MY POSTPARTUM WORKOUT GUIDE!!

It feels like a dream to be able to finally share my POSTPARTUM WORKOUT GUIDE!!!!

Wohoooo!!

I began working on it in the summer, so it has been in the works for awhile, and is something I am so passionate about, and so excited to share! Below is some more information about the guide, and one of the workouts so you know what the layout looks like, and what to expect!

WHAT EQUIPMENT DOES IT REQUIRE?

The only equipment it requires is a set of dumbbells, and a stability ball. I highly recommend having both of these in general if you workout from home. They are the same pieces of equipment I use in my Pregnancy Workout Guide, Pregnancy & Postpartum Workout Subscription, and ‘Regular’ Workout Subscription.

HOW LONG DOES EACH WORKOUT TAKE?

The workouts are designed for you to do them from home (although you can also do them at the gym if you’d like), and each take about 30 minutes to complete!

WHAT DOES IT ENTAIL?

There are 95 different exercises in this guide, and each has an image showing you exactly how to do it. The workouts are broken down into 3 different phases:

  • PHASE ONE: These are pelvic floor recovery exercises. You can start as soon as you feel up to it after delivery. These are VERY basic moves that target the deep core muscles and help your body recover. These are not full workouts, and should in no way make you sweat. They are designed to begin strengthening up those muscles that take a major hit during pregnancy and delivery.

  • PHASE TWO: These workouts are designed for mothers after they have been cleared to exercise by their doctors. They are designed to strengthen the pelvic floor, create strong connective tissue in the abdominals, help restore the core and prevent incontinence. You should remain in this stage until you no longer experience leaking, have abdominal separation, and other pelvic floor issues.

  • PHASE THREE: These workouts are designed for postpartum mothers who no longer experience leaking while exercising, have abdominal separation less than 1.5 fingers widths apart, whose stomach does not cone while exercising, who do not feel any type of discomfort in the pelvic region while exercising, and who do not have any other physical issues from delivery. They are designed to bridge the gap between “postpartum” workouts and “regular” workouts. They still incorporate pelvic floor exercises, but begin incorporating some higher impact exercises as well.

Aside from the workouts, the guide incorporates information on how to tailor it to YOUR body, and how to choose the right weight for you. It also includes educational information, and what to aware of postpartum - such as abdominal separation, coning, incontinence, diastasis recti, and posture. It includes steps to ensure you are properly connecting the deep core muscles while you exercise, which is crucial during this time. Lastly, it includes information on what to focus on during each phase, how to know when to move onto the next phase, and how I recommend breaking up the workouts each week.

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?

All of the written information is at the beginning on the guide. I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE you to read through the entire guide before getting started. The information in there is important, and you should be aware of all of it before beginning.

After the educational information are the 3 phases broken down. Each phase contains pages with all of the workouts simply written out. Following that, are the workouts broken down with images to show you exactly how to do each exercise in each particular workout.

Postpartum Guide || goodfortheswole.com

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE POSTPARTUM GUIDE AND THE SUBSCRIPTION?

I, obviously, think both are great options - it just depends on what you’re looking for! As I mentioned, the postpartum guide is broken down into 3 different phases. This is a guide specifically focused on strengthening the body from the inside out. The Postpartum Workout Subscription contains workouts that are all “Phase Two” type of workouts. They are designed only for when you have been cleared to exercise by your doctor, and are for women who struggle with incontinence, abdominal separation, coning while exercising, and need lower impact workouts. You get 5 workouts sent every week with the subscription, so if you feel like you’ll be in Phase Two for awhile, or are not interested in Phase One or Phase Three style of workouts, than I would suggest the Postpartum Workout Subscription instead!

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

As of now, the Postpartum Workout Guide is priced at $40. I am hosting a giveaway pre-launch on February 20th on my Instagram, that will run until February 21st at 10:00pm MST. I am sending TEN people this guide for free. Go enter on my page!!

I AM “X” MONTHS/YEARS POSTPARTUM. CAN I STILL DO IT?

It does not matter how long ago you had a baby. The deep core muscles can always be strengthened, just like any other muscle in your body! Once you are postpartum, you are ALWAYS postpartum, and this is a good way to work from the ground up and properly strengthen the right muscles!

WHAT IF I HAVE PROLAPSE OR A HERNIA?

This guide is obviously not individually tailored. I always recommend seeking the guidance of a pelvic floor physical therapist for very specific issues, such as prolapse and hernias. You should ALWAYS run everything by your doctor first, but in general, Phase One and Phase Two workouts might be good option.

How To Activate The Deep Core & Pelvic Floor

Happy Monday!! I have been wanting to post about this topic for a while because it is a HUGE part of exercising during pregnancy and postpartum, if not THE most important part. Activating and connecting the deep core and pelvic floor muscles is essential, because if you don’t know how to activate those muscles, how do you plan on strengthening them? It seems like a stupid question when phrased like that, but it’s so easy to just go through exercises without properly thinking about what you’re doing. I know I've done that before!

I often get asked, “should I feel a burn while doing pelvic floor exercises”, and “it doesn’t feel like it’s doing anything, am I doing it right?”, and “should I breathe a certain way while doing these exercises?”. The answers are 1) no, you should not feel a burn, but you should feel a connection. 2) You may not be doing it correctly. You won’t get breathless or feel muscle fatigue, but again, you should feel a connection, and 3) YES! You should absolutely breath a certain way! The information below should answer these questions a little further, and hopefully help you effectively work the pelvic floor and reap the many benefits that it brings!

***I plan on posting a video to demonstrate this, but HERE is an amazing video of a 39 week pregnant woman properly activating her deep core.

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WHAT IS THE DEEP CORE:

All of the deep core muscles function together, and everything is connected. EVERYTHING! The main muscles to know are:

Pelvic Floor: This is a hammock of muscles that connect the pubis bone at the front to the tailbone. The pelvic floor supports the bladder, reproductive organs, and bowel and forms a figure 8 around the urethra, vagina and rectum. They also work with the multifidus and transversus abdominis to stabilize the spine, pelvic joints, bladder and uterus properly.

Transversus abdominis (TVA): This is the deepest of the abdominal muscles and wraps around the abdomen between the lower ribs and top of the pelvis. It acts as a corset that holds everything together.

Internal Obliques: This muscle is a little closer to the skin than the transverses abdominis, and supports the abdominal wall.

Multifidus: This muscle is located around the back of the spine, and functions together with the transversus abdominis & pelvic floor muscles to stabilize the low back and pelvis.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT:

Strengthening the deep core muscles through movement and exercise improves overall strength, energy, decreases low back pain, hip pain, neck pain, and incontinence, minimizes diastasis recti and prolapse, and sets her up for potentially easier, and quicker labour and recovery– all while decreasing the chances of an emergency c-section.

Most women struggle with at least one of these issues, if not many of them, and properly activating and strengthening these muscles during and after pregnancy can help minimize, and sometimes even prevent these problem. That’s huge!!

STEPS TO CONNECTING DEEP CORE MUSCLES:

1. Relax the deep core muscles on the inhale. You should feel a heaviness, and a pressing down sensation. If it helps, it’s the same type of relaxation you make while urinating. If you are unsure what it should feel like, trying sitting on a stability ball. You can actually feel the relaxing of the deep core and pelvic floor muscles this way!

2. Exhale to initiate light contraction of the pelvic floor muscles. This is a LIGHT contraction. You don’t want to grip the muscles, or strain in any way. Particularly make sure you aren’t contracting the glutes. Imagine you are lifting the muscles all the way to the top of your head, and really focus on lengthening. **Tips on how to lightly contract are below!

3. Once you have contracted the pelvic floor muscles, move into the exercise. This is why each exercise should always be done slowly and intentionally. Breath out and relax the muscles - then inhale, connect the deep core and pelvic floor muscles, and do another rep.

4. You want to breath diaphragmatically breathe throughout each exercise by inhaling out to the sides and back of her ribcage, and then exhaling as you lightly contract the pelvic floor. Feel the lengthening as stated above while also adding a light wrapping “down and around” of her lower ribcage. **I will do a separate post about this later.

TIPS FOR ACTIVATING DEEP CORE & PELVIC FLOOR:

This sounds incredibly confusing at first, and honestly feels very foreign. It can also be mentally draining too because it’s a lot to think about while also trying to exercise. I get it! The best thing to do is practice this before exercising. Take a few minutes to work on feeling these muscles and activating them. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at sensing them, and the easier it will become. Practice, practice, practice!

The most difficult part is figuring out how to lightly contract those muscles, especially if you’ve just learned you even have a pelvic floor!

  1. When making that light contraction, think about lifting up a wet towel from the corners. You want to pull the muscles together, and then up. Imagine you are lightly zipping up the pelvic floor, and really think about lifting up the way to the top of the head. That lengthening is key!

  2. Avoiding sucking the belly to spine. This is a VERY common tip I see on Instagram, but it restricts deep core activation and proper breathing. It also puts force on the pelvic floor and hinders posture.

  3. Lengthen tall through the torso and top of the head to positively affect posture and deep core strength. This also stimulates connective tissue which wraps around all of the muscles, and is what brings the abdominals back together.

Pelvic Floor Workout

Happy Monday!! I post a lot of pelvic floor workouts on my Instagram, but I wanted to post a little workout, along with some images, on my blog today!

These exercises help build new connective tissue, which is crucial for a strong pelvic floor and deep core. They rebuild the connective tissue between the abdominals, and bring them back together (or minimize the separation during pregnant). They are SUPER important if you have diastasic recti. They also reduce lower back pain, hip pain, and neck pain during and after pregnancy. They minimize incontinence which is the most common postpartum issue. They help the body recover better after delivery, and actually help you during delivery! Needless to say, pelvic floor work is very, very important and very beneficial!

***please excuse my very serious face in these pictures haha. They were taken for a project and the images are much, much smaller haha *face palm*.

PELVIC FLOOR WORKOUT - repeat 3-4x

  1. Glute bridge marching x 24-30

  2. Reverse plank heel slides x 16-20

  3. Zippers x 24-30

  4. Stability ball wall squats x 10-12

  5. Stability ball hips thrust x 10-15

GLUTE BRIDGE MARCHING

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REVERSE PLANK HEEL SLIDES

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ZIPPERS

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STABILITY BALL WALL SQUATS

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STABILITY BALL HIP THRUSTS

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One Week Postpartum

I was going to try and get a post up every Monday, Wednesday, Friday still, but it's Thursday and I'm just writing my first post for the week.

EL. OH. EL.

I wouldn't say I'm "busier" than before, but I simply don't want to rush around getting stuff done. All I want to do is hang out with Piper, and soak up every second of Jack's newborn stage. That's the most important thing right now, and I am in absolute heaven over here. 

Piper is down for her nap though, and Jack is snoozing on my chest (letting out the cutest snores), so before I hop into a much needed shower, I wanted to recap on this first week of my postpartum recovery!

1-5 days postpartum

1-5 days postpartum

I feel like I have to state that this is MY postpartum recovery. There is no set "normal" recovery that every woman follows. We are all different people. We all went into pregnancy in different physical shapes, with different genetics, had different activity levels during pregnancy, different approaches to eating, different babies, different hardships during pregnancy, and different deliveries. There are a lot of factors that go into it! I had NO idea what to expect after having Piper, and it was honestly all quite surprising going through it the first time. I hope by sharing MY experience, it's not used as a template or a comparison for postpartum recovery, but rather helps prepare you for going through your OWN recovery. Hopefully it isn't as shocking for you as it was for me at first haha. 

**Sorry if this gets TMI. It's hard to talk about postpartum recovery without getting specific though ha. 

RECOVERY

As I mentioned in Jack's Birth Story, my doctor had to do a very fast episiotomy at the end of labour to quickly get him out. She did an awesome job with stitching me back up, but it was a second degree tear, meaning the tear went deeper into the muscle beneath. I felt SUPER sore, and was super swollen (from the pushing as well), for about 4 days after delivery, and standing up/sitting down didn't feel great haha. There was/is obviously a lot of bleeding too, especially because of the blood thinner shots I have to take. 

Every day I have felt a little better and better, and it's honestly AMAZING to me to think of how the body can recover after birthing a baby. It knows what to do and how to do it. It's so incredible and gives me an even greater respect for my body. I feel SO much better today (9 days postpartum) than I did this time last week. There's obviously still bleeding and discomfort, and it's uncomfortable to walk around for long periods of time, but all things considered, I feel really good!

Full term to 9 days postpartum

Full term to 9 days postpartum

BREASTFEEDING

Breastfeeding has been A MILLION times easier this second time around. With Piper, I had to have pillows set up in specific positions so I could nurse her in one specific way haha. It took me a few months to get completely comfortable with nursing, and I got anxiety the closer it got to each feeding time because it really stressed me out! It was also SUPER painful with her for the first 10 seconds of latching. I don't know if it's because she wasn't latching totally right, or what, but it was hard! Jack has been a master eater from the get-go...literally latched himself a couple of minutes after being born haha. He eats in half the time Piper did, and eats a LOT. It's been much less stressful, WAY less painful, and so much easier. I don't know if it's because it's my second time around and I know what I'm doing, or if it's because he's just a good eater. 

PHYSICAL

How much weight did I gain during pregnancy? Don't care. Am I back to my pre-pregnancy weight? Don't care. As for how I physically look, I'm embracing it and loving it this time around! Of course, I've looked/felt better, but I'm fully embracing this stage and appreciating my body for what it just did for me. With Piper, I didn't know what to expect, and I was honestly surprised when I still looked 6 months pregnant after she came out. I guess you're just used to looking a certain way when there isn't a baby in your stomach, so it's weird when the baby comes out and you're left with a totally foreign body. Now, my skin is obviously still soft and stretchy around my stomach (something you can't really see in a snapshot picture). For the first few days after having him, my whole stomach would jiggle around with each movement and laughter. I got used to this rock hard stomach from having a baby in there, along with the braxton hicks contractions I was having 99% of the day, so it was a weird transition. There's no other word to describe it other than "weird".  My uterus, although not as swollen as it was after he was born, is still shrinking. I still feel contractions from it shrinking, especially when I'm nursing, which apparently you feel more and more of the more kids you have (I don't remember feeling any with Piper). 

I had a little gap between my abdominals (less than 1 finger-width), which is totally normal (you don't want it to be 2 finger-widths apart or more), and it has already pulled back together which is great! Honestly, while my pelvic floor feels MUCH weaker after going through this labour, I can see and feel the benefits of all the exercises I did during pregnancy, along with making an effort to nourish my body well. I don't mean this in an arrogant way AT ALL, but I am so proud of myself because having a healthy pregnancy IS NOT EASY. It's hard! It requires a lot of effort and a lot of motivation. But it's SO worth it! It was worth staying away from certain exercises I knew weren't appropriate during pregnancy, because it protected my core and helped it recover postpartum. It was worth it to keep up with beneficial exercises because it kept my body strong FOR labour and, again helped it recover postpartum.  **You can get my pregnancy workout guide HERE. It was worth making an effort to mostly eat healthy food during pregnancy, because I don't feel like I suddenly have to start doing things different now I am postpartum. I just have to continue with what I was already doing!

9 days postpartum

9 days postpartum

WHAT I'M DOING NOW

I'm still working on fueling my body properly because it makes me feel good, and I know it's good for the milkies. I'm not counting calories, macros, or anything like that. I'm just trying to eat lots of REAL food (seriously, lots of it because I'm STARVING), while making room for my favourite treats still. I am not exercising right now (I have gone on a couple of tiny walk around the block, but that's it because it doesn't feel the best ha). I don't plan on exercising I am cleared at my 6 week postpartum checkup. I think it's very important to fully let me body recover externally and internally first. I will start some pelvic floor recovery movements soon, which is more like basic breathing techniques to help my body recover, but that is it. No belly band, no "get your body back quick" program...just showing my body lots of love and care right now through rest, recovery, and quality food!

I sure look and feel different from MY "old" normal, but I feel so confident in my body, and I am fully embracing this new normal of mine.