With the arrival of my second daughter this spring I revisited my Mama Core programming I wrote in Spring 2020. I journaled my progress and noted what I did differently this time around, which wasn't that much! This time around I want to urge slowness. Deep healing. And introduce in a practical way what that looks like. So, no we aren't going to do hard ass workouts out of the gate but, we can start the foundation for deep healing, and building an even stronger you.
Here's what I want to say to you, mama:
Mama Core 1.0 works - I had no DR at my 6 week check up with my midwife with my 2nd baby (I also didn't after baby #1). I had no pelvic dysfunction concerns either (I was slow to heal the first go around).
Sprinkles Count - I was so amazed at how tired I was during my second pregnancy. I didn't move much during those months, I focused on resting, and keeping up with my then 3 year old (who unfortunately stopped napping half way through the pregnancy). After I had the baby I wanted to get back to movement. Get my body back in a sense... I don't mean bouncing back, I mean lets start moving again. I was so worried that with the lack of movement it would take me months to regain my former strength. I was pleasantly surprised how quickly I was able to grow my practice. Having a strong foundation before you become pregnant does influence the way you recover, even if you are like me that second time around when I didn't get to be as physical as I wanted to be. I was able to fit in 10 minutes here, 30 minutes there and like stones I was able to build back, and build back even better! Keep scrolling for 3 Sprinkle Practices you can do (Check out Week 3).
Listen to Your Mind, Body and Soul - those first weeks at home are so filled with so many physical and emotional challenges and treasures. With mindfulness we know our bodies better than anyone, we know when we are off balance, and if we have quiet times we are able to hear our own voices and spirit. Let yourself be your guide. Let yourself be your own healer.
Love Notes - This recovery I placed stickie notes on the back of one of the bathroom doors as kind reminders to myself. I've added a photo to this post as proof! I worked with "I am Strong" "I am Loved" "I am Enough". I also had the one's in the photo below during the last leg of my pregnancy and those first weeks home.
Mama Core 2.0 is my guide from Day 1 at home with baby you can do for 10 weeks. Then go back to Mama Core 1.0 for more deep healing. At any point in this guide if a week is too aggressive for you, just pause, repeat a week, or go back a week, and then move forward. Listen to your new body. Take your time.
MAMA CORE 2.0
by Emily O'Dea
Week 1: REST - actively rest which is actively telling yourself to rest. Your body is an amazing thing, and it did an amazing thing! Your figuring out baby, breastfeeding or not, if it's your additional baby, you have other children to tend to, etc. It's a lot.
Week 2: Gentle Basic Mindful Movement - Lay on your back, lay on your belly. Begin, restart, or continue Meditation. Walk. Find those pelvic floor muscles again with deep breathing. Sprinkle these things throughout your days this week. And, remember meditation can be done walking, nursing, feeding, pumping, resting, etc.
Week 3: Venture Out - Continue the above: resting and the gentle movement and meditation. Add side stretches, and find that active binding/TVA breath, and legs up the wall for 2 minutes every day. Venture out as well at least once this week. My 4 year old gave me a kind reminder this week during my recovery, there is so much going on inside of mommy as recovery is taking place. Try to take it slow and steady. It will be worth it.
Week 4: Sprinkle of Movement - Keep on continuing above: resting, gentle mindful movement, meditation, side stretching, TVA breath, legs up the wall, getting out (it's starting to add up, right?), let's add Sprinkles of Mindful Movement into the mix too. Below I have three practices for you.
SPRINKLES OF MINDFUL MOVEMENT PRACTICES
#1 Gentle Mat Practice with Foam Roller
belly time on mat
Foam Roller - pelvic floor breathe and tilts
Foam Roller - Chest Opener
Legs up the Wall
Hero's pose with arm circles
#2 Arm Practice with Theraband
Mobility behind head
Side pulls (both sides)
(Move theraband under the feet)
Breathe and notice any heart opening and replenishing of energy
#3 Gentle Mat Practice
left one leg 6x
both legs 6x
modified side plank with knees (forearm or wrist, and with arm as support or arm reaching to sky) both sides
Cat/Cow and Pelvic Tilt
Week 5: Foam Roller Time - Play with Everyone's Favorite Neck + Shoulder Release. It may need to be modified. Look for bleeding, if you are bleeding more heavily after these movement practices please slow down, and back off just a touch. Listen to your body. Table top (knees over hips, as you lay on your back) can be just enough for the core work. If you aren't quite ready for the Foam Roller Sequence try the Modified Core Workout below . Around this time you can also self assess for DR, or ask at your Week 6 check in with provider.
Modified Core Workout
Table top - for as long as you can
Side plank - with knees bent, and just lift your hips off the ground. Tiny movements will burn! Glass Knees - in quadruped position, tuck your toes, just lift your knee caps off the ground a tiny bit, then place them down again as if they are made of glass. Burns, doesn't it?!
super deep work 4-6x of each
Week 6: Vinyasa + Katy Bowman - Finding your flow physically and metaphorically. Practice beginner yoga practices even if you are a seasoned practitioner/student. Check out Katy Bowman resources and any aches and pains.
Week 7: Fascia Hydration - rolling with balls and foam roller. Rolling your the bottom of your feet can help hamstring flexibility, and relieve some tension. If you are starting to walk again, take it slow and work back up to what you were doing pre-baby. With my second pregnancy I was so fatigued, so my walking time and distance took a hit. When I had the ability to put baby in a stroller I was eager to get back to walking but my body needed to catch up to my ego first. Rolling with balls under my feet really helped the plantar fascia hydrate and get back on track easily. But, it took my mindfulness to stop, access, heal, and slow down. The sequence "Everybody's Favorite Neck + Shoulder Release" video is a great practice to start. There's also the lovely practice I teach in Restorative Yoga sessions, where you place two tennis balls or therapy balls beginning from the pointy bit behind your skull, and then travel an inch at time down to your hips, spending 2 minutes on each section of your spine. Then just melt into the floor.
Week 8 : Bending and Reaching - You're already doing these movements a lot with the baby, ain't ya? Let's just begin to be more mindful and engaged now as you reach into and over the crib and/or bassinet. Inhale to prepare, exhale arch and hug the belly to spine to support the spine. Be mindful as you twist making sure pelvis isn't getting twisted with it. Take note of your ribs, and tightness, your belly is trying to make its way back to new normal and it can be interesting to feel new sensations, tightness, and ease in places. Great time to start booking private sessions so we can utilize the chair to find that dive over.
Week 9: Hamstrings - Check in with those guys! Sometimes when they are too tight they can pull our pelvis back and cause more tension in our low backs. Most of us don't have ideal sitting posture as it is with exhaustion, deep lounging sofas and rockers so this is important to check into. Here's a video to stretch them out.
Week 10: Mama Core 1.0 and explore movement practices that give you energy. Try not to over do it. If you aren not sleeping thru the night, be extra mindful of your energy. If you do too much and not sleeping, you leave yourself open for illnesses, so try to steer clear from that. Mommies don't get sick time off. My Mama Core 1.0 blog posts has tips and videos to watch.
Of course always go with the direction of your care providers and internal Pts. This is also an opportunity for self-care, nourishing movement to allow you to heal and grow stronger throughout life. This protocol isn’t just for the new mamas; it’s for ALL mamas.
Be well. Be strong. Be kind. Healthy families are created by healthy moms. <3