We’re starting off our first Ask The Expert series focusing on a topic we all can relate to: postpartum health! Over the course of this week, we’ll have 4 experts weigh in on this topic and how each of them can help. The best part? They’re all women experts! Postpartum care can range from physical to mental health and today we’d like to introduce you to two women who’ve made it their goal to help mamas get their body back so they don’t have to live a life full of aches and pains.
Hallie and Ingrid are the inspiring mama duo behind Back After Baby, a program for moms, made by moms who saw a true lack of postpartum care for women in this country. You just pushed a baby out of your hoohaa, cool, you’re good, see ya in 6 weeks! Like, WHAT!? You just got ripped open with a C-section, cool, you’re good, take it easy and see ya in a few weeks. That’s INSANITY!
Having two babies ourselves, we’ve both experienced back and neck pain and even though our last babies are 2 and almost 2, we STILL struggle with strength in our core. The reality is, pregnancy is beautiful, but it can be really hard on the body. Why isn’t there more out there available to women in terms of education on how to get their bodies back to where they need to be to effectively take care of their new baby?
Ingrid and Hallie had these same thoughts and frustrations, so they developed Back After Baby. These mamas felt so strongly that every woman should have access to rehabilitation before and after having a baby. They’ve experienced this need first hand with having their own children, as well as with years of treating women with orthopedic conditions before and after giving birth. Through clinical practice and their own bodies, they’ve found that pregnancy can lead to muscle imbalances and movement impairments that can remain even after the body has recovered. This can lead to chronic pain that can affect function and quality of life, something many women just chalk up to the normal aches and pains of being a mom. Their goal with the Back After Baby program is to give women the resources and guidance they need to get their bodies back.
These women are true experts on the topic of postpartum care and so we had them give us some more insight on their program, how they can help any mama out there, and what women can do to take back control of their bodies after baby!
Postpartum Care, with Back After Baby
The landscape of postpartum care is slowly starting to change, but that change has been a LONG time in coming. The current standard of care is based on the false assumption that our bodies just naturally return back to their pre-baby state. There is the arbitrary 6-week check up and voila! You can resume your life—work, exercise, sexual activity (no thank you!). The problem is, the body you once knew is no longer the body you now inhabit and that 6-week window is WAYYYYYY too small for any recovery to actually happen. The consensus among physicians is that it takes at least a year for your body to recover from pregnancy and childbirth, and some would argue that a year is only a fraction of the time that it truly takes. The other long held misconception is that recovery is passive— just wait and things will return to normal. Unfortunately that strategy doesn’t work for most women, and moms are left unsure of how to address serious quality of life issues problems like Diastasis Recti, Urinary Incontinence, and Musculoskeletal pain. If you’re nodding your head ‘yes’ and thinking ‘tell me more!’, read on…
The previous approach to postpartum recovery has been mostly fitness-based— pregnancy and child birth are things we can recover from by getting back to our pre-baby workouts, losing weight, and testing our physical limits. Although this can work for some moms, we feel this approach is missing a critical piece of the recovery puzzle. Restoration of the mind/muscle connection is key and should be started right away. Most of the moms we see, sometimes years after giving birth, still have difficulty activating their Transversus Abdominis (lower abdominal muscle) and pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are critical to stabilizing the spine and pelvis, supporting the internal organs, and maintaining good bowel and bladder function. Many women ask, ‘why didn’t anyone tell me about this sooner?’ The answer is, more than likely they were told to wait 6 weeks before resuming regular workouts without explanation or specific training. They may have returned to exercise classes that included planks and push-ups, but they were missing critical support from a “core” that just wasn’t activating properly. This approach sets moms up for frustration and even worse…injury.
With a rehab-based approach, your muscles will start to activate better and you can begin challenging your core more aggressively. Stabilization exercises— that help promote proper timing of the muscle activation— can improve joint stability and support. Then it’s on to targeted strengthening and stretching, which can help restore better muscle balance while improving posture and movement. Finally, you’ll want to incorporate endurance training into your workouts. Holding a plank will feel completely different once your core is working properly, and will be infinitely more effective.
We have witnessed this rehab-based approach to postpartum recovery work with so many of our patients, and we are so excited to share it with moms at every stage of motherhood. TRULY… it’s never too late to start!
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has recently revised their postpartum guidelines, recognizing that sooner and more frequent follow-ups should be the new standard of care. It is now recommended that moms are seen within the first 2-3 weeks postpartum to make sure that they are doing well and that additional intervention is not needed. This is a significant step in the right direction, but it is just the beginning. We want to provide moms with so much more! We offer a host of services, including an online rehab-based workout program with education on all things postpartum, in-home wellness checks 2-3 weeks postpartum, one-on-one in-home physical therapy visits, local workshops, and classes. Wondering if one might be right for you? You can find out more about our online program at www.backafterbaby.com and see below for a description of our local services. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or to schedule an appointment.
In-home visits: These one-on-one visits allow us to hear your story and discuss your goals. We will evaluate your posture, strength, core stability, muscular engagement, and functional movements and will instruct and guide you through exercises and activities to help promote healing and postpartum recovery. We will evaluate for diastasis recti and initiate treatment if necessary. We also incorporate manual therapy, scar management, and education on proper positioning with activities such as nursing, sleeping, lifting, and carrying to help minimize the load on your joints and muscles.
Wellness Checks: Our 30 minute wellness checks offer moms a friendly face and helping hand during those first few weeks postpartum. We will screen for medical complications, postpartum depression, diastasis recti, incontinence issues, and ask about your general health and well-being. We can provide education on scar management, positioning strategies, and body mechanics when needed. We will communicate with your physician and make recommendations if appropriate. *You must have a prescription from your doctor for this service.
Workshops: Come and hang out with us, meet other moms, and learn more about postpartum recovery! The Back After Baby workshop, “Head to Toe: What you need to know”, is designed to give moms the basics on how to successfully recover from the musculoskeletal changes that occur during pregnancy and after childbirth. We’ll help you identify and address muscle imbalances and movement impairments you might not even realize you have! Get personalized instruction from Hallie & Ingrid, physical therapists and founders of Back After Baby. You’ll learn how you can restore normal strength, flexibility, and movement for improved function and injury prevention. Feel firsthand how better muscle balance and restoration of optimal movement can make everyday activities easier, decrease soreness, and restore confidence in your ability to tackle whatever comes your way!
Classes: Starting this October we are offering a weekly class that is a great supplement to the online program. Get real time instruction on how to properly engage and properly isolate muscles to ensure your are getting the most out of your workout and BAB Program! Workout with other moms, have fun, and learn how to function better with us! We would love to have you!
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Hallie Ager and Ingrid Hanna are physical therapists, moms, and the co-founders of Back After Baby- a boutique business focused on postpartum recovery which includes an online postpartum recovery program for moms at any stage of motherhood, wellness checks, in home physical therapy visits, workshops, and classes. After years of providing physical therapy to moms and after having their own children, Ingrid and Hallie are convinced rehabilitation is the key to minimizing musculoskeletal pain after pregnancy and childbirth. Back After Baby provides women with the guidance and resources they need to fully recovery from pregnancy and childbirth and return to an active lifestyle, free from pain and at less risk of injury. Ultimately they aim to improve the current standard of postpartum care.