By Kim Vopni

I’m often asked what the best way is to get back into shape after baby.  People often balk at what I say and then join the first mommy bootcamp they can find only to come back with their tailbone tucked between their legs, a poochy tummy that hasn’t flattened even though they can ‘hold a plank for 3 minutes’, back pain that won’t go away even though they do ‘core exercise 3-5x a week and leaking ‘only when they jump or run or do jumping jacks’.  Get my point? 

The best way to get back in shape after baby is to focus on restorative core exercise.  Let me say that again…  Restorative Core Exercise.  Getting your body back doesn’t mean joining a marathon training group, crunching your way to oblivion, deciding to give Crossfit a try or opting for a local mommy bootcamp class.  I’ve said it before,  and I’ll say it again, Mommy and Bootcamp do not belong in the same sentence.

Pregnancy challenges your body with hormones, posture changes, connective tissue stretching, and pelvic floor overload (to name just a few).  These happen over 9 months and are followed by the intense experience of birth.  The muscles of the core (and by core I mean the deep core – the pelvic floor, the diaphragm, the multifidus and the transversus abdominus) are put to the test and are often injured or in a less than optimal state after the baby is born.  Connective tissue has been stretched, abdominal muscles have been stretched and have become weak, the pelvic floor has carried the weight of the baby(ies) and fluid during the pregnancy and then was stretched and sometimes injured during birth so why do women think the postpartum period is a great time to jump and pound and crunch? 

The keys to getting your body back in shape are optimal alignment that will allow the core to function properly, optimal breathing to ensure oxygenation of tissues and the correct movement of the pelvic floor, restorative exercise that calls on the deep core team to work together and gentle stretching to create healing space and promote relaxation and restoration. 

Rest and restorative breathing is the focus of the first few weeks.  Restorative breathing with 1-2 deep core exercises and some gentle walking is the focus of weeks 4-6.  I always recommend that women make an appointment to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist at the 6 week mark even if the feel fine.  It is important to get your insides checked out so you can catch any concerns early and prevent them from becoming problems down the road.  For the next month I suggest continuing with restorative breathing and walking daily along with an additional 1-2 deep core exercises.   Have your physiotherapist or a trainer qualified in deep core work assess you and determine your ability to start adding on more intense activity.

Avoid the impact and stay intact.

Kim Vopni
Certified Personal Trainer and a Certified Pre/Post Natal Fitness Consultant
EPI-NO Canada