Running after Birth: How to Safely Run with Baby

Running with baby can be a great way to get your endurance exercise on without having to carve out time away from baby.

However, there are many factors that need to be considered when running with baby to make sure you are supporting your body as it continues to heal from birth.

Factor 1

You have been cleared by your OB/Midwife to exercise. Even if you ran prior to and during pregnancy you'll want to discuss returning to exercise with your birth practitioner.

Your body just went through tremendous change, quickly. Whether you had a natural vaginal delivery, a csection, episiotomy, tearing, or other trauma your body has to heal.

Much of your tissue healing will occur in the first 6-8 weeks after delivery. But this doesn't mean you're fully healed. But it does give your birth practitioner an idea of how well your body is healing and when you may be ready to return to more rigorous exercise.

Factor 2

Be screened for a diastasis recti. Most women have some form of abdominal separation during pregnancy, which should heal on it's own over the next year after birth.

For those with a diagnosed diastasis recti, it takes more support to regain full functioning of the abdominal wall.

Running takes a lot of core activation to support your joints and pelvic organs. If your abdominal wall is not up to coordinating with the rest of your deep core to withstand the forces placed on the body, it can cause imbalance in the intra-abdominal pressure. This can lead to incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, low back or pelvic pain, or a hernia.

Factor 3

Make sure you can do a proper pelvic floor contraction.

If you have never had a pelvic floor assessment, testing what your pelvic floor awareness and control is, this is a must after birth.

It gives you a chance to deepen your understanding and awareness of the pelvic floor. Find out how pregnancy and birth affected your pelvic floor, even if you had a csection.

Your pelvic floor has to do A LOT of heavy lifting when running.

Every time your foot hits the pavement the pelvic floor contracts to protect your organs, joints and prevent any unwanted pee or poo escaping.

If you don't know how to voluntarily contract the pelvic floor, your body won't know how to do it on demand.

Leaving yourself at risk for causing [more] damage to your pelvic floor leading to incontinence and prolapse.

Factor 4

Timing your run to avoid breast issues.

When you breastfeed running can be a challenge for many reasons.

One, your breasts need more support.

Two, baby may want to eat in the middle of a run.

When breastfeeding your breast tissue is more susceptible to damage. The force placed on the breast tissue when running is tremendous and unfortunately you can't just contract your pectoral muscles to keep your breasts stable.

Side note: yes, having strong pecs will help with breast support, but typically these muscles are tight in postpartum, so don't over do the chest presses.

The best way to support your breasts is to double up your sports bar. You want to make sure there is no to very little movement of your breast tissue as you run. But also not be too squeezed that you are cutting off blood supply. This will reduce the shearing that can occur on the ligaments and milk ducts, as well as reduce friction on the nipples, while keeping proper nourishment to the tissues.

The second thing you'll want to do is time your run to just after a feeding. This reduces the size of your breasts prior to running, so less needs to be supported, but also making sure you don't get engorged while running. Avoiding the risk of blocked milk ducts and blips.

Factor 5

Start off slow [even if you ran before and during your pregnancy] and always warm up.

Warm up with some dynamic stretches like knee lifts, leg swings and arm circles.

Then begin with intervals. Walk 5 minutes to get your blood flowing then run for 1 minute. Really focus on proper form during that 1 minute versus going as fast as possible. Gage what feels right in your body [which will be different for everyone], my stride will be different than yours which will change my pace. Going too slow will also be awkward. 

Doing intervals will give you time to really tune into your body as you build your endurance and stability for longer run periods.

Then to avoid tight, achy muscles afterward. Cool down with some static stretches or rolling out your fascia.

Factor 6

Lastly, don't be a robot.

Allow your trunk to twist when you run. Just a little rotation through your spine and pelvis is necessary to run in proper form. It gets your abs and hips really working and improves your overall spine mobility.

This can be challenging when you are holding onto a stroller, so you can do one of two things [unless you figure out another safe way!].

One, hold the stroller with one hand allowing yourself the freedom of movement through the other arm. This is helpful if you have less than optimal shoulder mobility, which is common in postpartum from breastfeeding and carrying baby. There are two caveats to using one arm...you want to switch it up and it's harder to control.

You will want to change which arm holds the stroller, so you aren't always using one arm. This will ensure you are building up strength in both arms and allowing both sides of your body to be mobile.

Plus, using one arm may be harder to control the stroller, especially if you are on uneven pavement or surface.

Two, improve your shoulder mobility, so you can twist with anchored arms. Doing exercises that increase your shoulder/rib disassociation is ideal in postpartum, not only for running but for other tasks through out the day. One of my favorites is a kneading action (bending the elbows) through the arms while on all fours.

There you have it!

The major factors you should be considering before running with your baby [or running in general]!

If you've checked all these factors and feel ready to run...have fun!

If you don't know where to begin, comment below or send me a message, we'll figure it out together!

Benefits of Mindful Movement while Caring For Baby

You've had a baby, your body is recovering and sore, you're sleep deprived, you're trying to figure out feeding...

So what now?

The best way to take care of your baby is to take care of yourself.

What do I mean by this?

After birth we are recovering from hormone changes, weakened muscles, possible birth injury, cesarean restrictions and much more. Your recovery is highly influenced by many factors, such as daily habits, posture and movement patterns during regular activity.

While you are healing you're asking your body to work in a weakened state, which can cause altered posture, body mechanics and movement patterns. These alterations can cause soreness, pain, and long term changes to the soft tissue and joints, especially in your pelvis and spine.

Being more mindful of how you are moving and holding yourself while healing from birth will aid in your recovery and help you take care of baby.

I've created a list for you to better understand the importance of being aware while taking care of baby.

BENEFITS OF GOOD BODY MECHANICS WITH BABY

  1. You can prevent undue muscle soreness
  2. You can prevent back (upper, mid and lower) and pelvic pain
  3. You sleep better
  4. Your muscles and soft tissue are less strained
  5. Your joints move in proper position and with more ease
  6. You put less pressure into the pelvis preventing pelvic floor dysfunction...like peeing your pants and prolapse!
  7. You provide better nutrition to your muscles, soft tissue and joints for healing
  8. You set yourself up for life long positive pelvic and spine health
  9. You allow your muscles to work when they are meant to and rest when they are meant to
  10. You are more mindful of your body
  11. You can safely get back to the activities you love
  12. You improve your nutritious movement (coined by Katy Bowen)
  13. You reduce your risk of post partum depression
  14. You reduce your risk of spine or pelvic injury
  15. YOU JUST FEEL BETTER!!!

So there you have it, a list of benefits to paying attention to your posture and how you move your body while taking care of baby. I'm sure there are so many more benefits, so if you think of more let me know!!!

It is so important to start early to establish good movement habits rather than needing to change bad ones that are already causing pain and dysfunction.

Check out this video for a quick tip on lifting baby!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwsFaVPH8w8

 

All of us can use a little help, so reach out, as for it. After birth it's hard for many of us to feel what our bodies are doing, our body awareness is reduced, our body may not be responding the way we anticipate or we're just too tired. So having another person who is trained in postnatal body mechanics watch your movement patterns and posture can be a game changer!

 

 

 

 

Embrace Your Inner Animal

Yesterday, as my daughter and I were eating our afternoon snack a heron emerged from the tall grass in our front meadow also eating snack.

My daughter saw the heron (she is turning into a little birder, courtesy of her Papa!) and asked if I would take pictures. This tells you how many times we’ve had wildlife on our property and I grab my camera to takes photos…. inside scoop I am a nature photographer nerd.

So of course I had to grab my camera and head outside to take some pics.

When I was following the heron around trying not to spook it, I couldn’t help but watch it’s movements.

FYI, I am also a movement junky. As many of you know I love helping moms out of movement patterns that may be causing pain or discomfort into more efficient and beneficial movement patterns that work with your body and not against it.

So when watching other species move is really intriguing.

The way the heron can go from slowly strolling along into full flight in a matter of seconds was a sight to see and it made be reflect on how our bodies need to adjust and alter course in split seconds.

The difference between animals and humans is animals lean more into the autonomic or instinctual aspect of the nervous system, where humans tend to over ride our autonomic or instinctual portion of the nervous system.

Our habits, external forces, stress, accidents and injuries and so many other contributing factors play a role in our loss of the automatic.

Now, some of you may be thinking, but I know how to “automatically” breath or drive or whatever without thinking about it.

To which I say, yes habits or functions that keep us alive, like breathing, are automatic for those without neurological damage.

We can go through our day barely thinking about the movements or actions we are taking because we’ve done them so much. Just like an animal stocking prey or taking flight.

However the difference is allow these contributing factors play a larger role in how our bodies function than animals do.

For example, when an animal has a life threatening or stressful situation, it’s instinct kicks in to either freeze, fight or run. But almost immediately after that threat is removed, the animal with rebound and “let go” of the physical reactions that occurred in the body….like the increase in adrenoline or endorphins. You can see them shaking out the stress.

I believe this may also be part of the shaking that occurs after birth. Mom’s body has gone through a trauma, regardless of how “natural” birth is and our instinct kicks in to let go of the stress on our body.

I remember shaking uncontrollably after giving birth, without feeling cold. But I also remember feeling more relaxed after shaking, both mentally and physically.

So what can we learn from the animal world to propel our movement ability?

Embrace your instinct….

Allow your body to let go…..

Work with your body….

Use the most efficient modes of movement….

Understand that habits don’t need to define your movement….

When I’m working with new moms who may have lost their ability to control the pelvic floor, a muscle group that is meant to automatically work for us so we don’t pee or poop when we’re not suppose to, we really focus on recreating that connection.

That innate ability to have the body automatically know what it’s suppose to do without us having to consciously think about it. For some it has nothing to do with how strong the muscles are or how fit you are.

Sometimes it’s allowing the body to dig deeper into the mind-body connection to perform a task it knows instinctually how to do.