Postpartum lasts forever. Which is why it’s especially concerning that we live in a society that glamorizes this rush back to the “pre-baby body” and getting right back to your normal routine. No two birth experiences are the same, so no two postpartum healing timelines will be identical. That being said, whether you had a challenging pregnancy/labor/delivery and are feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck, or it went perfectly according to plan and you’re feeling fantastic, you need to spend time restoring your core.
Before we get into why, let’s talk about your core. Most often people hear “core” and think: 6 pack. While, yes, these 6-pack muscles do contribute to your core, they are only one part of it. You core includes everything from your neck all the way down to your pelvic floor! This means your diaphragm, the muscles running parallel to your spine, internal and external obliques, transverse and rectus abdominis (those 6 pack muscles), and your pelvic floor. Your core is HUGE! And essentially...the point of connection between the upper and lower body: i.e.all functional movement.
In pregnancy, there are massive changes that happen within the core. The rib cage widens, there is a normal and expected separation of the abdominal muscles, increased pressure on the pelvic floor due to the weight of the growing uterus and baby, and increased stress on the lumbar spine and pelvis. All of this happens gradually over the course of the pregnancy. Then, we have our babies, wait 6 weeks (maybe 8) and are given the OK to resume “normal” activity. This is a recipe for disaster...no matter how great you’re feeling.
Let’s go back to the core: the connection between the upper and lower body, remember? Well now we’re healing from diastasis (separation of the rectus abdominis-which 100% of women have by the time they are full term), your ribs, pelvis and hips are all slowly adjusting to no longer needing to make room for a baby, and whether you’ve had a vaginal birth or a cesarean-you could be dealing with pelvic floor dysfunction. All of this is going on, and women are getting back into the gym, doing planks and sit-ups, lifting weights and trying feverishly to get back to where they were pre-baby. Here’s the thing: none of this is safe if you aren’t intentionally working to rehab the core...and not just the 6 pack muscles...all of it (hint: no room for sit-ups here!)
So what are some of the things that we see as a result of this?
-Incontinence...that’s right; peeing in your pants; which is something 1 in 3 women complain of after childbirth. In the CrossFit world, peeing when you jump rope, box jump or squat is spoken about like it’s the norm...when it’s so far from normal and a sign of dysfunction.
-The “pouch” that won’t go away, a.k.a. Distasis recti.
-Hernias, back issues, Sciatic pain...all of which can occur months and years later!
In CrossFit: every movement we do is with the intention of “core to extremity.” CrossFit is all about functional movements...what we do in the day to day. With this in mind, yardwork, lifting our children, moving furniture, etc. it all needs to start with a strong core. This is why it is SO important to dedicate time and training in the postpartum period to intentional core strengthening. This is why Dumbbells & Diapers exists. In this program you will learn how to properly-and safely-strengthen your whole core while also working on total strength and conditioning. This program isn’t about getting your pre-baby body back...it’s about finding strength in your new body to help you become the best version of yourself. For every new mom you see on Instagram who looks like she “snapped back,” there are probably two more who are peeing when they laugh (and let’s be honest...she may be one of them.) Give yourself the opportunity to heal properly, so that you can avoid the myriad of challenges/injuries that will come down the line with core dysfunction.
To find out more about the Dumbbells & Diapers program, click HERE