New Mothers and functional Fitness

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It is no secret that pregnancy and motherhood places a great strain on the body, it is a time when ligaments are unstable and the spine is more vulnerable to injury; new Mothers have enough on their plate without having to think about the mechanics of the body. The irony is that when a woman has to take on possibly her most challenging physical role she is at her weakest and most out of alignment (postural wise) and after childbirth what consideration is taken for the changes that have taken place during pregnancy and labour. When research notes are read from doctors and other specialist’s postnatal women with bad backs and shoulders always come high on the lists. This creates an area of concern as to whether there is enough emphasis put on postnatal advice re lifting and handling techniques given to new Mothers.

For example: (these are only a few from a long list)

Feeding and nursing: On average, in the first few months, babies feed every 1 – 3 hours and some of the biggest postural strains come from poor feeding positions. New Mothers are often seen slumped in a low chair or in bed feeding the new baby, Mother with rounded shoulders and unevenly positioned shoulder blades. The recommended choice should be to find a good chair (which can be moved around the home) with good back support and using a foot rest (which increase blood flow) and whatever the situation beware of good posture.

Holding the Baby: It is not uncommon for Mothers (and lets not forget the dads as well) to hold the baby on the same side of the body, this causes muscular imbalance and if the hip is jutted out as well to support the baby this only increases, a situation what is called, asymmetrical posture. Muscles, ligaments and vertebral discs will all be strained. Because baby needs regular cuddling Mothers in particular will repeatedly pick the little one up, it is now
becoming more apparent that because you have to crook the wrists around the baby to give the support needed and because of the repeated action some new Mothers are now experiencing carpel tunnel syndrome. This is caused by an edema (swelling) build up around one of the nerves in the wrist area that creates the pain.

Further to this is the strain on the body when lifting the baby from the floor, from its cot, in and out of car seats and the way a Mother holds herself when pushing a buggy/pram. All have serious implications on posture imbalance. Great care should be taken, therefore, with all of these activities and good lifting and handling techniques should be adopted.

It is becoming only to clear now that exercising both during and after pregnancy is a valuable investment especially learning how to lift hold and support a load (baby). However exercising for pregnant Mothers is very specific and the emphasis should placed on functional fitness and not general fitness as you should be training
controlled movement and not muscle building. If great care is not taken during and after pregnancy then the changes to the body and the imbalances caused in the posture will last a long time after childbirth.

Now for the active part – visit local areas:

· For a start it is always good to keep a good pair of walking shoes/trainers in the car.
· When you have decided on a location to visit try to park up a little way out of the location.
· Look at these and plan a route where you can walk a circuit and end up back at the car.
· Plan it so if you are going to eat, try and make it half way round your circuit.
· If you are walking hard try to avoid a heavy meal and certainly alcohol.
· Take a bottle of water and drink regularly
· Have a first aid kit with blister repair creams or spays included in it.

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