When I got pregnant the emotions were overwhelming! Becoming a mom was something I had dreamed about for years and now, here I was about to become a first-time mom, and I was beyond excited. I knew pregnancy would change my body in many more ways than just physically. Of course, there would be weight gain, cravings, and a roller coaster of hormones. The number of things that I worried about was endless, with the number one thing being a healthy baby, and the last thing on my mind was my pelvic floor. At the time, I worked at a physiotherapy clinic amongst so many great physiotherapists. One, in particular, was a Pelvic Floor Therapist specializing in Women’s Health. She recommended I do perinatal health classes to prepare my body for birth and maintain a healthy pelvic floor during and after pregnancy. This was the best thing I ever did.

Almost all pregnant women will experience some form of discomfort and as the hormone relaxin begins to pump, you become like a weak elastic band with increased joint flexibility. This is where the perinatal physio classes come in.

The journey began with an in-depth one on one assessment. This included an internal exam which can be awkward at times, but let’s face it! You’re about to push out a baby in front of a room full of people, so the awkward feelings pass pretty fast and on you go! This exam allowed the physio to see exactly what it was that you would need to work on and focus on during your classes.

The classes were run by two physiotherapists, Gina-Marie Cerantola and Corina Kerrison, who provided the most amazing educational and practical training.

A professional slideshow was put together for each class, and as the slideshow was reviewed, we worked alongside it while being guided every step of the way. Along with each class, we were given a handout to continue with homework and review what we had learned that day.

Who knew that there were so many versions of Kegal exercises to benefit the pelvic floor. These came in handy the further along I got in my pregnancy… Bracing myself everytime I sneezed or coughed to make sure I didn’t pee myself. Some of the main points that were covered in the prenatal classes were:

How to find and strengthen your pelvic floor

Strategies to prevent urine leakage, low back, and pelvic pain during pregnancy

Tips to progress strength and stay active as your body changes with an individualized strengthening program

Essentials for optimizing your labour and delivery

Strategies to protect your pelvic floor, return to intimacy and more after your baby arrives

One of the best things that I purchased before giving birth was an exercise ball!

I would sit on it at home while watching tv, do pelvic circles, and once labor began, I was able to bounce on it for some pain relief.

So here I was, 6 weeks after birth, and the day had finally come for my follow up with my physician. The 6-week clearance mark for intimacy and working out. My doctor fully cleared me with no concerns. As a first-time mom who was beyond sleep deprived, I accepted the clearance and off I went to my postnatal physio assessment. After an internal, Gina could tell that in fact, I was not ready for either. After feeling confused and a little defeated, I put my trust in her and began the postnatal classes.

The postnatal class was a safe place that was beyond educational – it was a place where we could go and discuss our concerns and continue with the one on one training to get us back to where we were or at least to a point where we were happy. A place where we could bring our baby and learn how to incorporate them into our workouts/exercises. I feel like, after birth, so many moms are left hanging in terms of recovery and restoring their bodies. You are sent away from the hospital expecting to know what to do or to figure it out. I knew that I had some stomach separation and I wanted to be proactive in managing it before it got worse or I did permanent damage.

Some key questions answered and points that were covered in the postnatal classes were:

Want to get back to exercise, but you’re not quite sure what is safe for your body yet?

Wonder if you have an abdominal separation or if your pelvic floor is strong enough?

Learn how to recover and protect your pelvic floor and core.

Learn strategies to treat urine leakage, pelvic organ prolapse, abdominal separation, back, and pelvic pain

Learn how to find and strengthen your pelvic floor and core

Learn recovery strategies to protect your pelvic floor and return to intimacy after your baby arrives

Understand the essentials for returning to exercise and activity as your body recovers from the birth of your baby

I did have quite a bit of pelvic pain after birth, especially once I began running. Through recommendation, I purchased an SI Belt to help stabilize my hips. This was great for not only running but also for longer walks.

As our bodies are all out of sorts after birth, one thing that was great was the Squatty Potty. A stool for the toilet to help prevent more stress after birth. (Frankly, it’s great for anyone to use).

Another thing that I find helps me to this day is sleeping with a king size pillow between my legs, keeping my legs, knees, and ankles aligned while I sleep.

If you are in the Calgary area and are pregnant or have recently had a baby, I strongly recommend you check these ladies out! Optimum Perinatal

If you are not in the area, I recommend finding a similar class, as you will not regret it!

Here’s to wishing you a happy and healthy pregnancy and a speedy recovery!

Ashley Quann