Rough Pregnancies and Why Workouts for Postpartum Women are Crap
There is nothing like a rough pregnancy to get you completely and absolutely out of shape! Even with a great pregnancy, our body goes through so many changes that getting back to where we left off can be a huge challenge.
The thought of working with women to help them recover fully from a baby never crossed my mind until I had one. I used to love working with men and really intense women. I loved getting people back into their sport and having them feel stronger than before their injury. This was my passion: unstoppable ninja warriors.
Then it happened to me: the whole biological clock thing. What is it with hitting 30, anyhow?
I had this wonderful plan on how I was going to stay in such great shape during my pregnancy and then by week 8 I could barely drag myself off the couch. It was horrible. I would go to work, come home and crash. And I’m a very self-motivated, driven person. This was completely out of my control. You know how it goes. Then the blessed 2nd trimester rolled around and I could start working out again. Not a ton, but enough for me to feel human, and I noticed something funny: when I worked out hardish, I felt contractions.
I brushed them off as nothing until they started getting pretty frequent. At a checkup I mentioned it to my doctor and after the whirlwind of tests, looks like I was dilated and my body was going into early labor. Not good. I was 19 weeks.
That ended the short bout of exercise. It was modified bedrest with the instructions to not bring on contractions. Ugh. Walking to back of the grocery store brought on contractions, so I literally went to work and did nothing. Talk about out of shape when that baby got here! Not my plan at all. But, like most women I know, from the moment you get pregnant, it’s best to take your plan and throw it out the window because that child is already in control. Much like trying to negotiate with a 2 yr old.
Back to workouts…
Coming back after my first pregnancy was eye opening. Not only did I realize that pregnancy changes our body in ways that just don’t bounce back, general exercise was not going to fix the problem. Then the double eye opener came when I started seeing some of the remnants of pregnancy in my patients that were 10-20 years postpartum. What??!!! Yep, they were active, fit people, but had never fully recovered from being pregnant. And that, folks, is how ninja warriors get hurt.
That is what turned my passion toward postpartum women. I’ve always loved preventative care and this was it. I thought, “If I could just get to these women and help them recover after pregnancy, then I wouldn’t see them in the clinic for hip/back/neck pain years later.” It was preventative care at it’s finest.
Then the second thing that drove my passion was seeing the crap for exercise that is given to women postpartum. (I hate using that word, because in my childhood household, it was considered a bad word.) Sorry Mom, it’s the best way to describe a lot of the exercise programs targeting women to get back in shape after having a baby. Complete and absolute crap!
It completely sucks (another bad word) to be a woman recovering from pregnancy and searching for a workout. How do you figure out which ones are good? Do you judge it by the cover? “Well, she looks great, I should do her workout.” What you don’t know is that she has nagging hip pain and leaks every time she does a jumping jack. Or worse, she is 20, never had kids, no advanced education, but posts really motivational quotes, so that makes her qualified to write a great workout, right?
That is one of the main reasons I started this. I don’t want to see women crying in my office because they did a workout program that made them worse, and I really don’t want to see them 10 years later for chronic back pain.
Whew… thanks for letting me get that off my chest.
Oh, and I’ve had pelvic floor issues after both kids (fixed), diastasis (healed) and 15 yrs of experience on top of a doctorate degree.
Coming soon: Part II – Perfect pregnancies do not make for perfect recovery. Second kid equals double the learning.