These Are The Specialists You Need To Get Expert Care For Your Body After Baby
By Debbie King, SUPAFITMAMA
PHOTO © @criene/Twenty20
Apr 11, 2018
When I brought my daughter home from the hospital eight years ago, everything seemed so new. Nursing, swaddling and diapering felt as foreign as the postpartum body I inhabited. Though mostly rising to the unpracticed challenges of motherhood, I longed for something familiar: specifically, the slimmer, stronger physicality I knew and loved. Yes, I wanted my body back.
By eight weeks, I was cleared for exercise and itching to get back to spin classes and bench presses. I was eager but prudent, combing the internet between feedings, in search of postpartum exercise advice and cautions. A series of late-night clicks led me to Samantha — a postnatal fitness expert and core specialist who, during a private in-home session, provided me with help I didn’t know I needed.
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Abdominal separation (also known as diastasis recti) — an occurrence not uncommon during pregnancy — was new to me. Samantha was instrumental in assessing and educating me about the state of my core muscles, as well as how to repair them while pursuing my fitness goals and functioning in my new motherhood role. The way I moved inside and outside of the gym changed as a result. For example, I did more belly breathing than planking and less jackknifing out of bed en route to my bodybuilding comeback.
Fitness lover or not, if within one’s means, I recommend that all new moms see a professional specially trained in postpartum health. While we as women may be focused on losing weight or returning to recreational activities after baby, a postpartum health pro has an eye on the important inner physiology that we don’t often see or know about.
Yes, your favourite bootcamp instructor, trainer or family doctor may be awesome, but a postnatal fitness specialist, pelvic floor physiotherapist or chiropractor has the expertise to identify and treat common conditions like abdominal separation, incontinence, back pain and tight muscles. An assessment and personalized exercise prescription can be helpful in the weeks, months and even years following childbirth.
Here’s what to expect from each:
Postnatal Fitness Specialists, Core Specialists and Pilates Experts
A postnatal personal trainer has expert knowledge of the adaptations that occur in the body during and after pregnancy. Look for a trainer with additional core specialist certification, as core function — that is, the way the diaphragm, abdominal muscles and pelvic floor operate — is key to recovery after baby.
Similarly, a postnatal pilates expert will focus on areas typically affected by birthing and caring for baby such as restoring the core, stretching tight muscles in the hips and chest and strengthening weaker muscles like the glutes.
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Pelvic Floor Physiotherapists
As their title suggests, these therapists specialize in pelvic floor function. They are trained to identify whether pelvic floor muscles are too tight (hypertonic) or too weak (hypotonic), both of which can contribute to core dysfunction. Manual therapies are performed internally and externally to address pelvic pain, incontinence and other related problems.
Along with adjustments, soft tissue work and acupuncture, some chiropracticors are trained in specific pre/postnatal techniques. With or without the latter, chiropractors are masters of alignment. Spinal adjustments, pelvic adjustments and/or manual release can help address aches and pains as well as improve core function.
Receiving an assessment and proper exercise prescription from any of these certified professionals is a great first step toward flattening your mid-section, alleviating back pain, preventing leaks, resuming your active lifestyle or just having a body that feels and functions well day-to-day.