Who knew that your weekly fitness class could be related to your leaky bladder? Or your nightly routine of 500 kegels could be doing more harm than good? But more importantly, who knew that there are experts, like Jodi, who specialize in helping keep you dry. Take heed of Jodi’s sound advice on exercises to avoid and habits to break and remember there is no “every woman”, each woman is unique and therefore needs to be assessed individually and given specific guidelines for her body.
Sadly the new mom is quite the target market these days. Most new moms want to lose weight, they want more energy, they want to feel stronger, they are tight for time and desperate for advice on how to make all these things happen… and fast. Sadly, there are more personal trainers and group fitness instructors who will gladly welcome these desperate new moms with open arms and throw them down into a plank, chase them around the track, and turn them into a hot sweaty mess in no time. What they will not tell these sweet mamas is that they might be damaging their fragile pelvic floors, shaking their unsupported organs up down and all around (well mostly down), pulling their abdominal muscles further apart with each sit up, and just destroying their bodies for years to come in the name of weight loss. If nothing out of that resonated with you, ask yourself this, how realistic is this weight loss game plan if you cant run without peeing your pants or pick up your kid without a stabbing pain shooting up your back? How long will you drag your body through that regimen? There are smarter ways to go about it mamas.
So why would a professional trainer or instructor not lead you on the correct path. Well the real answer is that they probably don’t know what the hell they are doing. They probably are nodding and smiling on the outside as you excitedly tell them about your newly discovered pregnancy. Inside they are thinking “shit. shit. shit. what the hell do I do with a pregnant woman?” and when you ask “can you still train me?” the reality of mortgages, phone bills, kids day care, etc. etc. etc. will flash before their eyes and they will confidently hug you and say “OF COURSE!”. And you know what, I feel somewhat sympathetic towards those trainers. They didn’t go looking for you, you went looking for them and dangled a cookie in their face. But the trainers and group instructors who actively seek out mamas and market just to you, and have invested little to no money or time in educating themselves on how to properly train pre and postpartum women… those trainers have no excuse. The courses aren’t that expensive in comparison to the fees a client pays for a trainer. The information is widely available in books, blogs, all over the internet for free! For FREE! But so many trainers haven’t set aside five minutes of their time to do a quick read of how to properly train new mamas. Or they did, ten years ago, and think they are good for life.
So mamas, know this: you are an easy target. You are also a hot commodity. Find someone who can treat you well because you have value and deserve the best. Ask your trainer what they know about pre and postpartum fitness. If they had a baby and got fit super fast and that is what they are selling you as value….. believe me there is no value there. They may still know nothing. They may have been fortunate and had no issues at all. If they say they are going to help you lose weight fast or get strong fast but NEVER discuss the pelvic floor or transverse abdominus… lose them fast. If they talk about sit ups and running in the early stages of postpartum…. run away. If they throw you down into a burpee or push up….. laugh and walk away. If they ask you about your pregnancy, your labour, your delivery, your recovery…. if they do postpartum specific assessments, if they assess your breathing and if they ask you about how you are sleeping, how breastfeeding is going… if you are feeling depressed… if they look at you as a multifaceted entity then perhaps they are worth keeping. Ask them what education they have taken, if they are up to date on current research and new techniuqes and findings. And then ask them how long it will take to get you back to normal. If they give you a timeline… walk away. Because there is no timeline. There is no typical. You are paying a personal trainer for a PERSONAL program, not a generic run of the mill program. Let them assess your body, your fitness, your recovery and work with where you are now.
It doesn’t have to be a personal trainer’s niche to be able to train a new mama (or soon to be mama) properly. But because I believe birth should be treated like an injury, they should be doing the same research that they would do if you had told them that you just had an ACL surgery. I guarentee they would be doing a bit more research to make sure they don’t aggravate that (I HOPE). But sadly, you could be silently damaging your body, your pelvic organs could be every so slowly slipping down… down… down.. until suddenly they fall right down, or out (really?… YES!) or pulling your abdominals further and further apart with no symptoms at all… except that nagging back pain. But because these are very gradual injuries (typically) you will never be able to point your finger at what (OR WHO) exactly triggered that prolapse, or that back injury, or the damn incontinence…..
So to finish my rant off. If you are a fitness professional, do some research on your clients coniditons before working wtih them and PREGNANCY and POSTPARTUM are conditions that require special consideration and modifications. Or if this is just not your thing and you hate the idea of slowly progressing and individualization, then REFER OUT. Find someone you trust and send them that way, your client will think highly of you for it and when someone asks them for a trainer they will think fondly of you. And if you are a mama or mama to be, treat yourself well, and make anyone who works with your body treat you like gold and earn your trust and respect… because you deserve it.