Are you currently pregnant and experiencing pain? Or do you want to start working out during your pregnancy but don't know where to start?
I am a Certified Pregnancy and Postpartum Exercise Specialist and trained in BirthFit. I have helped countless women navigate training during pregnancy. Whether you're experiencing pelvic and/or low back pain, peeing when coughing/sneezing/jumping, or just don't know where to start.. I can help you!
Are you newly postpartum and are fearful your body will never be the same? Have you heard from other women that peeing while sneezing is your new normal?
Postpartum is FOREVER. So your life will be forever changed.. but that doesn't mean you have to suffer with incontinence issues, diastasis recti (some call it the mom pooch), or pain with running/working out. You can get stronger and return to an active lifestyle without pain or discomfort. Whatever your goals are, I would love to work with you to help achieve them!
Did you get the go ahead from you OBGYN that you are free to return back to your "normal" exercise?
First off, every person is unique and every woman's pregnancy is unique. Whether you had a vaginal delivery or c-section.. complicated or uncomplicated pregnancy.. high exercise level pre-pregnancy or little to no exercise.. I can help you!
Unless restricted by your health care practitioner, it's SAFE to start key foundational exercises 1-2 weeks postpartum, no matter the type of pregnancy or delivery. These exercises are key in establishing proper breathing patterns and activating the correct stabilizing muscles postpartum. This will allow us to progress quickly once you have been cleared (usually around 6-8 weeks) at your OBGYN follow-up appointment.
Do you have a mom pooch that, no matter what you do, you can't get rid of?
Our bodies have gone through a tremendous amount of change to grow and make room for the baby. This causes the core muscles (specifically the 8 pack ab muscle known as the Rectus Abdominus) to spread. This spreading of the abs allows room for baby to grow. It happens to ALL women at some point in the third trimester.
This is a completely normal process; however, for some women postpartum, this separation resolves on its own. For others, it doesn't.
The picture below shows the different variations a diastasis recti can present. I will teach you how to measure both the width and depth of separation and we will use these measurements to show improvement over time.
Why do some women have Diastasis Recti (DR) and others don't?
Again, remember that the Rectus Abdominis (8-pack ab muscles) have to separate in ALL women in the third trimester to make room for baby.
Here are some of the reasons as to why some women struggle with various degrees of DR postpartum:
Breathing mechanics - shallow breathing versus deep breathing. The diaphragm muscle is one of the most important muscles in postpartum recovery (more on that below)
Pressure distribution when sneezing, coughing, running, jumping, lifting. Pressure distribution is important with all functional activities such as picking up your child in their carrier, picking up an older child, running/playing with older toddler, etc..
Lack of core engagement or incorrect muscle activation. Most women postpartum have difficulty engaging the correct core muscles when doing daily activities - these muscles include the transverse abdominis, glutes and pelvic floor (scroll down for more information on what the "core" entails)
Do you struggle sneezing/coughing/jumping without peeing yourself?
This is very common! However, it should NOT be normal. What our society has done is normalize peeing in your pants. This is often a sign that your body is not distributing pressure properly. Ex) bearing down or sucking in the core while performing exercises rather than bracing the core and breathing properly.
Do you experience pelvic heaviness like you have a tampon that's about to fall out?
This is one of the symptoms of prolapse. Most women are devastated when they hear this news.. maybe you have already been assessed by your physician and given a specific grade of prolapse (I-IV). Your OBGYN may have even said that you will require surgery one day.
All hope is not lost! There are exercises you can do to minimize and even completely rid yourself of these symptoms. You are not alone! Prolapse is much more common than you think and it's about time that we, as a society, start normalizing this. You can have a completely normal life with proplapse - that includes running, jumping, lifting, you name it!
Why do online training when there's various workout programs that you can do at home that may be more cost effective?
There are some great online courses and resources that address these same issues. Many of the courses are done by highly trained professionals, although there are many that are incorrect as well.
However, working with a specialist one-on-one, whether it be 60 or 30 minutes can be just the thing to activate the appropriate muscles. A tutorial in an online course can be very detailed and give all of the right cues but unless someone is there with you watching, assessing, asking questions and listening.. there is a large chance that you may be doing the exercises incorrectly.
This can lead to the wrong muscles being activated and strengthened as well as improper breathing patterns and pressure distribution.
I have clients that prefer weekly one hour or half hour sessions and I have others that prefer meeting less often due to time or financial constraints. Either way, I will make sure you are doing all of the exercises properly and answer all of your questions. We will also work on more than just the exercises.. I can help with proper mechanics with lifting (baby carrier, toddler, etc) as well as modify positioning for breast feeding. These small things can add up and make a tremendous difference in preventing discomfort and injuries down the road.
Just know that whatever you need.. however frequently or infrequently, I would love to work with you to empower and uplift you as you navigate pregnancy, postpartum and on! My job is to educate, encourage and uplift you during this most beautiful life transition!
The diaphragm is a muscle that helps you inhale and exhale (breathe in and out). It makes up the roof of your core (more on that below) . This thin, dome-shaped muscle sits below your lungs and heart. It's attached to your sternum (a bone in the middle of your chest), the bottom of your rib cage and your spine.
It is the primary muscle of respiration (breathing).
The diaphragm flattens, expands out and down during the inhale. During exhale it contracts up and in.
As the baby gets larger, the diaphragm is unable to fully expand and this causes the body to transition to shallow breathing and can lead to secondary muscles taking over. Similar to the body having to adapt and allow the Rectus Abdominis to separate to make room for the baby, the diaphragm also has to compensate. This is all a normal part of pregnancy.
When it becomes an issue is postpartum. It's important to restore proper breathing patterns postpartum as soon as possible. We need to retrain the diaphragm muscle to fully expand out and down during an inhale.
As part of our training, I will teach you a full 360 degree breathing pattern. Oftentimes you'll see diaphragmatic breathing referred to as "belly breathing". This can be misleading because if you only breathe through the belly, the diaphragm doesn't actually fully expand
360 breathing includes breathing through the ribs from side-to-side and front-to-back
Without proper diaphragm breathing, this can lead to several issues postpartum that we can discuss more during your free discovery session.
Core Muscles & Breathing
The core is a bit more complex than you may realize! Most people I talk to think of the "core" as the abdominal muscles- particularly the Rectus Abdominis, AKA 8-pack ab muscles. Although those muscles make up part of the core, they are only one component.
The core consists of:
The Transvers Abdominis (TA) - This muscle attaches to the spine and wraps all the way around, similar to a corset. When working properly, it activates first to stabilize the spine and allow the other muscles (Rectus Abdominis, Internal/External Obliques) to work off of.
The TA is also one of the most important muscles in closing an ab separation (diastasis recti)
The glutes - they are a group of 3 muscles (glute maximus, medius and minimus). Their job is to stabilize the spine so that the rest of the body can move well. Proximal stability for distal mobility!
Erector spinae/multifidi: group of back muscles that must activate to help with overall spinal stability
The pelvic floor - this is a group of muscles that are located between the tailbone and the pubic bone of the pelvis. They house the vagina, rectum, and urethra. They can be weak, tight or even both!
The diaphragm - we discussed this in detail previously
Core Breathing & Pressure Distribution
The core consists of several muscles groups that are closely interconnected and work as a team during inhalations/exhalations and when performing any type of activity.
On a typical respiration (inhale & exhale):
Inhale: ribs expand and your diaphragm moves down to allow the air in. At the same time, your pelvic floor muscles lengthen and move down.
Exhale: the air exits your lungs, your diaphragm lifts up and so does your pelvic floor.
This allows for proper pressure distribution. For the inhale, as the pressure comes into the lungs the diaphragm responds and expands, the pressure continues to go down through the abdomen and causes the pelvic floor to move down and lengthen. The opposite occurs on the exhale.
Coordinating your breath with muscle control is important in every day-to-day activities. If done incorrectly, the increased pressure can increase the width/depth of a diastasis recti (DR), increase the likelihood of developing a prolapse or worsen a current prolapse, cause incontinence and increase SI/low back pain. It can cause the pelvic floor to weaken or to tighten up leading to bowel/bladder dysfunction and/or sexual dysfunction.
I don't mention these things to scare you, but I think that women should be informed. Too often healthcare is focused on the baby (which is understandable) but once the baby is born there is very little care for the mother. And I'm a big believer that a family's foundation is the mama. If she is happy and healthy, then the family unit will thrive!
We will discuss all of the topics previously mentioned in detail during the free discovery session. If you decide to train with me, I will give you the education and tools needed to establish proper breathing patterns, pressure distribution and core activation. This will promote a smoother pregnancy, delivery and recovery. If you are postpartum, it will prevent and lessen your current symptoms so that we can progress you to a more active lifestyle and help achieve your health-related goals!
The first session is free!
This will include:
45 minute Meet & Greet
To establish goals and get to know YOU and your pregnancy & fitness journey
We will also discuss your past medical, pregnancy and fitness history - this will include symptoms you are currently experiencing, if any
We will discuss proper breathing mechanics, pressure distribution and core activation
15 minute introductory exercise
You will be given 1-2 exercises to work on before the next session
I will demonstrate how to perform the exercises properly and what to look out for