Written by Farah Ehsan a Mobility and Functional Movement teacher, under Olife Team. You can find her on instagram @flowbyfarah
As a new mom, the most surprising thing to me about motherhood is how physically demanding it is. Even as someone who’s been physically active most of her life, motherhood is a sport like no other.
Starting with pregnancy, we begin to experience sharing our body with another person. With that comes common symptoms of fatigue, joint pain, breathing difficulties. But the beauty of pregnancy is that those moments are nicely balanced with leaps of energy, inspiration and ambition. You are literally growing LIFE inside you!
Pregnancy takes the majority of the focus of our healthcare and wellbeing system - those 9 months where you are two in one (or more if you’re having twins). But what no one prepares you for, is how physically (and mentally) demanding the next couple of years are going to be. I’m here today to share with you that motherhood is a SPORT that you can train for! And like any sport, having the required strength and range of motion needed, is the best way to ensure enjoying your time, and preventing injuries along the way. Unfortunately, the common advice that’s given to new moms might have been the problem, rather than the solution.
First of all, take a moment to appreciate everything your pregnant body just went through. It is A LOT. And it leaves you with physical superpowers!
But then, we’re told NOT to lift anything heavy after having a baby. The reason is that the core takes time to heal after pregnancy, and improperly overloading the core before it’s ready to be loaded is one of the most common reasons for core and pelvic floor dysfunction. Meanwhile, mom is still lifting her growing baby every day, and navigating through life having to lift other things (hello groceries, stroller, car seat!) “Don’t lift anything heavy” becomes impractical advice, and for that reason, I much prefer teaching new moms how to actually pick up their baby properly, how to baby-wear functionally, and how to lift without aggravating their pelvic floor. These techniques are valuable for life, and can save a mother years of back pain due to compensations of the back muscles, and improper lifting.
Then, we’re told NOT to exercise. Well, the reality of parenting a young child is actually a daily marathon, and includes lifting, holding, carrying, bending, diapering, soothing, bathing, cuddling, and let’s not forget the home chores (that may or may never get done) every single day. When new moms are advised to delay exercise, their body and muscles continue getting weaker, which in turn, increases the pressure on the core and pelvic floor when carrying out daily life tasks, leaving mom feeling worse.
I wish there was a one-size-fits-all approach, but every mom’s recovery will be different. A better approach is to start easy, treat recovery like a process, and progressively increase slowly. Generally speaking, a new mom who hasn’t had complications, should start moving within the first 2-6 weeks. Moving does NOT mean going to CrossFit or going for a run - here are some helpful ideas:
- Start by going for a 10 minute walk, enjoy the fresh breeze.
- Always prioritize sleep!
- Building daily posture awareness.
- Start deep breathing exercises.
- Start activation and mobility exercises for the glutes, core and pelvic floor.
- Pay attention to any areas that might need extra focus.
Now is the time to build a solid foundation. Being a mother with young children is SO physically hard, but at this point in time, you are also the strongest that you have EVER been.