So, I was having a chat to 2 postnatal clients after Mummies and Buggies this week, and quite honestly, their postnatal recoveries could not be different from one another.
One client had a pretty straightforward delivery, is feeling fabulous and asked me:
“When am I no longer postnatal, Claire, because I went to a class the other day at my gym and wasn’t sure whether I should say something to the instructor or not…”.
The second client had every intervention possible to get her baby out of her naturally, she has pelvic floor dysfunction, she is desperate to lose her baby weight.
Knowing that she has stress incontinence on impact, I asked what other exercise classes she’s doing and she said:
“Well, I’ve signed up for this other postnatal class, and Claire…I think some of the moves are a bit too hard for me really…so, after week 2, I had to mention it to the instructor that I can’t do burpees…and I can’t run or do sprints and stuff…”.
…and, obviously I’m trying NOT to make that emoji with the big bulging surprised eyes, but I just couldn’t.
Both clients are getting close to the 6-month after birth mark, but seriously – their postnatal recovery experiences are poles apart.
Every pregnancy is different, and therefore I view every postnatal person’s recovery as very individual too.
This is how you should see clients also, in my professional opinion.
Assess them each separately is essentially what I’m leading at here.
“After 6 months, you’re no longer considered postnatal”
…really isn’t helpful and/or accurate for some mums, and you should know, as a postnatal instructor, which of your clients have pelvic floor weakness, diastasis recti, faulty breathing mechanics, strength issues etc.
Here’s the checklist I personally follow, whenever a client asks if it’s ok for her to return to her pre-pregnancy regime, or step things up a notch:
1 – ABDOMINAL SEPARATION / CORE / BACK PAIN
Does your client have diastasis recti, a weak core (whatever that is) and/or intermittent back pain?
If so, this needs addressing first, because if she goes into a mainstream class which has a tonne of sit ups, planks and seated rollbacks in it – what do you think is going to happen there?
Her abs are going to hurt for days, she’ll likely throw her back out, and all of that work you’ve done on abdominal separation rehab will be compromised.
2 – PELVIC STABILISATION
Point 2 is really about how stable her pelvis is.
The pelvic girdle is still at risk of injury throughout her postnatal period, so it’s important that you’re providing plenty of lateral hip strength work, and dare I say it – challenging her core in standing.
Do this exercise yourself:
Squat down, then pop up to standing with both leg straight, toes pointing forwards and slowly raise one leg into abduction, then repeat on the other side.
What happens to your pelvis when you move the leg laterally?
Do your ASIS remain level, or do you cheat and list your pelvis up, tip your torso over to the side and/or have to bend the leg your standing on to maintain your balance?
If you can’t perform this movement slowly and accurately, imagine how many of your clients are going to struggle too, huh?
Highlighting their weak points though is important.
3 – BREASTFEEDING / BOOBS
A good consideration to take into account is if mum is off to do some running or has signed up to a bootcamp where burpees, shuttle runs and jumping jacks are on the menu…
…her boobs may not like that so much.
Doing high intensity exercise won’t stop the production of milk or alter the quality of mum’s milk supply, but it’s all about the comfort factor here.
I mean, seriously, would you want to go jumping about in a bra that’s probably not very supportive…?
4 – HIGH INTENSITY NEEDN’T BE HIGH IMPACT
The second client I mentioned above, with pelvic floor weakness, really really wants to lose weight.
I understand this. It’s a goal for most new mums who come through my classes.
Giving your postnatal clients, in a fitness setting, a good, sweaty, yet safe and effective workout is your duty.
Getting the point across that high intensity needn’t be high impact is a toughie.
Devise workouts your mums love that are challenging, fat-burning and safe.
5 – PELVIC FLOOR
If your client leaks on impact, then high impact work is an absolute no-go.
That’s an industry standard statement, right there.
In fact, if your client has ANY pelvic floor issue, whether that’s sneeze wee, prolapse, urge incontinence, pudendal neuralgia etc – you’ve GOT to work together to:
- solve what it is that’s caused the dysfunction in the first place,
- put some basic, yet powerful strategies in place to enable her to lift, move and workout safely,
- as well as simple steps that will enable her to not have to avoid certain movements in her day-to-day life for the rest of her life
That last one is a biggie, because if say, at the base of a squat, as she lifts her baby up off the floor, she leaks, what is it you need to tell her to do and/or avoid now, to get her body working better so this doesn’t happen?
And, if you’re mulling over that last point, and really don’t know the answer to that question, then click here.
Enrolments into my Your Pelvic Matters pelvic floor exercise Teacher Training program will open again in October 2018.
Sign up below to be one of the first to know when they reopen.