One of the first things many new moms look forward to after having a baby is getting back into their pre-pregnancy clothes. Moms may feel pressure to lose the baby weight the minute a baby is born, often discounting the amount of change and stress their body has been through over the preceding nine months.
Anna Grant, physical therapist and instructor of the Restore Your Core: Baby and Me Pilates class at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns, advises new moms to be gentle with their recovery, beginning slowly and with appropriate exercises.
“Just because moms have been cleared by their OBGYN to return to exercise, doesn’t mean they should immediately resume their pre-pregnancy fitness routine. It is so important to address the muscle imbalances and adaptations that occurred during pregnancy, regain pelvic floor control and restore abdominal stability first,” says Grant.
She explains that even if new moms don’t have noticeable post-pregnancy symptoms — such as back pain, pelvic pressure and pain, or incontinence — immediately after giving birth, they may be predisposing themselves to these issues later in life by doing too much too fast.
Postpartum exercise programs like the Restore Your Core class are a great way for new moms to get back into shape while also treating and even preventing some of these common postpartum symptoms. Trained instructors can help ensure that exercises are performed with proper techniques to maximize progress. They can also provide modifications when certain exercises don’t work for every mom.
In addition to the physical benefits of postpartum exercise classes, many new moms enjoy the opportunity to bring their babies with them to class and often find emotional support in connecting with other women in the same stage of life.
“It’s a friendly, encouraging and positive environment to meet other moms who share the same goal of taking care of their own bodies so they can better care for their babies,” says Grant. “They look forward to socializing with other moms and babies, and it becomes a support system where mamas empower mamas.”
Grant also notes that the class is a great bonding experience for mom and baby. Many exercises are performed while mom holds her baby, and moms are welcome to feed, change and walk with their babies at any time during class.
“I always remind moms that even if they only get to exercise for half of the class, it’s still beneficial to get out of the house to focus on their own well-being.”
As an added bonus, Grant reports that the babies seem to nap really well after class from all the healthy stimulation and hard work, so their moms can enjoy some much-needed rest of their own.
Learn more or sign up for Sharp’s Baby and Me Pilates classes at the Sharp Allison deRose Rehabilitation Center and the Sharp Memorial Outpatient Pavilion.