When I first ventured into the world of postnatal fitness in 2015, there were few relevant courses or certifications for personal trainers. After taking the classes I could find at the time and reading everything I could get my hands on when it came to pelvic floor dysfunction and diastasis recti, I realized two things:

First, I had plenty to learn, and the experts I followed were still learning, too.

And second, helping women recover and feel strong and competent after pregnancy was by far the most important thing I could do as a personal trainer.

Learning from Julie Wiebe, PT, how to check for diastasis recti, with Brianna Battles and Jennifer Campbell, in June 2015.

The more I learned, the more I felt called to help other moms. It’s hard for me NOT to bring up what I do when I know how much this work is needed.

At the same time, it was a struggle to explain and market my work. Not only did I need to assert the value of working with a specialist after pregnancy, but also I found myself up against mommy bootcamps and get-your-body-back messaging. New moms are an easy target for the fitness industry, but so often they emphasis is on losing the baby weight. And if no one was telling women about issues like diastasis recti and pelvic floor dysfunction, how could I convince them that they needed my help?

For many women, the question remains: “Do I really need a special type of workout with a specialized coach or trainer after pregnancy?”

What if I worked out throughout my whole pregnancy and had an easy labor and delivery

What if I’ve made it past the six-week mark and my doctor cleared me for exercise?

What if my baby is already one year old?

In all of these cases, some women might be able to return to regular exercise without paying special attention to their core muscles. Some women might resume CrossFit workouts and PR on a lift in their first year postpartum. Some women might return to running at exactly six weeks postpartum and never look back. These same women might share their success stories on Instagram. You might see them jogging around the neighborhood with their double stroller. They might even be fitness professionals who claim they can help you lose your baby weight.

But many more women will encounter obstacles and signs that their bodies need a bit more TLC.  Even if they worked out throughout their whole pregnancy and had an easy labor and delivery. Even if they made it past the six-week mark and were cleared for exercise. Even if baby is already one year old.

Moms strengthen their glutes and core muscles during a recent session of Mama & Baby Fit at The Birth Boutique in Oak Park. Small group postnatal classes are a great way to ease back into exercise after pregnancy.

If you’ve ever leaked during a run or workout, if you’ve ever felt downward pressure in your vagina while lifting a heavy weight or carrying your baby, if you’ve noticed your abdomen coning at the midline during ab exercises, if you’ve felt pain or tenderness around your belly button, if you’re experiencing hip, low back or even knee pain, if your core doesn’t seem to “turn on” like it used to, or if your body just doesn’t feel the same after pregnancy, you are among the MANY women who could benefit from specialized help. Even if you have NONE of these symptoms, a postnatal fitness specialist can help ensure you are using your core muscles correctly and prevent you from getting injured while your body is still in a vulnerable state of healing.

I always recommend my postpartum clients start by seeing women’s health physical therapist, especially if they are experiencing symptoms related to their pelvic floor. A women’s health PT can provide feedback on how your pelvic floor muscles are working (through an internal exam) and if necessary, give you individualized exercises to do on your own. A personal trainer who understands pregnancy and postpartum can help you transition from rehab to fitness and get you back to doing the physical activities you love. Ideally, these two people work together as your personal team.

Often new moms want to know what exercises they should and shouldn’t do, when the question isn’t “what” but rather “how.” It’s not about learning “safe” exercises. It’s about reconnecting with your body and being able to confidently determine whether an exercise and/or load is appropriate for you at this time. It’s not about some Instagram guru’s list of the best core exercises. It’s about understanding how your core muscles work and using good strategy in and out of the gym. It’s about understanding how to regress and progress movements in order to get the most out of them.

A postnatal personal trainer can:

  • Assess your alignment and movement patterns for any habits or tendencies that may be limiting your ability to use your core muscles effectively.
  • Teach you how to activate your deep core muscles, glutes and other areas that may be weak or inactive. Give you appropriate exercises that strengthen these weak spots and enhance your ability to use them in functional, everyday movements.
  • Listen to your fitness goals and help you take the steps to achieve them with an individualized plan.
  • Hold you accountable and make sure you are getting the most out of your workouts.

Ready to invest in yourself? Contact me at nicole@mamasgottamove.com to get started today. It’s never too late!