Pregnancy - Training before and After birth.

Training while pregnant can be a worrying time for some mothers to be

 Even after birth it is a time when mothers need to be cautious as the body has gone through a huge shift structurally that may cause problems down the line if ignored. 

In this article we talk about:

  • Training during pregnancy (1st half)
  • Things to remember that will help a healthy birth (1st half)
  • Coming back to training after birth (2nd half)
  • How to stay healthy and make the return to your normal self a smooth and easy one. 
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Prenatal Training

Meaning before birth is a wonderful time. However, the body is making changes and it's vital you keep training. 

Focus on strength training. Why? 'Relaxin' is a hormone that is produced to relax ligament to make birth easier. Especially around the hips. However, if ligaments are not being controlled by strong muscles this can lead to complications early on. Therefore seek to perform safe strength training first to control and regulate this new change within your body. 

Prenatal Training =

Easier birth, healthier mind and personal confidence.

 

Training weights during pregnancy HAS to be managed.  But here are a quick few tips on things to remember. 

1. Do NOT lie on the flat of your back. 

Do shoulder pressing instead of you want to do some upper body work. After a period of time lying on your back as you may know this cuts off oxygen supply to the fetus. Therefore stick to incline or upright position. 

2. Avoid planks and crunches

For obvious reasons these should be avoided. Try doing single arm farmers carries instead but focus on glute, leg and back strength. Abdominal wall will stretch to make room for the baby so let the natural process occur.

3. Stick to the hips

Focus on generating some strength around the hips. 'Relaxin' is a hormone that is produced to relax ligament to make birth easier. However, if ligaments are not being controlled by strong muscles this can lead to complications with return to exercise and hip dysfunction if you dont keep on top of the glute work. 

 

There are other add-ons like ensuring to eat when hungry and ensure you are eating for 2. Also seek further advice from your doctor if experiencing any issues. However ensure you strength train with the help of a coach!

Postnatal - Meaning training after birth

The postpartum or postnatal period is the time after delivery.

Training after birth is something that a lot of new mums would love to do and return to normality. Along with having some well needed ‘me time’.

However, the body has now changed and needs to recover with correct strength training protocols.

*Please note the plank and crunches may cause more damage than it’s worth.*

So here are some guidelines on how to approach training after birth.

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Do's and Dont's: 

Firstly we must begin with what to avoid so that you have a clear concise idea when approaching your coach and rebuilding your body.

The goal is to rebuild the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles. In relation to strengthening these muscles firstly listen to your physiotherapist, they lead the way.

Don’t be afraid to ask your coach to communicate with your physio before you re-enter the gym and or personal training sessions.

You may actually feel you are able to do a lot in the gym and function as normal but when it comes to your core and loading your core here are some do’s and don’ts.

Avoid:

  • Sit ups
  • Crunches
  • Planks - anything that has you on all floors.

Avoid jumping jacks. Any aggressive jumping for that matter. These movements do not teach day to day patterns where the core is engaged and may sometimes discourage the abdominals to rebuild.

Do:

  1. Diaphragmatic breathing.
  2. Seated breathing work - 90-90 breathing (video attached below)
  3. Light weighted holds (opposite arm to that you hold the baby on especially) reteaching the body to brace in a standing and seated position.
  4. Quadruped breathing , stationary wood chop holds, regressed side planks. 
  5. Single leg work (split squats)
  6. Latt pulldown
  7. Glute bridge holds
  8. Single arm overhead press

Theres more that you can do but that should be enough for now.

The Goal over month 1-3

You want to reteach the body the basics.

Especially when or if there has been a definitive separation of the abdominals. Diastasis is commonly thought to be a two finger or more width separation for the rectus muscle bellies from the midline.

A physio can highlight this and should be part of the return to exercise process.

Gaining a knowledge of the abdominals condition is vital in programming for rebuilding the foundation for all movements. 

Work with your coach on rebuilding the core slowly. If you are struggling to recover after don't worry. However, it is imperative that a plan is in place to rebuild.

Conditioning work (heavy breathing)

From experience, conditioning is really what most women would like to do straight off the bat when they return to the gym. So what should you focus on? Firstly rebuild the aerobic base (steady state work 50-70% output). When you look at energy systems (breath and heart) this is the base for all other energy systems. Give it a good 6 weeks before you try stepping it up a notch. Starting with 20 minutes x 3 a week is perfect using some kind of formate like E.M.O.M.s or mixed modal word (modal work means modes of training ex. Bike, Squat, Ring row. Vary the movements to compliment your strength training).

Try something like:

  1. 10 cals on the  bike
  2. 6 ring rows
  3. 6 air squats to box

Repeat continuously for 20 minutes.

Weight training:

Weight training will help a lot and should be the priority. Note though that the barbell may not be the right decision right away. Try focusing on single leg movements for a while like split squats. Also when performing goblet squats or braced squats control the depth. Goblet box squats are a great way of reteaching ‘the brace’ while sitting briefly and regaining control of the pelvis.
 

Breathing:

Finally learning to regain control of the diaphragm is vital. Some women present cases of flared rib cages or shoulder breathing. This is where the diaphragm needs to be retrained. If you find that you cant ‘belly breath’ then you may need to begin retraining the breath. This can be found by entering your email address below for your FREE training guide and video footage on breathing exercises and more.

 

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Larry Brady