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Pathways For Parenthood

Let’s Talk About Pre and Post Natal Fitness

Trista Zinn

Pre & Post Natal Personal Trainer & Owner of CoreSet Fitness

Q&A with Pre/Post Natal Specialist and Hyporpressives Trainer Trista Zinn

Why is core and pelvic floor training particularly crucial for mothers?

It is crucial to recognize and remember that our “core” encompasses more than we often realize. It plays a multifaceted role in our well-being, including posture, circulation, respiration, continence (preventing urinary and fecal incontinence), support for our internal organs (preventing pelvic organ prolapse or hernias), sexual function, stability, digestion, and even phonation. Additionally, the core balances and counterbalances pressure changes from within.

This core system, comprised of the respiratory diaphragm, pelvic floor, transverse abdominals, and multifidus/muscles, has a profound impact on our quality of life and athletic performance. When one segment of the core is not functioning optimally, the entire core can break down, leading to unwanted symptoms that we have come to accept as a natural part of aging and motherhood in women.

What is pelvic floor dysfunction and what are its signs and symptoms?

Pelvic floor dysfunction refers to the inability of the pelvic floor muscles to fulfill their intended purpose. This condition can occur for various reasons, and manifests itself differently in every person. It is crucial to recognize the signs and symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction as they serve as the initial steps towards both recovery and prevention. Signs and symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction include:

  • Accidental urine leakage during activities such as exercise, sports, laughter, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Urgency to reach the toilet or an inability to make it in time.
  • Frequent and constant need to urinate.
  • Difficulty emptying the bladder or bowel.
  • Accidental loss of bowel control.
  • Experiencing a prolapse.
  • Pelvic pain.
  • Painful sex, reduced sensation, or leakage during intercourse.
  • A heavy or dragging feeling or pressure in the pelvic floor.
  • Tampons no longer stay in or a feeling like there is always a tampon there but there isn’t.
  • Incomplete bladder emptying.
  • A bulge (or it feels and/or look like something is falling out).
How does pelvic floor dysfunction affect a woman’s self-perception and ability to maintain an active lifestyle?

Pelvic floor dysfunction often prompts women to limit activities that contribute to their symptoms. Those experiencing incontinence tend to reduce exercise and may curtail social engagements, as the unpleasant experience of leaking while laughing, coughing, running, or exercising can be discouraging. Similarly, women with prolapse are frequently advised to pause physical activities such as lifting, running, fitness classes, and even tasks like picking up children or heavy groceries. This cautionary approach aims to avoid exerting detrimental downward pressure on a dysfunctional pelvic floor.

The extensive list of activities to avoid significantly impacts a woman’s perception of herself. Her self-esteem, self-confidence, and zest for life start to diminish. When she sees herself as broken, weak, or fragile, her movements and posture become altered, hindering her ability to navigate life with strength and confidence. Unfortunately, the desperate attempts to protect oneself can exacerbate pelvic floor problems, as these “protective postures” encourage improper alignment and mismanagement of pressure on the pelvic floor. Women should not have to do this alone, which is why I brought Hypopressives to Canada.

What led you to discover the prevalence of pelvic floor dysfunction and its impact on women’s lives?

As a personal trainer specializing in pre/postnatal training and working with older adults, I often heard about pelvic floor health. However, it wasn’t until I embarked on a certification course that I became aware of the different stages of incontinence and the term “pelvic floor dysfunction,” which affects 40-50% of women throughout their lives. Surprisingly, at the age of 40, I found myself learning about prolapse issues for the first time.

During conversations with fellow moms in the playground, I was astonished by the number of women confessing the activities they had to give up due to leakage or incontinence. This eye-opening experience became my personal mission to raise awareness about pelvic floor health. I wanted women to understand that incontinence is not a normal part of aging or motherhood, and that recovery is possible.

It was during my visit to a pelvic floor physiotherapist that my understanding deepened, and I realized the emotional toll pelvic floor dysfunction can exact. I received the diagnosis of Stage 2 cystocele (bladder prolapse) and discovered the presence of scar tissue in my vagina. It became clear that the symptoms of prolapse can vary greatly among women, with some experiencing significant pain while others remain unaware of their condition.

To my surprise, the pelvic floor exercises I had diligently performed were not as effective as I had thought. My diagnosis made me hyper-aware of my pelvic floor, causing anxiety that even led to over-pouring my tea on two occasions!

What is the Hypopressive Method and how does it benefit expecting mothers?

As a postnatal mom, your physical demands change even though you are no longer carrying the baby internally. It’s important to acknowledge that your body won’t be the same as before, so returning to your pre-baby workout may not be the best approach. Choosing the right exercise program should be part of your overall pregnancy plan, even if you are only in the early stages of considering pregnancy.

The Hypopressive Method is a comprehensive approach to core health that encompasses postural and breathing techniques to address the true essence of the “core” and promote its synergistic performance as intended. Initially developed to aid new mothers in preventing and recovering from pelvic floor dysfunction after pregnancy, it has become an integral part of postnatal protocols in many European countries.

Hypopressive Fitness aims to restore core function, which becomes exhausted from both carrying the baby and the exertion of childbirth. This unique technique is particularly beneficial when implemented shortly after giving birth as it helps counterbalance the downward movement associated with childbirth. By encouraging upward movement and organ repositioning, it aids in postpartum recovery.

Learn more about the Hypopressives Method and how you can take control of your own fitness journey.

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