Poor postnatal programming could be doing more harm than good. Here are the 4 biggest mistakes to avoid.
1. Disregarding the stress that the core and pelvic floor have undergone
Diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles) and urinary incontinence (leakage) are common after giving birth. Running and crunches are common in postnatal training, but new moms need to be careful about getting back into it too soon.
After having a professional check for DR, avoid all front-loading exercises, including planks and crunches. Work to strengthen your glutes and stabilize your core. Two good options for exercises are bridges and core pulls. To learn more on how to strengthen your body while flattening your core, click here.
2. Too much stretching, too little strength training
The female body secretes hormones that relax the joints for birth. Postnatal exercise programs should focus on strengthening and keep stretching at a minimum in order to reduce joint laxity, which can result in pain or injury.
As new moms, we often get sore and stiff in our shoulders, neck and back due to the lifting, feeding, stress and cradling of our little ones. Making sure to properly stretch these muscles each day will help to alleviate some of the unnecessary tension you may feel.
With scattered sleep and extra stress, your recovery is often limited. When you start back exercising it is key that you re-connect your core muscles to the brain. Then you will want to add in basic strength moves to form a stable foundation. Make sure to be cleared by your physician before starting a workout program.
3. Too much high-intensity exercise too soon
Even though you may be cleared and feeling great, your body is still in recovery mode. On top of that you are probably not sleeping very well. Establishing a routine that does not induce stress is important for recovery, progress and maintenance.
For the first 6–8 weeks post-pregnancy, aim to have a 10-30 minute program that you can do at home 2-3 times a week. If you feel good around 8 weeks post- birth, with a physician’s clearance start with 30-40 minute workouts at the gym or at home, and slowly ramp up the intensity. Need help structuring a workout, accountability and support, click here to learn more about Ashley’s Reclaim You program.
4. Cardio instead of strength training
Many moms feel that in order to lose the baby weight they need to do steady state cardio. Watching the calories add up while on a cardio machine can be enticing. However, if you want to make a change to your body composition, you will want to start with body weight exercises such as squats, lunges, overhead press, etc. and slowly add in weight. Make sure that you have properly retrained your core before lifting because the pressure can cause your belly to stay distended.
Picking up the baby & car seat
New moms need to be careful when placing their babies in a low crib and lifting them out without proper engagement of their core. Our bellies go through a tremendous amount of change during nine months and can take up to a year to get back to normal. Trying to keep your newborns at hip height rather than lower and activating your inner core when picking them up is key. In addition, new moms carry around heavy, awkward and cumbersome car seats. Make sure to activate your inner core (Fit Mom Core Trainer) and bending at the knees rather than the hips when lifting is key to proper lifting.
Getting out of Bed
Getting out of bed may be something you never thought about. However, for the first few weeks you will want to roll onto your side and use your arms to push you up rather than to crunch up. Whether you have had a C-section or natural birth this is key in helping to heal your inner abdominals without adding too much pressure.
If You’re a New Mom
After you’ve had a baby, it’s perhaps more important than ever to have experts who really know what they’re doing take care of your personal fitness plan. If you’ve just had a baby (or know anybody who has), I’d love to help you.
I know that your time is limited, so I have designed an efficient program, with less than 20 minutes a day, that you can do at home, taking into consideration any possible lingering issues (like diastasis recti), posture, and retraining your core. You can start feeling great, flattening your core (and yes, you will also burn fat – safely).
Ashley shows a few tips from her Fit Mom Core Program to activate, strengthen and protect your core after having a baby. You’ll learn how to active your core through daily activities, perform a core pull to flatten your stomach, engage your glutes in a bridge as well as how to get up from bed properly and pick up a car seat.
Perform 3-4 sets of each exercise
Seated Core Activation – “shhh” sound– 10 reps of 10 second holds
Core Pulls – 10 reps of 10 second holds
Glute Bridge – 12-15 reps (with a hold at the top)