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Attention new moms: Why your fitness routine could be doing more harm than good

WATCH ABOVE: The message to women after having a baby often goes one of two ways: either, "Just do what you've always done, you'll bounce back" or, "You just need to accept that your body will never be the same." Unfortunately, neither are true and both can be very damaging to a woman's recovery. Erin Chalmers reports.

After having a baby, many women struggle with their bodies — not just on the outside, but the inside as well.

They get their six-week postnatal check-up, the doctor gives them the green light and they think sex and working out will be just like it was before they had a baby.

Sadly, many times that is not the case, and it wasn’t the case for mother Kaye Burrows.

“I think everybody knows that pregnancy will feel different and birth will be hard, but then I thought after the baby I would just go back to feeling the way that I felt before the baby,” Burrows said.

“And I didn’t. I didn’t like that I would pee when I was running, or when I would pick up my kids. But I also had low back pain and pelvic pain.”

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READ MORE: Mom shares postpartum photo to show ‘realistic’ side of giving birth

Burrows quickly realized she wasn’t alone. She constantly found herself in conversations with other moms going through the same thing.

“There’s a lot of information out there that’s inaccurate,” mom Amanda Percy said. “What I could do, what I should do; what I can’t do, what I can do.”

After four kids, Percy was suffering from both uterine prolapse — when your pelvic floor muscles can’t support your uterus — and diastasis recti, when your abdominal muscles separate.

“I don’t want to say trauma, but it is trauma to the body — it’s changes to the body.”

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READ MORE: Vagina Pilates? What you need to know about pelvic floor physiotherapy

Both women ended up going to see Mary Wood, a pelvic floor physiotherapist and the clinic director at CURA Physical Therapies.

“By the time you’re at six weeks, if you’ve had leakage, it should be getting better,” Mary Wood said. “Pressure should be getting better or gone. If you had pain, it should be getting better or gone.”

Wood has a simple test she recommends all moms do.

“If you can balance on one leg for 10 seconds without a wobble, without dropping a hip or twisting or holding your breathe or pooching your belly out — chances are your body is functioning pretty well. If not, we can figure out what is causing the problem or what factors are affecting it and then teach you what to do to improve so you’re not suffering thru pain.”

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Are you ready to exercise after having a baby? Try this test.
Are you ready to exercise after having a baby? Try this test. Global News

For Burrows the other issue was how she was working out. She didn’t realize the boot camps and 10-kilometre runs she was going on were actually doing her more harm than good.

“I didn’t understand the way I was exercising was impacting things like sex or daily life activities, but it totally was,” Burrows said.

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That’s when she began taking courses and eventually started Core Love, offering exercise programs specifically aimed at helping women after pregnancy.

“Our workouts are still really hard but we never blow past those symptoms of peeing your pants or back pain or anything like that,” Burrows said.

“If that’s happening there’s always a way to change that exercise so that you can strengthen your pelvic floor and also get a workout in.”

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She also gets moms, like Percy, to focus on how they’re doing everyday activities like bending to pick up a toddler or carry a car seat.

“It’s not just one hour, once a week,” Percy said.

“She got me thinking about things every day, every moment. Checking myself: are my ribs in the right position? Am I doing things that will reduce back pain and increase flexibility and alignment in my everyday life?”

READ MORE: Why new moms often don’t get enough exercise after birth

Kaye Burrows leads a post-partum workout class in Edmonton designed to help moms strengthen their bodies inside and out.
Kaye Burrows leads a post-partum workout class in Edmonton designed to help moms strengthen their bodies inside and out. Global News

And Kaye’s number one piece of advice is simple.

“Be respectful of your body at this time. If you don’t know where your pelvic floor is, or how to move it, or how to find it or you don’t know your deep core muscles then spend some time figuring that out because you need those muscles to run or do any other activity.”

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