Did you know that infants of moms who exercised while pregnant were found to sleep through the night earlier and calm themselves more easily when disturbed? In addition, athletes were found to have 30% shorter second stage labor. As a mother who was active throughout both of my pregnancies, I can affirm those observations. However, pregnancy journeys are different for each woman.
I am sure there are women reading this who had circumstances or complications standing in the way of exercising regularly throughout pregnancy. I am also sure that many of those babies slept through the night early on, while some babies of active mothers did not. After all, pregnancy is certainly not black and white and neither are the statistics. That being said, exercise is highly recommended during pregnancy unless specifically prohibited by your obstetrician or midwife. It has been shown to reduce perinatal risk (including gestational diabetes, hypertension, and pre-eclampsia) and is associated with healthier newborns and children.
If you are exercising prior to your pregnancy, it is safe to continue practicing cardiovascular and strengthening activities throughout your pregnancy with guidelines in mind. If you have not been exercising, it is recommended to complete exercise at low intensity and duration to achieve the same goals within safe limits.
AWESOME. So, where do we mamas find these guidelines? If I have learned anything as a mother, it’s that internet search engines can make you go to crazy town. Let’s avoid that. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a physical therapist that devotes her practice to prenatal and postpartum mothers? A real live person- better yet, a real live mother who knows her stuff and can make you feel educated, encouraged, prepared, and proactive? That’s exactly how I felt after leaving my postpartum class with Melissa Noeth, DPT. Melissa is the proud owner of Fit Mama Physical Therapy.
I recently had a friend discover (two years after delivering her second child) that she has severe ab separation that has caused her bladder to prolapse. She cannot do core work or squats, which is making her feel limited in her exercise options. This has led to weight gain and feeling tired and week. I know how hard it is to feel positive about your body after having babies without even experiencing these complications, so I felt intense compassion for her as she opened up to me.
Our conversation also made me wonder about my own body. Could I have ab separation too? Am I exercising safely? Am I “doing my kegels” correctly and what does that even mean?!? I felt unsure of what to look for, and in the event that I had these unknown complications, I did not feel confident that I knew how to conquer them. I am a certified yoga instructor, which means I have good body awareness and understand how to exercise my pelvic floor, but that knowledge was not enough to self-diagnose.
I had a one-on-one consultation with Melissa, and I immediately told my friend about her incredible services. Thankfully, she was able to determine that I do not have any ab separation and even was able to confirm that I am indeed “doing my kegels” correctly without even doing an internal examination. Who knew that an external kegel exercise examination was even a thing? I was more than impressed without having to experience any awkward moments. Bonus points!
In addition to answering the questions I came in with, I learned so much more than I anticipated learning. She took me through a pregnancy and postpartum class even though I am not currently pregnant, which helped me to be informed for any future pregnancies. I learned about rate of exertion, heart rates, heat safety, when to stop exercising, abdominal separation prevention, back pain prevention, awareness of pelvic position, avoiding pelvic malalignment, incontinence prevention (AKA how to not pee your pants every five seconds during/after pregnancy), posture checks, diaphragmatic breathing, pelvic floor contraction, and transverse abdominus activation. This stuff was PURE GOLD.
Then she taught me a variety of helpful exercises when working out, labor and delivery tips such as perineal stretching, breathing techniques, opening your pelvic inlet in early labor and opening your pelvic outlet in late labor, as well as considerations for both vaginal births and C-sections. I left with a wealth of knowledge, confidence, and tools at my fingertips. I tried to share with mom friends the next day at a birthday party, and we laughed until our tummies hurt when we realized we ALL had no idea if we were “doing our kegels” correctly. Why doesn’t anyone talk about this stuff? We are all women and mothers, and it turns out we all have the same questions. Thankfully, I was able to tell them that Melissa offers group sessions in addition to private sessions. This is a great option for women that cannot afford private classes, so gather your girlfriends and get informed together.
Check out FitMamaPT.com for more information, and check the blog for baby wearing tips, ergonomic recommendations for rockers, and tips to avoid upper back and neck pain as a new mom at FitMamaPT.com/blog.
Contact Information: Melissa Noeth, DPT – Physical Therapist – email: [email protected] – phone: (775) 722-7688
10% discount to new clients who mention SAMB and book service by January 1, 2017.
Resources used for this post include:
Clapp JF. Exercising Through Your Pregnancy. Omaha,NE: Addicus. 2002.
Clapp JF. The course of labor after endurance exercise during pregnancy. Am J Obstet Gynecol. Dec 1990;163(6):1805-1811.
Pivarnik JM, Perkins CD, Moyerbrailean T. Athletes and pregnancy. Clin Obstet Gynecol. Jun 2003;46(2):403-14.