may even be new pains that emerge as you rebalance.
- A pain in your hip/knee/butt cheek may not actually be located in that area. You need specialist help to identify where you may need extra muscle building or mobility.
- A women’s specialist physiotherapist can conduct a ‘Mummy MOT’ https://www.themummymot.com to check you out, internally and externally. You can ask for this at the GP but the wait may be very long for a thorough assessment. I went privately to reduce wait and get answers to questions quickly. I can not recommend this enough.
- Keep moving, going for a walk every day was important for physical and mental wellness. Staying cooped up indoors is not good for your mental well being, even if its February and freezing!
- Building very slowly is still building, despite having moments of ‘I can’t do this’.
- Lower your expectations.
Take away points –
Why do I think this post is relevant to anyone? What ever the story at the beginning, I think everyone’s journey to a post natal recovery will be different. Some people may in fact not actually have any pain and be able to get straight back into exercise. Even if this is the case, your post natal body has changed and you need time to learn it again.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People train as specialists to be able to make sure they can help you. Don’t suffer in silence in pain.
Message me if you want to start exploring what you can do in your postpartum body.