Jen from The Mama Method, a Pilates fitness studio specializing in prenatal, postpartum + women’s health, was at the Nook Nov. 15th speaking about the postpartum body and how we can help it heal.
You may be surprised to know that it actually takes you body 7 years to completely recover from pregnancy and childbirth, whether vaginal birth or C-section. At a 6 week check up, a lot of times, your medical professional will look at your stitches, ask what kind of birth control you want, check on your "mood" and consider you "good to go" and that's kind of where our care ends. We are given so much information about how to care for our babies, but no one teaches us about what we need to heal and to thrive.
A lot of Jen's focus is to work with people prenatally, to educate them for what is to come and to get their body prepared for the demands that are coming post partum. She also, works with people post partum. There is a misconception that postpartum is only the first month or two after birth, but it's actually kind of a forever thing - we are forever changed.
For the first 6 weeks, you are still healing! You are not actually ready to return to regular exercise at that point. You will often have some leaking during exercise for up to the first 6 months after birth. The same for an abdominal muscle separation or Diastasis recti. Every women has this after birth, but if you don't notice that it's going away after the 8-10 week mark, then it won't go away without some breath work and care to help it close back up. Our core and abdominal wall are still healing for up to two years postpartum. Our core is actually several layers.
Jen describes the core muscles with a cake pop analogy:
- You want to start with the foundation - the stick- think of that as your spine.
- Our deep core muscles and pelvic floor muscles are the cake wrapped around it.
- The last layer of icing is the outer core - the 6 pack muscles and obliques. They're important, but they can't be all that we address.
Our breathing is part of our deep abdominal system. As we go through pregnancy our breathing becomes more shallow as our ribs expand outwardly to the sides. Jen led the attendees through some simple breath work designed to deepen their breathing by focusing on expanding their ribs outward to the sides as they inhaled and on some simple, but important Kegel and abdominal exercises. Jen also spoke about the importance of strengthening your core back muscles, as your back and abdominals work in concert to maintain your core stability. When you are exercising, it is important to be aware of your posture and form so you are using your muscles correctly as you exercise.
My final question for Jen: What do you wish people knew before they went home with their baby?
Jen's answer: Rest and eat really nourishing food. Our tissues cannot heal if we're not eating well. It won't help our hormones or cortisol levels. For the first 6 weeks don't even worry about exercise, focus on resting, eating nourishing foods every 3 hours and getting support. Bone broths, soups and stews provide the collagen we need for our tissues to heal. If you try to get there faster through early exercise it will likely actually set you back!Continue reading