Anyone that has grown (and subsequently birthed and cared for) a human knows that recovering involves far, far more than trying to reach a healthy weight. Incontinence, back/neck/shoulder pain, and core problems—commonly, diastasis recti—can wreak havoc on a woman’s postpartum body. Enter Every Mother, an exercise program designed specifically for women in the postpartum years that works to strengthen and restore core function by targeting deep core muscles. The program includes prenatal and postnatal workouts intended to treat, prevent, and resolve diastis recti, even years after giving birth. The latest from Every Mother is an early postpartum series, targeted for women who are under 6 weeks postpartum. The results? Amazing. For the full scoop on this groundbreaking new program, we chatted with Every Mother founder Leah Keller, who developed the program after years as a private trainer in New York City.
First off: is diastasis recti preventable?
Yes, in addition to the anecdotal evidence I’ve witnessed for many years with my prenatal clients, many of whom have entirely avoided diastasis recti, this published study suggests diastasis recti is largely preventable during pregnancy through exercise. The exercises performed in the study emphasized activation of the transverse abominis, which mirrors my approach to training and the foundation of Every Mother’s fitness system.
The early postpartum guidelines usually including a warning not to exercise for 6 weeks. What has inspired you to take a different approach with Every Mother?
Our early postpartum program grew out of a need that more and more obstetricians have expressed to provide support and guidance to women during the earliest weeks following childbirth. In the absence of medical or surgical complications, ACOG recommends women resume appropriate physical activity within days of delivery, stating explicitly that “pelvic floor exercises could be initiated in the immediate postpartum period.” Every Mother’s early postpartum program gently coaches women through healthy, restorative movements that facilitate healthy circulation, support core function, enhance mood, and improve quality of sleep.
How long should an early postpartum woman spend exercising? How often per week?
She can begin with as little as a couple minutes of gentle core activation, and a 5-minute walk indoors. As she recovers strength and energy, she can gradually increase the volume of activity she performs. The trajectory will be somewhat individual, and our 6-week path gradually progresses our programming to 30 minutes of light activity a few days per week, along with coaching in daily core engagement. We specifically designed our early postpartum program to promote safe, functional movement to handle the physical demands of parenting. We also incorporate light stretching routines to address the postural imbalances inherent in the post-pregnancy body, and the repetitive stresses of lifting, feeding and caring for newborns.
What would you tell a woman who might not think she is ready to begin an exercise program this early after giving birth?
Every Mother’s early postpartum program is really more a pre-exercise program that restores core function and baseline fitness to prepare you to safely participate in full exercise programming when you are cleared for that by your medical provider.
What benefits have you seen in women doing the Early Postpartum reclaim program?
One of the main benefits women enjoy is confidence that they are taking small, medically sound steps to heal and they feel less helpless and alone in their recovery. It’s very empowering to know you can do something for as little as a few minutes that can help you feel better and recover faster. Movement and activity during the early postpartum period also reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety while improving quality of sleep.
Walk us through the nuts and bolts of the program.
Every Mother encompasses several online EMbody Programs™ designed to address all stages of motherhood, with tailored paths and workout prescriptions unique to each stage and a variety of fitness levels. Our Early Postpartum path falls under the EMbody Reclaim program, and it includes 6 weeks of programming that range from video instruction on how to safely lift a baby to daily coaching in restorative core exercises, guided stretching sequences and a safe progression of low impact aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, a few times per week. Every Mother also reflects a very engaged online community of women supporting each other. Most members use our native mobile app to access their tailored paths, video workouts and other streaming content.
Should women expect to lose weight doing the Every Mother program?
Every Mother is not specifically a weight loss program, but many members achieve and maintain a healthy weight while following our EMbody Programs. We support the wellness goals of members with an engaged community, balanced exercise programming, and a healthy approach to eating whole, real foods. We emphasize self-care as an act of self-love, and we remind each other to be gracious with ourselves (we’re often our own toughest critic!). For Every Mother, being healthy is a process and a lifestyle.
Amazing. Thanks, Leah!