When it comes to ‘Exercise for Mums’, ‘Mums boot camps’ and ‘Post Natal fitness’ there are certain things all women who have had children of any age must know before signing themselves up.

Just recently I’ve noticed certain trainers or fitness specialists advertising so called Mums group training or ‘Mums bootcamp’, that word alone rings alarm bells for me… I know for some women it’s appealing to see battle ropes, box jumps, ab crunches, lifting heavy bags, etc. during a bootcamp style workout because it’s automatically makes you think, oh yeah that’ll burn some calories and get my pre baby body back! And actually for some Mums this may be totally fine, but please do yourself a favour before heading back to that boot camp, or any exercise for that matter! Make sure your trainer is being diligent with their pre-exercise questionnaire, if there’s no pre-exercise questionnaire then run away!

If you’re a Mum who’s had a Caesarean then expect questions like these before signing up:

  1. How long ago was your C-section?
  2. Do you have full sensation/feeling at the scar site?
  3. Is the scar raised or is it painful?
  4. Do you have your doctors approval to start exercise?

And if you’re a Mum who’s had a vaginal delivery then expect questions like these:

  1. How long were you pushing (final stage of labour) for?
  2. How big was the baby?
  3. Did you have any tearing or need an episiotomy?
  4. Did you need forceps or vacuum?
  5. Were there any complications during pregnancy or during your labour?
  6. Have you been given medical clearance to exercise?

These are all questions which need to be asked by a trainer so they can get an ideal picture of any potential risk factors for you, what type of exercise you need at the time, and whether or not you need to be referred out to a Women’s health Physio.

An obvious one which so many Mums don’t realise – Get your pelvic floor and abdominal function assessed by a trained Women’s Health Physio! Sorry your GP check up doesn’t cut it, neither does your Obstetrician check up, unless they’re in the minority and they do a complete internal assessment of the pelvic floor muscles and check if you still have any ab separation (diastasis recti). Apart of this post-natal check up may also include some checking of you hip stability, which is a general indicator of deep core and glute (butt) function.

Why bother?

I’m not writing to scare anyone! I see it as my responsibility to pass on the knowledge and educate my clients and anyone else who wants to listen.

A large majority of women will have some for of prolapse after a vaginal delivery unfortunately. According to Sydney Pelvic Floor Health 15-25% of women will suffer serious pelvic floor damage. The good news is that mild prolapse can be totally reversed and may simply resolve on its own, the bad news is that you may not even know you have a prolapse which then can be made worse through not doing the right exercise past natally, particularly returning to certain exercises which cause lots of intra abdominal pressure (lot’s of abdominal recruitment) I.e. Jumping, squatting, planks, crunches, lifting heavy objects, without being educated on how to use the deep core and pelvic floor muscles properly.  

So here are my recommendations before starting an exercise routine:

  1. See a well regarded Women’s Health Physio for your post-natal check up. Prepare yourself for a full internal exam.
  2. If you’re reading this and you’re pregnant I would and so do many Women’s Health Physio & some Obstetricians actually recommend having an internal exam around 22 weeks to rule out any hypertonic pelvic floor muscles (over tight pelvic floor can cause serious problems during labour). You’d see a WHP for this.
  3. If you do want to join a group or see a personal trainer then quiz them on what exercises you’ll be doing, if it’s pelvic floor friendly, if it’s ab separation friendly, if they work with Women’s Health Physio’s, how long they’ve been working with Mums for. They should have a detailed answer for each question and not just say yes we do all that. You want to know how they ensure your safety. And if they don’t have specific questions about your birth or your vagina then they probably aren’t starting off real well.

And if you happen to live in the St George area of Sydney or the lower North Shore of Sydney you may like my Movement for Mummas program. Group personal training with qualified onsite nannies! I provide all of the above criteria of for fitness, ask all the right questions and make you feel comfortable talking about topics many women simply do not talk about. Just visit http://nakedhealthpt.com/movement-for-mummas/ to enquire. We can also recommend great Women’s health Physio’s in and around the area too.