Abigail Condon of The Mom Mindset Podcast interviews Dr. Jena Bradley on her best tips for postpartum recovery. Get the inside scoop.
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I recently was interviewed for a podcast titled, Mom Mindset Podcast, a podcast all about encouragement for moms.
Abigail is a mom of 2 littles ones, and she is on a mission to help new moms enjoy motherhood and help you to understand that you are the best mom for your child.
Let’s dive right into what we talked about on her show.
1. Tell me a little about yourself? How did you get interested in helping women with their core strength postpartum?
I’m a physical therapist going on 13 years. I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh along with my husband. The amazing thing is both my husband and I had not planned on going to the University of Pittsburgh, but God had a better plan for both of us and at the last minute we both switched colleges, not knowing each other. We met on the first day of school, became study partners and the rest is history.
I always had a love for helping people, and fitness is my ultimate passion. Add the two together, and physical therapy was definitely the career path for me.
After having my first baby, I focused more on being a stay at home mom, but I always had the desire to continue my passion and work as a physical therapist, so I currently work part time.
I went on to having a total of 4 children, and after my fourth child people started to notice something different about me. I would get asked questions such as “How do you get your stomach to be flat after having 4 kids?”
They genuinely wanted to know because they were new moms and struggling with the postpartum pooch and wanted to know how to do it themselves.
I knew what to do, but I started to realize not a lot of moms knew what to do. So I started my blog to help new moms learn how to heal after pregnancy and strengthen their core postpartum. So began my blog, Live Core Strong.
2. With your knowledge, did you feel like you were equipped to know how to exercise postpartum, or is that something you had to troubleshoot?
I actually was quite lost after having my first baby. You would think being a physical therapist I would know exactly what to do and when to do it, but when becoming a new mom, all energy, all thoughts and focus is on your new baby.
So the funny thing is, when I had my first baby, I actually thought my stomach would shrink back to normal right after giving birth. It was a completely unrealistic expectation, but I didn’t know any better.
So as time went on, and couple weeks had past, I thought my stomach would shrink down to normal naturally. Again, a bit clueless.
I did a bit of digging and research and pulled out some favorite core exercises from my previous training, and I slowly began to get back into the swing of things with my core exercises.
But again, I was a bit afraid of overdoing it, injuring myself, afraid of possibly doing the wrong exercises. Eventually, I finally recovered and recovered to my normal self with a lot of trial and error.
3. Did you do anything differently after your later pregnancies vs. your first one in terms of preparation or recovery?
So with my later pregnancies, I started to fine-tune my exercise program. I found I needed to simplify it and focus on what was most important.
I had to avoid the exercises that were too strenuous because my energy levels were low, my time was limited and I had 4 kids running around. I had to focus on what was most important, and to me that was my core strength.
Without core strength, everything else falls apart. You need a sturdy rock to build upon.
4. What misconceptions do you think women have about recovery postpartum?
A lot of women think that it takes a lot of time in the day and energy to get your core stronger after pregnancy, but it really has to do with consistency and quality. Quality is key when it comes to exercise and recovery.
If you are doing the wrong exercises, like exercises on a random YouTube ab workout video, you are more likely to get burnt out, discouraged, have increased pain and never return again to that workout or any workout for that matter.
But if you start slow, take baby steps, doing the exercises that are most effective, you get quick results and feel confident again.
Some women also think that recovery is supposed to happen in the first 2-4 weeks, or even within the first 6 weeks because that’s when you see the doctor for the postpartum check-up. But I like to say postpartum recovery can take up to a year, and for some even longer.
Breastfeeding has a lot to do with it along with hormonal changes, lifestyle changes, the length of time every new mom takes to heal, some have Diastasis Recti, some experience a C-section…all of these are factors to length of time of postpartum recovery.
There’s no clear cut answer, but I do know that a lot of women put the pressure on themselves to heal quickly and return back to normal.
However, if you set an expectation of 6 months to a year, then you are more likely to enjoy postpartum recovery and enjoy the time you have with your baby.
5. What would you suggest to a new mom who wants to “get her body back”?
Develop a good habit of fitting a workout into your “mom” lifestyle. Once you develop that routine and habit of working out whether that’s when your baby sleeps or when your baby is doing tummy time, then you can begin to progress into more involved workouts.
Create a trigger in your routine. Whether that trigger is brushing your teeth, or the moment you put your baby down for his first nap, whatever that trigger is, make that the reminder to work out next. Every time you experience that trigger, exercise immediately after. That’s how you can begin to develop healthy habits.
Also, drink lots of water and substitute water for unhealthy snacks or sugary drinks. This will fill your stomach and decrease your cravings to snack throughout the day while giving you energy, among so many other amazing benefits of water. I recommend you start with that first.
6. How do you recommend women approach postpartum fitness? What mistakes do you see?
I highly recommend focusing on one thing at a time. Rather than doing a total body workout program where you get burnt out and exhausted from doing something like spending 30 to 60 minutes trying to workout while taking care of your baby, I recommend focusing on just your abs as your beginner mom workout. For my workouts, it would only take 2-3 minutes to get started. This is completely manageable with little to no sleep.
Some common mistakes I see a lot of new moms making is that they go to YouTube and pick any random workout that ends up being too intense, too strenuous and too time consuming.
So then they give up the next day to never return again.
They also get into the grind of losing sleep. With that exhaustion comes a lack of motivation to work out. Then you might push the workout to the end of the to-do list. I highly recommend putting the workout at the top of your list early on so you can develop good healthy habits as a new mom.
If you are within the first 6 weeks postpartum, focus on a breathing session as your “one thing.” Take 5 minutes to focus on your breath. No real workout is involved, but once you are cleared from your doctor to work out, substitute your breathing exercises for your first core exercises.
If you are not sure what your first postpartum core exercise should be, then join my free 5 day email course, Restore Your Core; it’s what I recommend to everyone who is just getting started on postpartum ab strengthening and core repair.
*It is important to always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program and get medical clearance. Always warm up thoroughly and stretch after all workouts. LiveCoreStrong.com and Jena Bradley will be not be responsible or liable for any injury sustained while exercising at home, gym or elsewhere. Perform exercises at your own risk.