diastasis

5 "Scary" Myths About Prenatal Fitness

In honor of Halloween, we’ve put together our top 5 “scary” myths that continue to persist in the pre/postnatal fitness world.

Have you heard any of these before?

 
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You should keep your heart rate under 140BPM’s.

This was a guideline that was recommended in the past but has since been eliminated by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG). Everyone’s level of fitness and resting heart rate is different before pregnancy which means giving a “one size fits all” number doesn’t make sense. We now use “perceived level of exertion” or the “talk test”. Basically if you feel like you are pushing too hard and gasping for air, it’s a sign to slow down.

It’s dangerous to lift heavy weights.

This is another guideline that was given to keep the heart rate from going above 140bpm’s. Lifting weights spikes your blood pressure for a short period of time, but so does stress, running to catch a cab, chasing toddlers, and living life! :) You want to lift weights in order to maintain and build muscle tone. Don’t forget you have a newborn that you are going to be lifting and holding on the way. It’s wise to build up that strength now and not once you are dealing with sleep deprivation and fatigue.

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You can continue doing whatever workouts you did before pregnancy.

This one is the scariest myth of all! While many of your pre-pregnancy workouts are indeed safe for the baby, they aren’t necessarily safe for your core and pelvic floor. It’s important to train differently and with a lot more intention during pregnancy in order to ensure a complete postpartum recovery. (Apply that Pump & Kegel!!) Many people that continue their pre-pregnancy routine throughout pregnancy end up doing damage to their bodies (Diastsis Recti and pelvic floor problems) that can cause pain or discomfort for the rest of their lives.

Crunches are safe before you start to “show”.

Fine for the baby, yes. Safe for your body? Probably not. We recognize that every body type is different and some women continue crunching long into their 2nd trimester without any problems, but they are lucky. Bottom line, the more you strengthen your Rectus Abdominis (6-pack) and Obliques, the more strain you are going to place on your linea alba as your belly starts to expand. We recommend you step away from your traditional crunches and oblique work and begin focusing on strengthening your Transverse Abdominis (TVA) as soon as you know you are pregnant.

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You can go back to your regular workout classes when you are cleared at 6-weeks.

You had an easy pregnancy and amazing delivery. You exercised up until the day you delivered, you feel great and just got clearance from your care provider (sometimes as early as 2 weeks) that it is safe to go back to your pre-pregnacny workouts. Doing too much too soon can cause serious lasting damage. Your core and pelvic floor has been under a tremendous amount of strain for many months. It’s going to take more than 6 weeks to heal. In fact, your first 12 weeks postpartum are considered your “critical healing period”. That’s when you body is doing all the work to bring your linea alba back together and restore strength and function to your pelvic floor. It’s great that you feel amazing, but if you misread that as “healed” and head out for a run and then do 100 crunches, you may end up giving yourself a Diastasis Recti or pelvic organ prolapse. (that’s pretty scary). Honor what your body has just been through and allow it to rest and heal. That intense sweat sesh will still be there when you are really ready for it a few more weeks from now.


Questions about pre or postnatal exercise? Ask us in class! We love questions and want to make sure you are moving through your pregnancy and recovery with 100% confidence.

Debunking Exercise Myths: Returning to Exercise Post Pregnancy

The Myth: It's safe to return to your pre pregnancy workout as soon as you get the "green light" from your care provider.

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The FPC Answer: Most care providers will give you the green light at around 6 weeks to resume exercise.  But what does that mean?

Did you know that the first 12 weeks post birth are known as the "critical healing period"?  (Read 12...not 6).  Many women return to their favorite workouts too soon and too hard and put themselves at risk of developing complications.  Even if you feel amazing, the exercise choices you make during those initial weeks can effect your body for the rest of your life.  We could probably write you a book on the topic, but you're busy so here are some important bullet points instead: 

Before returning to exercise post birth:

  • It takes 4 months after you're done breastfeeding for your body to stop producing the hormone relaxin.  As long as relaxin is present, the connective tissue between your rectus abdominis (6-pack abs) is still vulnerable.  Thats why we continue to offer safe "core" alternatives for all our newly postpartum moms.  

 

  • No matter how good that new mom, "yoga teacher", "fitfluencer" looks on instagram, when she tells you it's safe to do crunches at 3 weeks postpartum, it's important to remember that traditional abdominal work like crunches, twists, planks, etc. are absolutely out of the question during those first 12 weeks.  

 

  • If you still have ab separation at 12 weeks, you need to continue to modify your workout and also be working with a postnatal specialist that can help you heal.  

 

  • You can't trust YouTube or even an instructor with a general pre/postnatal certification to do a Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation) assessment.  They have a very limited knowledge of the topic and they may "assess" that you are fine when in fact, you are not.  Or tell you that a DR is present when they don't understand the true definition of what it means to heal it.  Find a specialist. Come see us at FPC, or see a pelvic floor therapist for a proper diagnosis.  

 

  • Don't go for a run just yet!  Regardless of the type of birth you had, vaginal or Cesarian, you have to continue to train with your pelvic floor in mind.  Damage to the pelvic floor doesn't usually come from the actual birth.  It comes from the months of weight and pressure on those muscles leading up to the big event.  After birth, those muscles need time to rest and recover.  If we return to high impact movements right away, you are putting your pelvic floor at risk of developing a prolapse.  

 

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to postpartum fitness.  FPC is passionate about educating every woman that walks through our door on how to make a complete recovery post birth.  If you are postpartum and looking to get back into fitness, join us at the studio!  

Postpartum Rehab and/or Pump & Kegel are the 2 best places to start! Check our schedule for times!  

The Second Stage of Labor: Pushing and Protecting the Pelvic Floor

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Contributed by Chantal Traub

Throughout the years of assisting women in birth, I realized that many moms are unprepared for the 2nd stage of labor. The second stage is when the mother assists her body by pushing the baby out. As a doula, I've heard many interesting stories about labor and delivery. I would find myself at the playground with my children or at a party and chat with a mother who would say “oh you are a doula, let me tell you about my birth!” Sometimes it is a beautiful birth experience, often, it is a story about a disappointing or a physically traumatic birth that led to ongoing pain with intercourse or urinary incontinence. A woman past childbearing age might tell me she had developed an organ prolapse or leaking.

During pushing, the muscle tissue in the pelvic floor will give as far as it needs to. Sometimes, this can result in a small tear, which eventually heals well, but could subsequently contract or atrophy due to the trauma and cause problems later in life. There are ways to prepare and protect the pelvic floor, for example: choosing the right providers, the positions you use to allow your baby to descend, the provider's patience at the time of crowning, your nutrition, and habits and lifestyle, and exercises that strengthen and tone the pelvic floor.

Over the years, I have talked with providers about better preparing mothers for the 2nd stage of labor. One of the answers that I'm given is that “she will figure it out while doing it and she only has to do it once, for her first vaginal birth, because pushing is so much easier and shorter the second time”. And I would think, yes that's true. The muscle strength and ability is there and there is a normal learning curve in the beginning of the 2nd stage, but...?

We, as pre-and postnatal providers, keep seeing so many postpartum issues, shouldn't moms prepare better? Wouldn't it be good to know beforehand how to strengthen your pelvic floor during pregnancy and before entering menopause?

In my workshop, you will learn how the pelvis and fetus interact as well as simple exercises to bring awareness to your pelvic floor. You will review breathing and positions for pushing, and I will offer you tools and tips to prepare.

One of the many ways to help tone the pelvic floor during pregnancy, post-baby and beyond is the practice of yoga. Below are some of my personal favorites. In my yoga classes, I will tailor the poses to your levels and abilities.

 

Chantal Traub is a certified doula, childbirth educator and yoga teacher who has been
assisting expectant mothers for over 15 years. She maintains the passionate belief that there is a better way to help mothers prepare to push more effectively and protect the pelvic floor during pregnancy and birth. Chantal offers expertise and guidance to
pregnant women who want to prepare for birth and beyond. She is certified by both
Lamaze International and the Childbirth Education Association of Metropolitan New
York and is a board member of the Childbirth Education Association of Metro NY.
Chantal runs a private doula practice and offers private childbirth workshops. She's a
mom of two children.

Postpartum "Rehab"

We are excited to introduce FPC's first postpartum class, "Rehab".  We LOVE the fitness scene, trying new classes and finding fun instructors around the city.  And as much as we love you, our goal is not to keep you at FPC forever.  Our mission is to guide you safely through pregnancy and rehab you post-birth so you can go back into the fitness scene with more strength, body intelligence and total confidence that you aren't doing anything to potentially harm your body.   

Having been through pregnancy ourselves, we recognize that getting that 6-week "OK to exercise" from our care providers provides a huge disservice.  Labor and delivery are a marathon and depending on the type of delivery you've had, your body may need some major (sometimes months) of rehab.  Unfortunately, our health care system hasn't caught up to our needs.  We feel every woman should go straight into working with a specialist in order to reconnect to her core, TVA and pelvic floor post birth.  And many of us also need to work on healing a diastasis recti, recover from a Cesarian birth or address any pelvic floor issues that have come up.  

If you've been down this road, you know that working with a specialist can be expensive and PT is not always covered by insurance.  Many of us give up and figure, oh well, these aches and pains, discomfort, tummy bulge, (insert any random ailment here) are all just part of being a mom.  

STOP right there!  None of that is true and we believe that in order for you for us to be the best moms possible, we need to first take care of ourselves.  Not to mention, babies demand a lot of heavy lifting.  We need to be sure our bodies can hold up to the task! 

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This is why we are introducing "Rehab".  It's the individualized care and knowlegde you would get from a specialist in an affordable, small group format.  This is the first step to getting yourself safely back into your favorite classes in the fitness world.  Your body will never be the same after pregnancy, and we don't mean that in a bad way.  We're here to help you honor the new you and teach you to be grateful for what your body has done.

"Rehab" is pre-crawler baby friendly so there is no excuse for not taking the time to devote to your healing and recovery. Whether you've had a Cesarian birth, natural birth, working through pelvic floor problems, or diastases, this class is safe and encouraged.  "Rehab" is taught by FPC co-founder, Joanie Johnson, who is a pre/postnatal corrective exercise specialist as well as diastasis and core consultant. We also work with women's health specialists and PTs and make further referrals as needed.  As with all our classes at FPC, you are in safe hands.