When mom and baby are healthy, there should be no reason not to train for birth. In my opinion, and what I founded BIRTHFIT on, is that training includes, but is not limited to, strength, conditioning, flexibility, and balance. These skills can easily translate into other ordinary life tasks. When a woman feels better, she is empowered, and without a doubt, will favor the person she looks at in the mirror more and more.
When a woman has a BUMP people are quick to judge what is and looks appropriate, their opinion along with their negative or positive story, and the trolls of the inter webs quickly come out to give their two cents. Today, with social media at our fingertips, these opinions of others are often imparted on mothers whether the woman wanted to hear their so-called advice or not.
Since BIRTHFIT was founded, I’ve heard opinions about prenatal and postpartum exercise all damn day for over half of a decade. I hear anything and everything from civilians, cashiers at Whole Foods or department stores, Doulas, midwives, ObGyns, other chiropractors, personal trainers, CrossFit coaches, wellness coaches, nurses, lawyers, accountants, assistants, pilates instructors, and the list goes on.
MISCONCEPTIONS… What I can say is majority of the opinions people choose to share with me are FALSE, UNTRUE, MISCONCEPTIONS, NEVER BEEN TESTED, THEIR OWN OPINION, GENERALIZATIONS (usually based on their single experience).
This means, if I had the opportunity and time, I could and would debunk most of what people try to put in my ear. However, my time here on earth is short, and my goal is to keep charging forward. So, today as I sit on a train from France to Spain, I will discuss a few issues I hear regularly, plus my two cents as to why I think they are bullshit. Take it or leave it. Again, it’s my experience as a doctor of chiropractic, birth doula, and strength and conditioning coach for a better part of a decade.
-Exercise during pregnancy leads to diastasis recti.
False. I’ve been treating prenatal and postpartum women for well over 5 years. I interact with prenatal and postpartum women daily. In Venice, CA, Emily and I work together to offer one-on-one prenatal & postpartum fitness coaching; The BIRTHFIT Prenatal & Postpartum Series; and, I provide chiropractic care to women (prenatal and postpartum) at a local birth center. For the women that have exercised consistently & intentionally prior to pregnancy and during pregnancy, received regular chiropractic care throughout their pregnancy and postpartum period (once a week until 12 weeks postpartum), and received an immediate (first seven to ten days postpartum) Dr. Lindsey chiropractic care session after birth (vaginal or cesarean), followed by full participation in The BIRTHFIT Postpartum Series, not one has had a permanent diastasis.
In fact, I’ve witnessed more diastasis recti in patients that have not participated in specific strength training, lead a sedentary lifestyle, or only participated in single, isolated exercise discipline (i.e. only running).
-Lifting weights during pregnancy is dangerous.
False. The most dangerous thing you can do throughout your pregnancy is to remain sedentary. Strength training has numerous benefits such as increasing bone density and decreasing fat deposits within the body. The women that train with us, and with our affiliates throughout the United States and now Spain, report that they feel better and have less aches and pains in their musculoskeletal system throughout their pregnancy. These women often have a healthier body image and recover faster.
–Pregnant moms should lift no more than 15lbs.
False. I’ve never understood this claim, even for those that are not pregnant (sorry Gwyneth and your Tracy Anderson method). Your handbag alone usually weighs equivalent to the average weight of a new baby. Put that baby in a car seat and throw a diaper bag over your shoulder and the total weight you are carrying is easily 30lbs. Aside from lack of core, the most common complaint or issue for new moms has to do with neck and shoulder issues (think rotator cuff). This is because they are carrying baby externally, and oftentimes awkwardly. And if they did not address posture immediate postpartum (or even during pregnancy) and disregarded shoulder strength and stability, then with this increase in demand on the cervical and thoracic spine and the joints of the shoulder, their bodies cannot keep up nor maintain healthy movement patterns.
–Running (bouncing) during pregnancy is dangerous.
FALSE. Babies like to move. Most of the devices new moms buy to quiet or comfort baby are machines that elicit movement such as bouncing. If running feels good, then do it. If double unders feel good, then party on. Same with box jumps, dancing, sprinting, and more. However, I think the real issue is that often times those that strictly run or those that strictly do dance have very little strength training in their weekly training. With a lack of strength training and a growing bump, it is harder and harder for your body to support dynamic activities. Two days of strength training a week is all I ask of you.☺
–Pregnant moms should not squat below parallel.
FALSE. FALSE. FALSE. I still get this question from any and everyone. This statement had to be constructed by an obese male that has never had to do anything for himself, not even pick up an object off the floor or shit in a hole in the ground. One of the biggest wake up calls I had was when I went to Tanzania and there were no porcelain gods to poop in. To be able to fully squat is a fundamental human movement. I guarantee that if you do not squat regularly (with and without weight involved) that you will have some dysfunctions within your body (knees, lumbar spine, ankles, pelvic floor, shoulders, etc.)
Back to our topic of pregnant women, squatting opens the birth canal by 20-30%. Squatting engages not only your posterior chain but also your core muscles and numerous other muscle groups. It involves full body strength and mobility. At the very least a pregnant woman should be able to sit comfortably in the bottom of squat for ten minutes. The next step up would be to be able to perform a back squat with complete control, no butt-wink or bottoming out.
(*Now, there are a few issues in which a doctor or midwife will have women hold on off squatting until closer to due date. These issues are often times known ahead of time.)
There are plenty of misconceptions about training during pregnancy. The bottom line is this: you have a HUGE athletic event coming up. I don’t care how mentally prepared you are for birth, or how strong your doula is, when shit hits the fan, you need your body to be able to work for you. Your body needs to know how to respond to a rapidly changing environment. You need to be able to count on your body for an unidentifiable time period. These things don’t just happen overnight. You need to train for them. Start today.