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BIRTH: The most athletic thing a woman’s body will ever do

Baby B 2-0048.jpg

BIRTH: The most athletic thing a woman’s body will ever do

By Dr. Breanne Coates

The way a woman moves her body has the potential to enhance or hinder her experience of pregnancy, birth and postpartum. At BIRTHFIT, we think of the motherhood transition as a season of life. Pregnancy is a temporary state. During this time, we adopt the mindset of “training for birth”. Birth is arguably the most athletic thing a woman’s body will ever do. It requires strength, endurance, determination and surrender. During pregnancy, we do not shy away from fitness. Instead, we direct our athletic efforts to prepare our bodies and minds for birth. We think of training during pregnancy as “in-season training”- not the time to be doing things that cause pain, injury or dysfunction. The mantra of “just listen to your body” or “do what feels right” misses the boat and women deserve better guidance and support. 

There are certain exercises that “feel fine” but may no longer be appropriate as our bodies change during pregnancy. Just because we can, doesn’t always mean we should. Exercises that should generally be avoided during pregnancy and the entire first year postpartum include: crunches, sit-ups, extended time in plank (appropriate time is individual), side-plank, mountain climbers, toes to bar, any kipping movements, V-ups, and L-sits. Exercises that may be okay in early pregnancy but should be modified or eliminated around the 2nd trimester and for at least the first 4 months postpartum include: burpees, jump rope, running, box jumps, and any other dynamic or plyometric movements. Exercises that cause doming of the abdomen, pain, or leaking of any amount urine should be avoided. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, I can support you in figuring out the cause, finding a way to train without exacerbating the problem and help you fix the problem so you can do the things you want to do symptom-free.

BIRTHFIT Boulder’s Prenatal Foundations classes will include a safe and effective workout with individual modifications as needed, education on how to use the concepts taught in other workouts and aspects of life, as well as mindset work and take-home exercises to prepare mentally and emotionally for birth.

While pregnancy is temporary, postpartum is forever. The postpartum period does not end 6 weeks after birth, or even 6 months. Our bodies are in a constant state of healing for the entire first year postpartum and the way we choose to support our healing during this time has great influence on our health, susceptibility to injury, overall bodily functioning and our fitness potential for the rest of our lives. There can be enormous pressure to “get your pre-baby body back” and that can be difficult to ignore. Adopting the mindset of “slow is fast” allows us to respect our healing bodies, honor them for all of the amazing things they have done to create new life, and allow ourselves the time to rebuild a solid physical foundation. When we train from a “slow is fast” mindset, we take time in the early postpartum period to recover, to guide our cores to heal in an optimal way, and slowly progress ourselves to greater intensity and more complex movements. Doing too much too soon negatively affects the healing process and can create injury and dysfunction which usually leads to setbacks and makes our goals that much further out of reach. Joining a BIRTHFIT Postpartum Series can be a great way to begin to heal intentionally and reintroduce fitness, all while being surrounded by a community of women who are choosing to approach their postpartum journey from a similar mindset. Even if you have older children, this can be enormously helpful in giving your core the attention it needed in those early years.

If you have not yet had children but you are thinking about becoming pregnant, it can be very helpful to the conception process to start adapting your training and thinking about all of this ahead of time. Taking the time to prepare our bodies physically, mentally, emotionally and nutritionally can lead to more positive pregnancy and postpartum experiences.

Pregnancy and birth are some of life’s greatest unknowns and this requires that we are deeply connected to ourselves, our bodies and that we are respectful of our bodies’ changing needs. There are certain methods of training that are particularly important during pregnancy and postpartum. These are: neutral spinal positioning, diaphragmatic breathing, and intra-abdominal pressure. These help to create or maintain ideal positioning and functioning of the core which can help prevent injuries and discomfort during pregnancy, allow baby to get into a good position for birth, allow the diaphragm and uterus to be more effective during labor and birth, allow for an easier recovery postpartum, and can help heal core and pelvic floor problems, even if it has been multiple years since giving birth. Around 30% of women experience pelvic floor dysfunction and/or diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles). While there are many factors that go into the development of these conditions, the way we train during pregnancy and the way we recover and rehab postpartum have enormous impacts on preventing or significantly improving these conditions. 

As a chiropractor and as the BIRTHFIT Boulder Regional Director, I work one on one with women to provide education, chiropractic care for the whole family, core and pelvic floor rehabilitation and on-going support throughout the motherhood transition. As part of our Community Partner program, all Mecha clients will receive a 25% discount on chiropractic and rehab services at my office, Alpine Chiropractic and Rehabilitation Center. This is work that I find deeply fulfilling and I am so excited to bring BIRTHFIT Boulder’s classes to Mecha! 

Read more about and sign up for BIRTHFIT Boulder’s Prenatal and Postpartum classes at Mecha.

Dr. Breanne Coates

BIRTHFIT Boulder Regional Director

Performance, perinatal & pediatric chiropractor


Enhance Your Exercise Recovery


Enhance Your Exercise Recovery

5 Nutritionist-Approved Tips

By Sue Van Raes

If you are like me, your days are full. With all you have going on in your world, I am sure you want every work out to count, and the recovery time in between workouts to be effective and supportive to your body.

Today, I have for you a few important tips and tricks to add into your post exercise regimen. These are tiny tweaks you can make to increase your lean body mass and reduce oxidative stress on your body post-exercise.

1.How to Hydrate:

Hydrating during and after your workouts is imperative, but getting enough water is not the only type of hydration to focus on. For optimal recovery, you may benefit from broad spectrum electrolytes.

Electrolytes are made up of minerals – including potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium. Electrolytes exist throughout your body, in your blood and bodily fluids. 

When you exercise, sweat, and urinate you lose electrolytes. An electrolyte imbalance can be caused by dehydration, over exercising, illness or a poor diet. Hydrating your body with electrolytes creates happy muscles and blood chemistry, ensuring an easy and effective recovery.

There are many great sources of electrolytes: 

  • Electrolytes powders (be sure they are free of high glycemic sugars or artificial sweeteners)

  • Vegetable or bone broths

  • Coconut water

  • Green Juices (such as celery or cucumber)

If you notice muscle cramping, dizziness, fatigue or light-headedness after exercise try adding more electrolytes.

2. Elevate your Anti-inflammatory Eating:

Most of us associate exercise with health. While this is mostly true, exercise, when not handled with care, can wreak havoc on your cells, tissues, and skeletal system. When we exercise rigorously, we must tend to our recovery rigorously as well.

One effective way to boost a healthy post-exercise recovery is by eating an anti-inflammatory diet, and specifically refueling with anti-inflammatory super-foods.

Here are some of my favorite anti-inflammatory super-foods:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids (such as wild fish, chia seeds, flax seeds, or an omega 3 supplement)

  • Turmeric

  • Avocados

  • Dark chocolate

  • Berries

  • Nuts

Include these foods in your diet after you work out as often as you can to nourish your body – and recovery – effectively.

3. Power Up with High Quality Protein:

Exercise initiates the breakdown of glycogen and muscle proteins. After your workout, your body rebuilds its glycogen stores and repairs muscle proteins while also building new muscle. 

Eating an adequate amount of protein after your workout ensures that your body has ample amino acids to repair and rebuild muscle, as well as build new muscle for a stronger and leaner body.

A simple snack or protein shake of 20-40 grams of protein has been shown to increase the body’s ability to build muscle after a workout.

Here are some post workout proteins to try:

  • High quality (low sugar) protein shake

  • Green smoothies with collagen powder

  • Grass-fed, wild-caught or pasture-raised animal protein

  • Bone broth

  • Greek yogurt (low in sugar)

  • Pasture-raised eggs

  • Kefir (low in sugar)

  • Quinoa

  • Nuts and seeds

4. Add in Alkalizing Fruits and Veggies: 

Fruits and vegetables keep your body in an alkaline state and fuel you with nutrient dense vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetable affect your strength, stamina, and endurance. A low intake of fruits and vegetables can lead to fatigue, muscle damage, lack of muscle strength and lowered immune function.

Aim 6-9 cups (measured raw) of fruits and vegetables (go heavier on the vegetables) per day.

5. Restore and Rest:

Rest is integral to exercise recovery, and if you're not giving your muscles enough downtime, you could end up slowing down your progress.  

  • Take a rest day each week (do restorative stretching, YIN yoga, or a gentle walk)

  • Give your body as close to 24 hours between intense workouts to ensure your muscles have enough time to repair, rebuild and strengthen.

  • On your menstrual cycle?  Many women feel better backing off a little (volume and intensity) especially if you are feeling fatigued.

  • If your body tells you to rest, listen to it.

Like many things, more is not always better. Exercising smarter is something to consider, giving your body what he/she needs for optimal recovery. Try including these little tips and tricks into your exercise regimen and power up your body for the best results.

Join Sue for our first free nutrition talk in our Power Up Your Plate Series at Mecha on Wednesday, August 28th from 7-8pm.