The female body is truly amazing! Growing a baby for nine months followed by birthing brings big changes of motherhood. Helping your body recover from childbirth is essential for both physical and emotional health and well-being.
How Does Pregnancy Affect Your Core and Pelvic Floor?
As your baby grows inside your belly, your abdomen separates. What to Expect explains:
During your first trimester of pregnancy, you might notice something different about your belly besides, of course, the baby bump: an accentuated ridge that runs from the bottom of the breast bone down the middle of the belly, known as the diastasis recti. This gap between the left and right sides of your abdominal muscle sometimes widens by a few centimeters as your baby grows and puts tension on the area. Women who are carrying multiples or have already been through several pregnancies are particularly prone to separation.https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/abs-exercises
Experts agree that traditional core exercises, like crunches, during pregnancy can actually worsen diastasis recti and be dangerous for your baby. After you give birth, there are safe exercises to help remedy the separation.
Pregnancy and childbirth also put pressure on the muscles of the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor provides support for the organs above it. A weak pelvic floor is responsible for common post-pregnancy incontinence when sneezing, jumping, running, or coughing.
What is Diastasis Recti?
During pregnancy, the two rectus abdominis muscles in the abdomen naturally separate. For some women, this separation is greater, but there is no universally accepted definition. The common definition is 2.7 cm or greater. Very few studies have been done on the condition.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5013086/#R15
Due to inconsistencies in definition, it is hard to establish prevalence. Researchers recommend all women be evaluated for Diastasis Rectis at various stages after giving birth.
Diastasis Recti is a condition that is responsible for the postpartum baby belly that can persist long after the pregnancy pounds are gone. Fortunately, you can rebuild your core safely with a systematic approach that slowly rebuilds muscles in the pelvic floor and abdomen, like the Safe and Strong online program by Nordic Fit Mama. It only takes 10 to 15 minutes a day.
Safe and Strong by Nordic Fit Mama Review
Riina Laaksonen is the mother of three children and instructor for the course. She is the Nordic Fit Mama! This five-week course not only covers rehabilitation your core and pelvic floor, but proper posture is emphasized. Breastfeeding and pregnancy can affect posture. The exercises and the vast information in this course is vital for helping your body recover from pregnancy and common issues like incontinence and back pain.
- WEEK 1 – Testing and identifying pelvic floor muscles
- WEEK 2 – Testing for separated abdominal muscles and exercises that help to fix diastasis recti
- WEEK 3 – Core training, mobility, and personal quality time
- WEEK 4 – Mobility, beautiful posture, and being reasonable towards yourself and your life situation
- WEEK 5 – Strengthening the core and making full body training part of your everyday life
The program starts off slowly so you gain strength safely. The exercises work to train your core muscles gradually so that eventually they activate on their own during post pregnancy activities. For example, you begin by testing and identifying your pelvic floor muscles. Nordic Fit Mama recommends new moms begin pelvic floor training and walking a few days after birth, but you should wait two months after giving birth before more rigorous exercise.
The main goals of the training are:
- Learning to locate the pelvic floor muscles and the deep muscles, and learning to train and relax them.
- Starting to build support at the core and improving the strength and control of core muscles. You should note here that training core muscles requires systematic work. For this reason the course is a good start, but the whole process can in some cases (such as mine) take even several years.
- Integrating core training with everyday life, i.e. making it part of everyday activities, in a way that suits each individual best.
- Learning to be merciful to yourself and your life situation and finding the joy in all doing. We reflect these things strongly to our surroundings, including our children, who are sensitive to our moods. Therefore it matters how you feel.
The online platform for this course is super easy to use. There’s a place to check off when you have completed the day’s lesson. The written and video instructions are very clear. In addition, the program emails you reminders of new lessons. You can easily review previous lessons as well. Course content is available for one month after it ends.
During the first week, you will learn how to maximize pelvic floor activation. The pelvic floor is under a lot of strain during pregnancy and vaginal delivery. The course teaches you to train these important muscles and use them during everyday activities like heavy lifting, picking up your baby, and sneezing. You also learn how to relax the pelvic floor and release including the use of a ball to release fascia.
The second week of the course dives into diastasis recti and the abdominal muscles while continuing to strengthen the pelvic floor. You learn how to test for separation of direct abdominal muscles. Testing is important before any training, in order that you do not begin too soon after childbirth or do the wrong kind of exercises. Riina advises:
Crunches, forceful rotating exercises, and sit-ups should be avoided completely at the beginning. You should never do direct abdominal muscle exercises until you can feel that your abdominal muscles do not separate when you do them. Other exercises to be avoided are those that cause pressure in the abdominal cavity, such as planking and push-ups.
When you start to train your abdominal muscles after childbirth, it is important to start gently and progress slowly.
The exercises are simple and very effective at strengthening the deep transverse abdominis muscles, which is located under the 6-pack abs. Its job is to compress the abdomen and support and stabilize the lower spine. It’s your deepest abdominal muscle and very important to core strength and health.
Get rid of your baby belly and fix your diastasis recti. Read more here: https://www.nordicfitmama.com/safe-and-strong-online-course-for-core-training-after-pregnancy/
During the third week of Safe and Strong, expands upon the previous weeks’ training, as well as encourage outdoor walks in nature. Mothers learn how to activate their pelvic floor during walks in order that the exercises become “integrated” into everyday routines. Self-care is emphasized. Upper body arm exercises with a stick are taught to release tension and improve upper back and shoulder circulation. These stick exercise release body tension that may build up from the postures of breastfeeding.
In week four, mothers are reminded to take care of themselves, learn new core exercises, and explore the relationship between the pelvic floor, pregnancy changes, and sex. Riina teaches us that posture is important for our self-esteem and preventing pain.
During pregnancy, the growing belly changes the posture and balance of your body. The posture does not always return to normal after childbirth automatically, because the body has grown used to the changes. Learning to perceive your body and posture correctly after pregnancy is important, because a good posture helps and guides the muscles to function well. A good posture also contributes to self-confidence.
The last week of the course focuses on energizing the body. Mobility and increased muscle strength are emphasized. A downloadable mobility training program will help you continue to progress towards your goals after the course ends. Important information for the recovery from cesarean surgical births is also included.
Although this course is designed for women who have recently given birth, diastasis recti, and weak pelvic floor problems can persist for years after childbirth. Whether you have recently given birth or your last birth was over a decade ago, you can benefit strongly from this course.
As a yoga teacher, my core is strong. It’s been 13 years since my last birth, yet I still suffer from some abdomen separation. I’ve long suspected my beloved planks were not helping. I appreciate the content of this course, as well as the emphasis on activation as well as relaxation. It’s amazing how these simple exercises are so powerful in rehabilitating a mother’s body.