Are you a Strong Mother?! - Oxygen Strength and Fitness

Are you a Strong Mother?!

I regularly share with our members, strength tips for mums to be and new mums. Having trained through two pregnancies and helping others stay strong pre and post I know the demands put on the body both physically and emotionally. I’m not here to scare you, or tell you “you need to be an athlete” during this phase of your life, I just want to share some information.

It’s an awesome thing, that us women can produce another human being. But, we have to keep ourselves strong first in order to be able to care for those most precious to us.

So how do we do that?

We really want to protect are our upper back, glutes, and of course pelvic floor and core. Whether you go on to have a natural birth or c-section, your pelvic floor still takes a hammering during the 9 months of carrying.  With these areas nice and strong the strain is taken away from your lower back.

Exercises need modifications for each trimester and post natal but concentrating on these main body areas will stand you in good stead come Birth Day and beyond.  Some of my favourite exercises to use are, and I stress they are modified to the person and to the stage they are at.

  • Squats in any variation but racked squats in particular help balance up your core getting you ready for when you start carrying your toddler on your hip!
  • TRX back row. Keeping the upper back strong to improve posture preventing hunched shoulders.  Carrying that baby weight at the front of your body, breastfeeding and baby wearing, consoling all takes its toll on your posture.
  • Farmers walks and suitcase carries. Think carrying that car seat or bags of groceries. I know I’d rather carry a lot of bags in one run than lots of runs with less bags.
  • Hip thrusts, lateral band abductions, lunges for well rounded strong glutes.  Mom Butt or lack of it truly exists post birth and you want to work on getting that back as soon as possible to help protect your back.
  • Palloff Press, side, front and reverse planks, dead bugs or banded pullover leg extensions (my personal favourite and very versatile for many people especially lower back pain sufferers).  All these exercises strengthen the core without putting any pressure on abdominal wall.  All are safe if you have been diagnosed with Diastasis Recti.

You need to work unilaterally (one side at a time) to ensure balance and symmetry and reduce the risk of injuries through poor posture. Think single leg Romanian Deadlift, single leg Leg Press, one armed back row, Palloff Press, etc. I think you get the picture, anything just using one side of your body.

Pelvic floor. Poor old pelvic floor, it really takes a battering, and one area most neglected post natally. You are given the advice to go away and kegel your little heart out and everything will come back together. Sorry, that’s not the full story. I was told once to “Google” pelvic floor exercises by a nurse in my GPs!   New mums need more help than that. You need to re-connect or actually learn how to correctly engage your core, floor and breath during all movements.  We do more bending, twisting and carrying at home than at any gym workout!

Hormones and Emotions

Oh yeah, baby they are still E-R-A-T-I-C!!  Mental and emotional health post baby should not be put on the back burner. The first year can be tough on a new mum trying to get to grips with feeding, whether breast or bottle, and learning the crying cues of her new baby. All this while recovering from what is effectively a major operation and working on limited sleep. Hormones are shot to bits and emotions all over the place.

If you have a strong support network round you, fantastic, use them as much as you can. If not, try to pace yourself and take snippets of self rewards whenever possible. By that I mean anything that lifts your mood, makes you feel better. Music, bubble bath, tea and 10 minutes peace and quiet or a good book.

In summary

Never feel guilty for how you are feeling. Some days you will “Boss” it with a baby from the angels, other days you will feel like everything is crumbling around you and you just want to pound your head into the pillows (or maybe that was just me…)

Obviously we’ve just skimmed the surface of exercising and pregnancy.  Always get the all clear from your midwife or GP before starting any exercise program.  There are many considerations with pregnancy such as Diastasis Recti, Leaking (no it’s not just what happens), Flat Mom Butt (not a myth) to name a few but the above is a start to get a conversation going. I’ll be talking in more detail about these in future blogs. Leave a comment if any of this resonates with you.

Stay Strong Mamma x