Awesome Ab Tip #2

Ensure Your Ribs Don’t Flare

My first tip for achieving “Awesome Abs” was Stop Drawing In Your Belly Button. So, how did you go? Did you manage to relax and soften your belly more often when you sitting, lying or whenever you were not loading your body, and letting your core muscles relax when they weren’t required?

As discussed in my first tip, whatever it means to you, having ‘awesome abs’ is something we should all work towards, especially from a functional perspective, so that we can live an active, healthy, fulfilled lives, both now and in the future.

So, what’s tip #2?

It’s another really simple tip: Ensure Your Ribs Don’t Flare!

But, what is rib flare?

Well, during pregnancy, as the abdomen stretches and the uterus (where bub hangs out) enlarges and expands up, many expectant mums experience the baby pressing up under her ribs and chest.

The growing uterus obstructs the movement of the diaphragm, which is needed for deep breathing. With the increased pressure in the diaphragm, due to it’s inability to move as freely as it normally would, the rib cage is pushed out sideways and forwards, resulting in rib flare (think of a bell and the shape it is at the bottom), and also generally rib pain.

Ok, but why should you ensure your ribs don’t flare?

Reason #1:

When the ribs are flared, the spine in upper back, or thoracic spine, gets pulled forward into extension. This affects the ability of the shoulder blades to slide across the ribs, and affects shoulder range of motion and stability.

Reason #2:

When the ribs are flared, the spine in lower back, or lumbar spine, also gets pulled into extension, which results in your pelvis moving into an anterior pelvic tilt, a similar position it was in when you were in the later stages of your pregnancy. Essentially your stomach is pushing forward – not a great look, especially when you’re not pregnant!

This pelvic position also causes your hip flexors, the muscles at the front of your hips, and back extensors to tighten, while your abdominals, glutes (buttock) and hamstring muscles will lengthen. This leads to tightness in the front of your hips, discomfort or pain in the lower back and weakness in the glutes.

Reason #3:

When the ribs are flared, not only is the spine out of a more neutral, or more optimal functioning position, the abdominals also get turned off, or relaxed, which results in spinal instability and a “pouchy” tummy (not the look your wanting to achieve!)

Reason #4:

Finally, when the ribs are flared, you are unable to breath efficiently, particularly when on the breathe out, which in turn makes it more challenging for the body to stimulate the parasympathetic “rest & digest” state, and will keep you in a state of stress! This is not good for your mental health or your digestive health!

Don’t believe me! Give it a try:

Stick your ribs out and take 3 to 5 deep breaths in and out, and notice if you can fully exhale each one. I think you’ll agree it doesn’t take long before you feel a bit wound up or stressed. Imagine being in this state all day. Or are you?

Now, try this – start by taking take a deep breath in and then exhale like you are blowing out candles on a cake. Focus on ‘closing’ your ribs and feel your ribs depress and almost soften in the way they feel. Keeping the ribs in this depressed position take 3 to 4 more deep breaths.

How much calmer do you feel?

Ongoing rib flare in the post-partum period impacts on your spinal alignment, your ability to breathe efficiently and affects the repair of your diastasis recti (abdominal separation)

Hmmm… and as we discussed in “Awesome Ab Tip #1”, if all of those areas are affected then “Awesome Abs” are just not going to happen!

So, your next challenge is to have a look at the position of your ribs, and ensure that they are not resembling the bottom of a bell – rather they are depressed or ‘closed’ towards the centre of your body.

Having a well functioning core muscle system will assist with repairing your diastasis recti (abdominal separation), improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your breathing, help restore your core and contribute to having awesome abs!

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Jody is a pregnancy and post-natal specialist, with tertiary qualifications in exercise science and registered as a Level 3 Exercise Professional with Fitness Australia.
Jody is also a mum of two young children, and therefore understands the demands and challenges of being a mum.
Jody is passionate about educating, energising and empowering pregnant and post-natal women through the provision of safe but effective exercise programs and fitness sessions.
Contact me today to see how I can help you with your fitness and health!
Disclaimer: This article is advice only. All individuals should discuss the suitability of their health and exercise program with their doctor, exercise professional, physiotherapist or midwife.
For further advice about your individual fitness needs, speak to a pregnancy and post-natal exercise professional, women’s health physiotherapist or health professional.

Awesome Abs Tip #1

Stop Drawing In Your Belly Button!

I am not a fan of focusing on aesthetics when I start working with a new mum, especially as the majority of the gorgeous women I work with have just been on this amazing & beautiful journey of carrying and giving birth to a tiny little miracle.

However, I am aware that the majority of mums would like to reclaim their bodies after having their little ones, start feeling energised again and look the best they can, which includes having a little less around the mid-section.

But what does having awesome abs mean to you?

Does it mean having a flat stomach?

Does it mean feeling like you are strong in your mid-section and that your pelvis is not going to give way if you lift a heavy item or your lower back is going to go out without you?

Does it mean losing that ‘muffin top’ that seems to like to hang around all over your pants?

Or does it simply mean feeling good about yourself when you go out with the love of your life or your girlfriends?

Whatever it means to you, having ‘awesome abs’ is something we should all work towards, especially from a functional perspective, so that we can live an active, healthy, fulfilled lives, both now and in the future.

Drawing in your belly button, or “engaging your core”, all the time is not a good thing to do for your body.

Though it might make you look aesthetically better, it does not support your body with functioning optimally.

But why?

Our core muscle system consists of your deep core muscles, which includes your diaphragm, transversus abodminis muscle (“corset” muscle), pelvic floor and multifidus  (muscles that run between the vertebrae in the spine)

And it includes the muscles that are fundamental to the deep core working effectively, including your rectus abdominus (‘six-pack’ muscle), obliques (external & internal), gluteus maximus (buttock) and erector spinae (muscles on the spine).

For muscles to work effectively and efficiently, the need to be able to contract and relax to their full length when required and be able to work through their full range of motion.

If our belly button is drawn in the space in our abdominal cavity is reduced, and, therefore, the space for the diaphragm to contract and move down into on the inhale (breath in), which increases the pressure in the abdomen. This in turn hinders our ability to breath deeply, and, more importantly, affects the function and the demands on the rest of the core muscle system.

Think of it like a juice box. If you held a juice box gently around the side and gently blew into the straw, the air would get taken in and, if there was juice in the box, bubbles would be produced. But nothing else would happen.

Now, if you held the juice box tightly and did the same thing, the air would not have very much space to go into, so you would likely end up with the air and juice spirting back out the top. And, if you blew too hard, you may even see the juice box split open. Why? Because, the air has to go somewhere.

And that’s the same with the core muscle system. If your core muscle system is already pulled tight, and then it needs to contract to withstand more pressure, the pressure builds within the abdominal cavity, and there’s no where for the pressure to go except for up, down or out!

So, the result can potentially be:

  • pelvic floor dysfunction
  • prolapse (sagging or bulging of the pelvic organs into the vagina) or
  • hernia (an organ pushes through an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place).

And, well, a sucked in tummy sags when you finally breathe out and relax.

Therefore, we need to be able to turn on the core muscle system on when it is required, and relaxes when it is not needed.

We need to ensure that when we push, pull or perform any movement where there is an increase in intra-abdominal pressure in our bodies, that our transversus abdominus contracts when our core muscles engage, providing lower back and pelvis stability and preventing injury.

So, your challenge  is to simply stop drawing in your belly button!

Relax and soften your belly when you are sitting, lying or whenever you are not loading your body, and let your core muscles relax.

Having a well functioning core muscle system will assist with repairing your diastasis recti (abdominal separation), improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your breathing, help restore your core and contribute to having awesome abs!

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Jody is a pregnancy and post-natal specialist, with tertiary qualifications in exercise science and registered as a Level 3 Exercise Professional with Fitness Australia.
Jody is also a mum of two young children, and therefore understands the demands and challenges of being a mum.
Jody is passionate about educating, energising and empowering pregnant and post-natal women through the provision of safe but effective exercise programs and fitness sessions.
Contact me today to see how I can help you with your fitness and health!
Disclaimer: This article is advice only. All individuals should discuss the suitability of their health and exercise program with their doctor, exercise professional, physiotherapist or midwife.
For further advice about your individual fitness needs, speak to a pregnancy and post-natal exercise professional, women’s health physiotherapist or health professional.

7 Reasons To See A Women’s Health Physiotherapist

I am so passionate about women’s health, particularly during the journey of becoming and being a mum.

In my ideal world, every woman who has a baby would be reviewed by a women’s health physiotherapist following the birth of their child.

A woman’s body goes through so much during the journey from conception to the birth of their precious child, that on the outside no one would know just how much recovery a woman’s body has to go through while adjusting to her new life  as a mum and caring for her new baby.

What exactly is a Women’s Health or Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist?

A women’s health or pelvic floor physiotherapist is a physiotherapist who holds post-graduate qualifications in musculoskeletal issues associated with pregnancy, birth, post-natal, breastfeeding and menopause. They are trained to understand the life-stages and changes experienced by women, and the impacts these have on a woman’s body.

So, why should I see a Women’s Health or Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist?

As an exercise specialist, there are many reasons why I refer my clients to a Women’s Health Physiotherapist.

However, the following are the 7 main reasons why any woman, particularly a new mum, should make an appointment to be reviewed by a Women’s Health Physiotherapist:

  1. Painful scar tissue (caesarean, episiotomy, tear)
  2. Have a bulge or feeling of ‘heaviness’, discomfort, pulling dragging or dropping in the vagina
  3. Accidently leaking urine, wind, stool when you exercise, play sport, laugh, cough or sneeze
  4. Urgency to pass urine or to use your bowels
  5. Passing urine frequently or constantly needing to go to the toilet
  6. Finding it difficult to empty your bladder or bowel
  7. Suffer from pelvic pain or experience pain during or after intercourse

“Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live”

– Jim Rohn

Returning to exercise or sport after having a baby is one that should be gradual and with care. If you are looking for some guidance, please refer to my blog Getting Active As A New Mum.

And, if your personal trainer, coach or fitness professional does not ask you questions about your pelvic floor, test your deep abdominal strength, take time to ask about any other conditions or issues you are currently dealing with as a new mum or make modifications for the stage you are at postpartum, it may be time to find a new trainer!

At MumaBubs, we throughly screen all of our new clients, and ensure that we know as much as possible about each women’s motherhood journey, before they start sessions with us. And, we now recommend all of our new clients, and expectant mums, both current and new clients, take the time to be reviewed by a Women’s Health Physiotherapist. 

You have to live with your body for the rest of your life. And, if it looks good but is not functioning well, then that affects the quality of your life both now, and when your little ones have grown up.

Take the time to care for yourself so you can live life to the full and enjoy every moment with confidence!

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Jody is a pregnancy and post-natal specialist, with tertiary qualifications in exercise science and registered as a Level 3 Exercise Professional with Fitness Australia.
Jody is also a mum of two small children under 5, and therefore understands the demands and challenges of being a mum.
Jody is passionate about educating, energising and empowering pregnant and post-natal women through the provision of safe but effective exercise programs and fitness sessions.
Contact me today to see how I can help you with your fitness and health!
Disclaimer: This article is advice only. All individuals should discuss the suitability of their exercise program with their doctor, exercise professional, physiotherapist or midwife.
For further advice about your individual fitness needs, speak to a pregnancy and post-natal exercise professional, women’s health physiotherapist or health professional.

Pram Posture Tips

One of the best activities for new mums is going for a walk with their new baby in the pram. It is a wonderful way to get in some exercise, and most babies love the movement of the pram and the sights and sounds of being outdoors.

 However, the way you push your pram is very important. It may seem like a simple, uncomplicated activity. However, if you are not using good form, you could do more harm than good.

Here’s a few quick tips to remember when walking with you pram: shutterstock_235348963

Keep your body upright, or slightly leaning forward, and your focus forward not down to the ground.

Your hips should be kept close to the pram and be aligned underneath your shoulders. This is particularly important when you start including more hills in your walks, as it will help prevent back pain that can be associated with walking. And, by using this posture, you will start to use your leg and buttock muscles instead of your back. And, well, who doesn’t want stronger legs and a tighter butt!

Keep your shoulder blades relaxed with your elbows bent and close to your body, or just slightly in front of your body.

Your chest should be upright, however, your ribs should be soft and closed, not sticking out. And, your hands should be relaxed on the handle bar and your wrists should be in a neutral position. Most prams come with adjustable handle bars so make sure the handle of your pram is adjusted for you and this will ensure that you can maintain your upright posture.

shutterstock_196137764Allow your breathing to be natural so that as you breathe in, your rib cage expands, your diaphragm fills with air as it lowers, your belly softens and your pelvic floor can expand and work with the rest of the core muscles to manage pressure within the abdomen. As your breathe out, the reverse process should occur, resulting in the gentle activation of the pelvic floor and deep lower abdominals, and the closing of the ribs. This will help to support your lower back and pelvis, and ensuring that you are supporting the recovery and rehabilitation of your pelvic floor and core muscles.

Alternate swinging with one arm. Rather than keeping both hands on the pram during you walk, consciously alternate swinging one arm by your side, while pushing the pram with the other. It is more natural to swing our arms when we walk (we don’t normally walk with our arms still do we?), and this will help prevent neck and shoulder pain.

And, these same tips apply when you get the all clear to start jogging with your pram.

Check out my other post, Get The Most Out Of Your Walk, for other tips of getting the most out of every walk!

Happy walking!

 

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Jody is a pregnancy and post-natal specialist, with tertiary qualifications in exercise science and registered as a Level 3 Exercise Professional with Fitness Australia.
Jody is also a mum of two small children under 5, and therefore understands the demands and challenges of being a mum.
Jody is passionate about educating, energising and empowering pregnant and post-natal women through the provision of safe but effective exercise programs and fitness sessions.
Contact me today to see how I can help you with your fitness and health!
Disclaimer: This article is advice only. All individuals should discuss the suitability of their exercise program with their doctor, exercise professional, physiotherapist or midwife.
For further advice about your individual fitness needs, speak to a pregnancy and post-natal exercise professional, women’s health physiotherapist or health professional.

Get The Most Out Of Your Pram Walks

Walking is such a great low impact, pelvic floor safe, energising activity, and perfect for helping you feel energised and start reclaiming your body after having your baby.

We are all aware of the benefits of walking and getting out into the fresh air, including:

  • stimulating those feel-good endorphins
  • managing your stress and anxiety levels
  • improving your health and fitness
  • contributing to the prevention of chronic health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease and osteoporosis.

Your little ones also enjoy the movement of being in the pram, the fresh air and all the new sights and sounds around them.

For some women there is a strong desire to get back to more challenging and intensive workouts, such as jogging or running, after having a baby, especially if they’ve had to stop during pregnancy. However, during those first 6 months, your pelvic floor, your abdominal muscles and possibly even your pelvis may not be ready as you are.

So, how do I you get the most out of your walks in the early months?

Start out gradually. In the early weeks, focus on gentle walks to get you out into the fresh air and provide a break for you and your baby.

Use these walks as a way to:

  • clear your mind
  • manage the stress and anxiety that sometimes comes in the early days of having a new baby, and
  • to release those feel-good endorphins.

Then once you’ve been cleared by your health professional, and you’re ready to increase the intensity, start with adding in intervals of brisk walking.

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Always choose flat surfaces. This helps with avoiding additional impact and jarring on your body or additional loading on the pelvic floor.

Always keep hydrated and ensure that your blood sugar is not low. Take some snacks with you in case you start to feel hungry or light-headed.

Make sure you are wearing supportive exercise gear, particularly a good bra or sports top. This will ensure you feel comfortable and supported while walking. There is nothing worse then bouncing, sore boobs when you’re trying to have an energising walk!

And don’t forget to wear a good pair of supportive walking shoes to prevent any injury to your lower body, including your feet, ankles, knees and pelvis. Remember, in the first 6 months after having your baby, the hormone relaxin is still subsiding, therefore, your joints, ligaments and other tissues are still more susceptible to injury and damage.

If you are breastfeeding, try and feed your little one before going for your walk. This will help with your own personal comfort, and, hopefully, your little one will be more content, and hopefully, have a nap during the walk!

Keep the pram load low. Apart from the weight of your baby, try and minimise any additional load in your pram. Though your general muscle strength may still be good, your entire body, including your pelvic floor strength, will still be recovering. After having your baby, focus on training the weakest part of your body, your pelvic floor. Keeping the load in your pram to a minimum will ensure you are preventing any downward pressure on the pelvic floor from the strain that can come with pushing a heavy pram, which in turn, protecting your pelvic floor.

Pram Posture. The way you push your pram is so important as you could do more harm than good. Making sure you are standing upright (no hunching!), your shoulders are kept relaxed.

Check out my blog about Pram Posture for more important tips!

Breathe. Allow your breathing to be natural so that as you breathe in, your rib cage expands, your diaphragm fills with air as it lowers, your belly softens and your pelvic floor can expand and work with the rest of the core muscles to manage pressure within the abdomen. As your breathe out, the reverse process should occur, resulting in the gentle activation of the pelvic floor and deep lower abdominals, and the closing of the ribs. This will help to support your lower back and pelvis, and ensuring that you are supporting the recovery and rehabilitation of your pelvic floor and core muscles.

Interval walking.

Michelle Kenway, an Australian Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and author of Inside Out, has written an article about Interval Walking. This gives you some great tips on how to increase your walking intensity safely, while still enabling you to get a great workout to burn body fat and increase your fitness.

If you really are keen to get jogging, and you have checked your abdominal muscle and pelvic floor control, start with a “walk jog” first, alternating periods of jogging with walking, to test out your body.

Finally, with both walking and jogging, if something doesn’t feel right, it probably means something isn’t right and shouldn’t be ignored.

If this is the case, always seek advice from a Women’s Health Physiotherapist or a Pregnancy and Post-Natal Exercise Specialist.

For those early months, while your body is still healing and rebuilding, focus on walking and, more importantly, making the most of every walk!

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Jody is a pregnancy and post-natal specialist, with tertiary qualifications in exercise science and registered as a Level 3 Exercise Professional with Fitness Australia.
Jody is also a mum of two small children under 5, and therefore understands the demands and challenges of being a mum.
Jody is passionate about educating, energising and empowering pregnant and post-natal women through the provision of safe but effective exercise programs and fitness sessions.
Contact me today to see how I can help you with your fitness and health!
Disclaimer: This article is advice only. All individuals should discuss the suitability of their exercise program with their doctor, exercise professional, physiotherapist or midwife.
For further advice about your individual fitness needs, speak to a pregnancy and post-natal exercise professional, women’s health physiotherapist or health professional.

Getting Active As A New Mum: Guidelines For The Early Months

Returning to exercise, including fitness classes, sport, running or any other high-impact activities after childbirth, may in fact do you more harm then good.

High-impact activities, such as those listed above, in the first 4 to 6 months after you’ve brought your new baby into the world may result in weakening the pelvic floor, and potentially leading to bladder or bowel issues, or pelvic organ prolapse – none of which anyone wants!

When considering re-introducing some form of exercise or sport back into your routine,  keep the following exercise guidelines in mind during the first 6 months after having your baby:

1. Include Pelvic Floor Exercises

The main function of the pelvic floor muscles are to support the bladder, the uterus (womb) and the bowel, and therefore play an important role in bladder and bowel control, as well as sexual sensation.

By strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, the muscles become stronger, and therefore provide increased support for your abdominal and pelvic organs, and your pelvis and lower back, as well as preventing such issues as incontinence and prolapse.

If you want more information on why you should do your pelvic floor exercise, see my blog 6 Great Reasons To Do Pelvic Floor Exercises.

Correct technique is also crucial, which is why it is something we focus on during the 4-week NewMuma Program.

Following the birth of your baby, most women are provided with information in relation to pelvic floor exercises. If you are unsure how to do your pelvic floor exercises, seek advice from your Obstetrician, Midwife, a Women’s Health Physiotherapist or a Post-Natal Exercise Specialist.

There are also great resources available for you to refer to, such as those put together by the Continence Foundation of Australia and Pelvic Floor First.

2. Include Post-Natal Abdominal Bracing

Abdominal bracing is a light contraction of your deep lower abdominals, and holding that very light contraction while maintaining normal breathing and moving your arms, legs and/or torso. Being able to effectively brace your abdominals will ensure your lower back and pelvis are stabilised and your pelvic floor is supported.

Like your pelvic floor exercises, correct technique is crucial, and therefore it is another major focus of the 4-week NewMuma Program.

Gentle progression is also very important. If you try to progress to quickly, or miss any stages of learning to brace your abdominals, you may have underlying deep abdominal muscle weakness, which could potentially cause back pain, or place downward pressure on your pelvic floor.

3. Aim for 30-minutes of Low-Impact Activity Each Day

Walking, post-natal exercise classes and swimming or aqua classes (once bleeding has stopped) are all great low-impact activities to include when you’re a new mum.

These types of exercises are not only good for your physical health, but are also so good for your mental wellbeing and managing the additional stresses of caring for a newborn.

However, remember that this is a time when you, your family and your new baby are all adjusting to a new chapter of your life. You will be dealing with the extra demands of being a new mum, feeding and interrupted sleep.

So, be gentle with yourself. Start with short walks, about 10 minutes, then gradually increase a minute or two with each walk. Listen to your body, and ensure that the activity you include leaves you feeling energised with a lifted mood, and not exhausted.

Finally, if something doesn’t feel right, seek advice from a Women’s Health Physiotherapist, your Child Healthcare Nurse or from a Post-Natal Exercise Specialist.

4. Avoid High-Impact Activities

Jogging, running, and any activity that sees you jumping and jarring your body, which also places additional load on your pelvic floor, is considered a high-impact activity to be avoided in the first 6 months after having your baby.

Why should I wait?

During pregnancy, research shows that pelvic floor strength gradually declines, and the increasing weight of your baby contributes to this reduction in pelvic floor strength.

Further, your body releases the hormone ‘relaxin’ during pregnancy, which softens the tissues in your body, including your pelvic floor, which makes your body more shutterstock_235348963susceptible to injury or damage.

During childbirth, the pelvic floor muscles are placed under great stress resulting in stretching, and even possible damage, depending on the type of delivery.

One of the roles of the pelvic floor is to support the pelvic organs, which includes your bladder, uterus (womb) and rectum (back passage).

The ‘Boat Theory’ analogy is one way to help you think about the role of the pelvic floor muscles in supporting your pelvic organs.

Imagine that your pelvic organs (your bladder, uterus and bowel) are a boat sitting on the water, your pelvic floor. The ‘boat’ is attached by ‘ropes’, your supportive ligaments, to a jetty. If the ‘water level’ is normal, that is your pelvic floor is healthy, and there is no tension on the ‘ropes’.

As a result of pregnancy and the birth of your baby, your pelvic floor muscles have been stretched and lengthened, then the ‘water level’ will be lower, and there is more tension on the ‘ropes’, your supporting ligaments.

Boats-compressedIf you do not strengthen your pelvic floor, therefore reducing the tension on the ‘ropes’ by increasing the water level, then over time the supportive ligaments can overstretch and weaken, particularly if you return to high intensity or impact activities, and you are at increased risk of developing a prolapse.

Thank you to The Continence Foundation of Australia for this wonderful diagram showing “The Boat Theory’.

Therefore, following the birth of your baby your pelvic floor muscles need time to recover and strengthen, and for the effect of relaxin to subside so that your joints and ligaments return to their original position and stabilise, which can take up to 5 to 6 months for some women.

High-impact exercise is generally best avoided for at least 4 months after the birth of your baby, to enable your pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles to learn to re-activate and to strengthen. This will reduce the risk of prolapse, incontinence & chronic pelvic pain & pelvic joint injury AND prevent injuries to your pelvis, spine, hips, knees and ankles.

From 4 months on it may be suitable for some women to gradually return to such activities, including jogging or running. However, it is highly recommended that you consult with a Women’s Health Physiotherapist to ensure that your body, particularly your pelvic floor, is ready for these high impact activities.

5. Include Your Baby In Your Exercise

In the early days it is so important to spend time with your baby, getting to know them and bonding with them.

It is also so impshutterstock_381138673ortant to take the time to look after yourself, as a happy, healthy mum means a happy baby.

Including your little one in your exercise means that not only do you get the activity you require to strengthen and rebuild your body after the amazing journey it has just been through, but also enables you to spend time bonding with your little one.

Going for walks and mums and bubs post-natal exercise sessions, such as our 4-Week NewMuma Program, are great ways for you spend time with you new baby but also get the much needed activity you need to be happy and healthy.

Remember, it took 9 months for your body to grow and nurture your precious cargo, so be gentle on yourself and give yourself time to get back into shape.

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Jody is a pregnancy and post-natal specialist, with tertiary qualifications in exercise science and registered as a Level 3 Exercise Professional with Fitness Australia.
Jody is also a mum of two young children, and therefore understands the demands and challenges of being a mum.
Jody is passionate about educating, energising and empowering pregnant and post-natal women through the provision of safe but effective exercise programs and fitness sessions.
Contact me today to see how I can help you with your fitness and health!
Disclaimer: This article is advice only. All individuals should discuss the suitability of their exercise program with their doctor, exercise professional, physiotherapist or midwife.
For further advice about your individual fitness needs, speak to a pregnancy and post-natal exercise professional, women’s health physiotherapist or health professional.

6 Great Reasons To Do Pelvic Floor Exercises

 Ok, we all know we need to “do our pelvic floor exercises”, but why?

When we are pregnant, our doctors, our midwives, our girlfriends, all ask us if we are doing our pelvic floor exercises.

Once our little bundle of joy enters the world, we get told to do our pelvic floor exercises.

And, then, if we experience any issues, such as leaking, lower back pain, pelvis pain, or goodness forbid, a prolapse, we get asked, did we do our pelvic floor exercises!

But, as mums we have so many other things on our mind, plus time often does not seem to be our friend.

So WHY should you make the time to do your pelvic floor exercises?

Well, here’s 6 great reasons why:

1. Prevent Uncomfortable Leakages

I remember after having my Miss A, I was jumping on the trampoline with my Master J. I must have been about 9 months post-natal and I was horrified that I felt leakage! However, I had spent so much time focusing on rehabilitating my knee after surgery, that I had neglected another important muscle – my pelvic floor! And, yes, I should have known better.

One of the functions of the pelvic floor muscles is to keep the bladder closed, therefore stopping any leaking, which mostly happens with coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting, exercising, or, in my case, jumping.

And, the pelvic floor muscles tend to weaken with age, with menopause sometimes making incontinence worse, which in turn may lead to prolapse.

So, I can laugh about it now (and without concern of leaking!). But, if you don’t take the time to rehabilitate and strengthen your pelvic floor, then simple activities, like playing with your kids, become stressful, cause anxiety and can be potentially very embarrassing. And, then later in life, lead to more series issues that could have been prevented.

2. Stop Embarrassing ‘Wind’ Moments!

After you’ve had kids, for some reason, farts do become funny! (well, in my house they have!)

But, as women, we generally like to consider ourselves to be dignified human beings, especially when we’re out in public. So, the last thing we want to happen is embarrassing noises to occur because we had no control over our own body.

And, in reality, some women do find that following the birth of their little ones they have less control of this bodily function and they find it harder to hold on. This is because the pelvic floor muscles maintain bowel control as they close off the back passage, your rectum. 

Personally, I think another great reason to fit in time to do your pelvic floor exercises!

3. Prevent or Reduce Prolapse

A prolapse is the ‘sagging’ of the pelvic organs when the pelvic floorshutterstock_200938979 is slack, or weak, and therefore is unable to support the internal organs.

One of the roles of the pelvic floor is to support the pelvic organs, which includes your bladder, uterus (womb) and rectum (back passage).

The ‘Boat Theory’ analogy is one way to help you think about the role of the pelvic floor muscles in supporting your pelvic organs.

Imagine that your pelvic organs (your bladder, uterus and bowel) are a boat sitting on the water, your pelvic floor. The ‘boat’ is attached by ‘ropes’, your supportive ligaments, to a jetty. If the ‘water level’ is normal, that is your pelvic floor is healthy, and there is no tension on the ‘ropes’.

As a result of pregnancy and the birth of your baby, your pelvic floor muscles have been stretched and lengthened, then the ‘water level’ will be lower, and there is more tension on the ‘ropes’, your supporting ligaments.

Boats-compressedIf you do not strengthen your pelvic floor, therefore reducing the tension on the ‘ropes’ by increasing the water level, then over time the supportive ligaments can overstretch and weaken, particularly if you return to high intensity or impact activities, and you are at increased risk of developing a prolapse.

Thank you to The Continence Foundation of Australia for this wonderful diagram showing “The Boat Theory’.

In women, there may be the feeling of a bulge in the vagina or a feeling of heaviness, dragging or discomfort. Other signs may include sexual problems of pain or less sensation, recurring urinary tract infections, your bladder may not empty as it should or you may find it hard to empty your bowel.

These signs can be worse at the end of the day and, therefore, it may feel better after you lie down.

It is not an uncommon issue, and it won’t go away if you ignore it. However, help is available, so if you feel any of the above symptoms, please make an appointment with a Women’s Health Physiotherapist.

Your ignore me now, but you’ll need me later…
Regards, Your Pelvic Floor

4. Flatten your stomach!

Ok, well, if the last 3 reasons didn’t have you sold then this one must!

Let’s face it, most of us would like a flat stomach! For some of us this will be easier to achieve than others due to us all being different in body shape, lifestyle, priorities and so many other factors.

And, we must remember that the journey our body goes on to bless us with our little people, is extreme, with our abdominals going through some of the most dramatic changes over the 9 months we are pregnant. But, if we’re all honest with ourselves, a flat, toned looking stomach would be nice to add to an overall healthy, happy woman!

During pregnancy our uterus increases in size and weight to accommodate the growth of our child (or children), which needs to be supported by the abdominal muscles, which in turn lengthens the abdominal muscles wall and stretches the lower and deeper abdominal muscles.

The pelvic floor works in conjunction with the deep abdominal muscles to provide strength around the lower back and pelvis, as well as flattening of the stomach muscles, particularly in the lower abdomen area.

Therefore, pelvic floor muscles exercise strengthen your core muscles, and contribute to you achieving that “flat stomach”!

5. More satisfying sex life!

For some of us, the thought of intimacy and sex with our other half is something we can’t even think about in the early days. For others, we can’t wait to get back to having some fun! And, I don’t know about you, but sex should be enjoyable for both people, so, let’s make sure it is!

The pelvic floor is also important in sexual sensation. When the pelvic floor is functioning correctly and has good muscle tone, the outcome is increased sexual sensation and improved orgasms during sex.

6. Better quality of life with increased social confidence

Not having to worry about leakages or making embarrassing sounds at any anytime means that you can focus on the important things in life. It means you can be with the people you love, and not worry that laughing or sneezing is going to result in an awkward moment.

And, let’s face the added bonuses of having a strong, functioning body that you can depend on means that you can live life to the full and doing the things that you want and love to do, both now, and in the future.

So, what more reason do you need to ensure that you make time each week to do your pelvic floor exercises, and ensure that they are strong and functioning as they should, just like every other muscle in your body!

As mums, we spend so much time worrying about our little people at this time in our life, making sure that they get everything they need to be happy and healthy, that we forget just how important it is to look after ourselves.

One day our little people will grow into adults, and go out into the world. However, our bodies will be with us forever, so we need to care for it just as much as we care for our children.

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Jody is a pregnancy and post-natal specialist, with tertiary qualifications in exercise science and registered as a Level 3 Exercise Professional with Fitness Australia.
Jody is also a mum of two small children, and therefore understands the demands and challenges of being a mum.
Jody is passionate about educating, energising and empowering pregnant and post-natal women through the provision of safe but effective exercise programs and fitness sessions.
Contact me today to see how I can help you with your fitness and health!
Disclaimer: This article is advice only. All individuals should discuss the suitability of their exercise program with their doctor, exercise professional, physiotherapist or midwife.
For further advice about your individual fitness needs, speak to a pregnancy and post-natal exercise professional, midwife, doctor or women’s health physiotherapist.