By Kayla Repas on April 24, 2021.
During my six-week postpartum appointment, I was given the green light to exercise. I felt great, strong and confident and I literally jumped into rec volleyball the same day, which I had been playing throughout pregnancy.
I may have more body awareness than someone without my education background, but I was naÃ¯ve to just how much my body did change through pregnancy, delivery and postpartum. That first night at volleyball was interesting to say the least – the first overhand serve (why I attempted is beyond me) landed two feet in front of me, the first jump felt like my organs were a pinball in a pinball game, and the first attempt to spike the ball felt like I had snapped my back in two and to top it off I am positive I peed my pants! I wanted some sort of normalcy in the vast array of changes my life and body had experienced. Well, peeing my pants was not the normal I was looking for, and so I began my research and certification courses in pregnancy and postpartum exercise.
Here are some helpful tips on getting back into exercise and sport postpartum safely:
1. Listen to your body – Really listen to your body. The aches and pains you are feeling are likely trying to tell you something. Correcting your posture and being aware of your posture when feeding/holding your baby can help ease some of these aches and pains. If something doesn’t feel right or you aren’t sure what your body is telling you, see Step 5!
2. Ensure proper hydration and nutrition whether you are breastfeeding or not. Your body needs proper nutrition to heal and recover. Whole foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats) and ensure you are getting enough water! Healthy eating when pregnant and breastfeeding – Canada’s Food Guide
3. Start Slow – Ease back into exercise with care. Your labor and healing journey is unique to you. Allow your body the recovery it needs and know this will take time. Patience is key and know you will get there!
4. Choose low-impact activity – Volleyball is not low impact! Jumping and running are not low impact! Low impact are activities such as walking, swimming, yoga and cycling. Your body is still flooded with hormones that relax joints. This puts you at a greater risk for injury. Use caution when stretching, as well as walking on uneven surfaces -such as those pesky gopher holes!
5. Consult with a health-care professional, physiotherapist or corrective exercise specialist that specializes in postpartum care – this step is often skipped for many reasons. These professionals are trained to notice muscle imbalances, correct movement patterns, as well as give recommendations to address diastasis recti and incontinence.
Continue to advocate for your health – and stop accepting urine incontinence as a normal part of postpartum!
Feel free to reach out if you are a professional that specializes in pregnancy and postpartum health, as I would love to create a resource list for local pregnant and postpartum women. If you are a mother needing some help finding resources/support, my email is email@example.com.
Kayla Repas CSEP – CPT, Exs Sci Dip and Females in Action Moving and Empowering (FAME) committee member