Safe Exercising for Pre- and Post-Natal Women

Presenter: Katherine
Guest: Michelle Wright
Guest Bio: Michelle Wright works for MIshfit which is a service provider focusing on pregnant women and they pregnant & post natal exercise specialists.


Health Professional Radio – exercising for Pre and Post Natal

Katherine: Today we’re joined by Mish Wright, the owner of Mishfit. What she’s done is she’s developed a unique personal training program. She has currently two training centres, one in Northcote and one in Ringwood in Melbourne. She decided to set up this business to provide safe exercising for pre- and post-natal women. Welcome, Michelle.

Michelle:   Hi, Katherine.  Actually, Katherine, I’ve got something really exciting … I’ve got more than two locations now.  We are now set up in Shepparton in Northern Victoria, and also very soon, we’re opening in Mornington and Emerald, and also in Burwood and Ashburton.  So there will be a lot more.

Katherine:   Wow!  You’re rapidly …

Michelle:   Yes, it’s very exciting.  It’s very, very exciting.

Katherine:   Yeah, you’re rapidly expanding.  It is so exciting and it’s so good to hear that some of the more rural and country Victoria areas are getting one of your centres.  It’s great.

Michelle:   We’re very, very thrilled about that.  We shouldn’t let our country sisters miss out.

Katherine:   No, definitely not.  What I wanted to talk to you today about was pre- and post-natal exercising.  At a time when a woman’s body is changing so rapidly, it’s great to have somewhere they can go, where they know that they can stay healthy and fit but also safely.  Can you tell us a little bit about your training program?

Michelle:   Sure.  Well, because of my background in education, I feel like we are trying to educate our clients on how to exercise safely and repair their bodies and take on the strategies for life.  Even if they go and enjoy other exercise options in their communities – going to the gym or playing sport – that these strategies they will learn at Mishfit will take them through the rest of their lives.  That’s our goal.  That’s why we have our tagline – ”Empowering women for life.”

Katherine:   Right.

Michelle:   We have our first program, which is ‘Mishfit Mothers’.  This is a ten-week program and we run it during school time, during the school term.  We allow the mums to bring their babies and their children for free.  That’s really important because a lot of women don’t like to be away from their child.  Certainly, if they need to stop and breastfeed or stop and feed, it’s all good for them.  We have different strategies that we teach women to exercise safely, and a lot of this is working on pelvic floor and deep core muscles, and how do we contract those.

Katherine:   I know your training programs, they’re both to educate and there’s a practical element as well.  Is that correct?

Michelle:   That’s right.  It is very practical, and Mishfit Mothers is the base one.   When women can graduate from that, then we have a graduate program called ‘Mummy Sweat’ which the intensity is a little bit higher.  But we know that the women have been to the women’s health physio, have a really good understanding of how to contract their pelvic floor, have a really good understanding of our philosophies, and then they’re in the perfect situation to really work as hard as they like.

We also have another option, which is Powerplate, which is a whole body vibration trainer.  I boast that I have the biggest vibrator in town, Katherine, [laughter] which is just great for time-poor women, which is most mums.

It’s a 30-minute work-out but it is … I’m actually the master trainer for that  in Australia, and it is an awesome product to get women’s pelvic floor and deep core muscles activated and switching on, even when they can’t feel them or they’re not very  strong, like immediately after  giving birth.

Katherine:   Right.  This 10-week program – when do women normally go to this?  Is it in their second trimester, or … what’s the timing?

Michelle:   If they’re pregnant, they can come as soon as they’re pregnant.  Obviously, in the first trimester, they often don’t feel that well.  We encourage them to take it easy, and also, in the last trimester as well.  When we get to the last trimester, it is a little bit of how they’re feeling.  But when they are pregnant, we are educating them on how to keep their pelvic region really stable to avoid pelvic instability, which is really a painful and debilitating condition that can happen through pregnancy and last for the whole of their pregnancy.

We want to avoid that – so, the best part is educating women so they don’t get it, rather … what often happens is they come to me because they have got it, and they’ve heard about what we do, but avoiding it is better.  Then once they have the baby, they can come back either after their six-week check from their doctor, if they’ve had a vaginal delivery, or after eight weeks when they have had their OK from their obstetrician.

When they come back, they’re encouraged the first three months to almost view their body like it is still pregnant.  We consider that to be the fourth trimester, and it’s really, really important that we encourage women to allow themselves time to repair after their pregnancy and birth … very important.

Katherine:   Right.  There’s also a condition called diastasis.  Am I pronouncing it right? [laughs]

Michelle:   Yes, [laughs] you did very well.

Katherine:   Thank you.

Michelle:   Diastasis is the splitting of the abdominal muscles that happens later in pregnancy.  Usually, the widest point sticking out is the belly button.  We look at that below and above, for someone—and they actually see it.  If you sit up or do a crunch, you might see your belly dome.  It’s actually the ligament has split and you’re pushing your bits through.  It’s really, really important post-natally that you are diagnosed and given consideration for that.

One of the main ones is really important.  We know that doing crunches and sit-ups are going to make this worse.  You’re going to keep pushing your insides up through that gap and we don’t want to do that.  We want to encourage it to heal up over, heal back.  But often, women getting up out of bed, or up from the floor, will do a continual crunch.

With women with diastasis, it’s really important that like when they were pregnant, roll to the side and use their arms to push up, so that we allow full healing of those muscles.

It’s really important too, that we learn the muscle, which is the transverse abdominus, how to activate that, which is the deep core muscle that run across the pelvis and that’s activated by the pelvic floor.  All of these muscles need to work in conjunction, together.  But the first stage of recovery is awareness, and understanding how and what you need to do to get these muscles firing and so you’re in the best place for full recovery.

Katherine:   Right.  I wanted to ask you something in particular about the ‘Yummy Mummy’ that we hear about, because women see celebrities, they bounce  back to their pre-baby weight so quickly.  They, too, maybe feel some pressure to rapidly lose their baby weight.  In my experience, I see women – while they’re pregnant, it’s all about nurturing the baby, as it should be, but as soon as they give birth, it’s all about shedding the pounds.

Do you [inaudible 08:24] women before the birth – and you also see them after the birth?  Do you find that their attitudes do change towards their health?

Michelle:   I think they are under a lot of pressure to get back to their pre-pregnancy shape, and this is sometimes … for a small amount of women, this is a very easy thing to do, just probably genetics more than anything.  They can snap back and look like they’ve never given birth.  But for most women, it is a process.  I think that that the fourth trimester, allowing your body to heal.

Now, a couple of really important points here is that, one – even those women who absolutely look like they’d never had a baby, their body we all covet, it doesn’t mean that they are going to be strong from the inside.  It doesn’t matter what you are on the outside.  You still need to pay particular attention to your pelvic floor and get that strong.

Whether you’ve had a C-section or a vaginal delivery, your pelvic floor has held a lot of weight during the pregnancy, and it will need some rehab.  They might look fabulous from the outside, but on the inside, they need to get that strong to match the outside.

The second point I’d like to make is that often, women might lose the body of extra weight that they gained, but they still keep that roundish tummy.  This is because the transversus abdominis, the deep core muscles, are probably not firing as well.  They’re a small muscle and it can be very hard to know how to work them.  And it really does take awareness, that’s why we work with a women’s health physio, so that women can see this muscle contract on screen and they really have an ‘aha’ moment.

It’s also linked to pelvic floor.  So all of those things are really, really good and it’s important for us that we give our clients that understanding and education and awareness, so that when they do go back to the running and the more high-intensity workouts that they’ve enjoyed, they’re doing so safely and not becoming one of those statistics we talked about in our last interview.

Katherine:   Yeah.  These are really good points.  I’m glad you mentioned them, that just because someone appears to be healthy on the outside—there are other things that could be going on in the inside.

Michelle:   Absolutely.

Katherine:   Thank you so much once again for joining us.  It was a very insightful interview.  Thank you, Mish.

Michelle:   You’re welcome.  Thank you for having me, Katherine.

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