Friends, I am honored to introduce you to a dear friend of mine, boy mama of 3 (OK – maybe 2.5, #3 will be here in February!), an NFL coach’s wife, and former Miss Iowa USA. And if all of those honorable titles weren’t enough accalaid inside her home, she’s also a prenatal & postnatal exercise specialist! She is probably the most fit and active pregnant momma you will find on Instagram (hi momma motivation!) and uses these techniques to the core herself (no pun intended). And now she is using her mom heart and former teacher techniques, helping YOU too! Let’s give a warm welcome to Becca Donatell!
On Instagram, I invited you to send some q’s in for sweet & bada** Becca. We all know we have these questions! (Hello, Google & personal chats with your doctor!) We all know the basic common sense rules of thumb such as don’t introduce a new exercise to your body if weren’t doing it regularly prior to pregnancy. For example, don’t pick up running if you weren’t a runner before carrying your precious cargo! Another rule of thumb we all know is if you’re out of breath while working out, take it easier because you need to make sure your little one in there is getting enough oxygen – so watch your heart rate. But beyond those basics, what should we do? Well, here were the most popular reoccurring questions I got from you, combined into 5 simple q’s.
As always, consult with your personal OBGYN. But, here is some valuable advice from someone professionally taught and trained specifically for pregnant and postpartum moms. Don’t ever forget, YOU KNOW YOUR BODY BEST!! Therefore, most importantly, ALWAYS listen to it and your gut feel. From my personal experience, you can talk to all the doctors and specialists, but it comes down to you knowing your body best, trusting your intuition, and acting on that — in addition to heeding advice from the professionals you have chosen to surround yourself with during this extra special and fragile time in yours (& baby’s) life. No one is a better advocate for you and your baby than YOU! Make sure you surround yourself with a great professional team and support system surrounding you!
Here’s to some healthy and happy workouts ahead with a healthy and happy mama and baby!
WAIT A MINUTE…
What’s a prenatal and postnatal exercise specialist?! Before we officially dive on in, let’s start with a prenatal and postnatal exercise specialist is so you know who you’re chatting with here and taking advice from and understanding her credentials so you can trust her and her recommendations.
A prenatal and postnatal exercise specialist is someone who is trained specifically on the knowledge of exercise physiology and kinesiology as it is related to pregnancy. A prenatal and postnatal exercise specialist is someone who is trained to instruct mamas or mama-to-be’s on evidence-based exercises and fitness goals that are important to include in exercise programs for women who are prenatal, pregnant, or postpartum. And most importantly, not overtrain the mama or fetus and recognize when to make modifications and HOW to make modifications.
OK, NOW, LET’S DO THIS…
What are the best moves for improving Diastasis Recti?
While research is increasing and shows Diastasis Recti gets better with exercise, it does not clearly provide a standard of exercises that should be performed. Research shows contradicting results- ie- some studies show that crunches help, while others say crunches put too much pressure on the abdominals and makes the condition worse.
Here is what we DO know about healing DR:
How to heal Diastasis Recti:
- Correct your posture- such a simple step. Adapting to your “new/old” body after being pregnant for 9 months can take some mindful adjustments. Posture is huge! Stack the rib cage and the pelvis, shoulders back. These small changes take the pressure off of our linea alba, the tissue between our rectus abdonimis, aka our 6 pack muscle, where ab separation occurs.
- Daily transverse abdominis and pelvic floor exercises (most beneficial if done consistently). Ex: Transverse Abdominis (TVA) breaths, TVA marches, bird dogs, modified planks -engaging the TVA and pelvic floor while doing exercises (think “kegel” while performing core exercises). Pelvic Floor exercises such as quick squeezes of the pelvic floor (kegel), Kegel holds.
- Full body strengthening and stretching (don’t just focus on core).
- Avoid exercises that make DR worse (look for coning of the abdomen and modify until you can properly engage those muscles and/or have regained strength).
Listening to YOUR body is what is important.
What is the best way to strengthen and restore your pelvic floor after giving birth? And how/when/where to begin?
What is the pelvic floor and why should I be concerned about it?
The PF is a network of tissue, ligaments, and muscles that acts as a sling for your insides. It extends from your pubic bone to the base of your spine, like a hammock. The PF’s job is to hold the baby in, and after delivery to hold your bladder and reproductive organs in.
The PF works all day long, but works “over time” during pregnancy, with all the added pressure and weight. Ever feel heavy down there? Or after L&D, for lack of a better word, like your crotch is falling out? Keepin’ it real here! We have the PF to thank for that! Any insufficiencies in these muscles can cause pain, urinary incontinence, and altered movement.
It can take 4-6 weeks of consistent PF exercise (5x a week) to notice a change. It’s important to keep this muscle strong. But how do I do that? KEGELS, GIRLFRIEND.
Pelvic Floor Exercises from a Women’s Health PT
- Kegel Hold- squeeze and lift the PF by thinking of pulling both ends of the hammock. These muscles are also the muscles that stop the flow of urine. Hold for 5 seconds, relax for 10. Do 10 contractions- 3-4x PER DAY. Make sure to breathe through each one. Side note- Relaxing these muscles is just as important as working them!
- Kegel Quick Squeeze- Contract PF quickly 5x. No holds. Relax for 10. Repeat 10x.
- Engage the PF while doing other core exercises
Don’t set unrealistic expectations or goals for yourself and focus on feeling good mentally and physically!
Are there any hard “nos” with working out during pregnancy?
There is not a one size fits all postpartum exercise routine- just as pregnancy was, postpartum is also an individualized journey.
When should you start making modifications when you’re pregnant? And what are the best ways to do so?
Because all of our bodies grow babies differently there isn’t a designated week that ALL pregnant women should modify movements.
How soon postpartum can you start to get back to your regular workouts?
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