Talking about postpartum incontinence, Fun Right?!
As this new year begins, instead of focusing on specific workouts, I want to focus on a topic that is very real and embarrassing to many moms. As you can guess running should not make you “pee” your pants. Postpartum Incontinence or the uncontrollable loss of urine occurs in a reported 50% of all women. Within this percentage many are new mothers or pregnant women. This number is most likely higher but it’s an embarrassing condition to talk about so many choose to live in silence. The good news is there are great exercises that focus on the muscles of the pelvic floor which will help remedy this situation and keep women from having to change pants after sneezing, laughing, coughing (or running).
I choose to write about incontinence today as I am training for my traditional running in the Annual Redondo Beach 10K on Super Bowl Sunday with my family. It will be my 15th running since the birth of my 1st child. Many moms I work with are terrified of running post baby, not just worried they cannot achieve the miles but that they will end up with a big wet mark between their legs while running amongst hundreds of other people. This is a normal reaction but a PREVENTABLE issue. Yes I said PREVENTABLE in all caps!!! How, you ask? Please read on to see my top exercises to prevent incontinence. These exercises can be performed carefully as early as 6-8 weeks after delivery. I again would try the easier lying exercises first and work up to the more intense. Ideally 2 sets of each exercise is the goal but you may start slowly with less repetitions and one set of each. Listen to your body!
I want to preface that “impact “ exercises like running are not recommended the first few months postpartum and potentially longer if the mother is nursing. The new nursing mother is still producing the hormone “Relaxin” for many months after giving birth and this hormone affects range of motion women experience with their joints. It is easier to “hyperextend joints” post pregnancy when this hormone is present. Also jumping and running puts a lot of pressure on the muscles of the pelvic floor that makes the tissue weaker and more susceptible to leaky bladders. So before jumping into a program that includes any kind of running or jumping, I recommend starting first with exercises that will strengthen the pelvic floor and core muscles. I incorporate pelvic floor strengthening exercises in all Coremom classes.
Here are some non-traditional exercises that will help get you “impact ready” and keep your pants dry!
Squats with side bends, (repeat 20 times)
Side lunge with low reach repeat 10 on each leg
Walk out planks w/runners lunge twist repeat 10 times
Plank with jumping Jacks repeat 15 times
One legged bridging repeat on each leg 10 times
**Whole sequence #1-5 again
I love helping moms to get back to the activities they did prior to pregnancy or introduce them to more challenging types of exercise after their baby is born. I did not complete my first 10K until after my first child was born over 15 years ago and I waited until she was 6 months and I felt strong enough to run the distance. With just a little help we can get you feeling healthy, happy and running to the finish line.
If you have any questions about these exercises or any other mommy questions, please reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy dry running and I’ll see you at Seaside Lagoon after the race.