07 Oct Kangatraining…. From a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist’s (and mum’s) perspective.
Finding a way to exercise after you have had a baby is HARD. Finding the right combination where you can bring your baby to a suitable class, and they are happy for a whole hour, is difficult. There is also the concern about what type of exercise is best for the post-natal period.
Let me tell you about my own experience struggling to find a happy balance between being able to exercise and keep my baby/babies happy.
About 8 weeks after my twins were born, I found a post-natal class where I could bring the twins with me. Perfect! This worked really well while they were small. The class was at 9am, so for the first 6 months they would sleep in the pram at the edge of the class while I worked out. However, once they hit 6 months, they became more aware of their surroundings and didn’t want to sit in the pram anymore. If I let them out they crawled around trying to play with the gym equipment (very unsafe!), and if they were strapped into the pram they would cry. I would then spend the whole class pushing the pram back and forth trying to get them to settle. Something I could have done at home. For free.
I then moved to a mums and bubs bootcamp, where they had a child minding assistant. I think if my children had been older this would have worked really well. Given they were still under the age of 1, they were required to stay in the pram during the session, which was fair enough given it was held next to the beach. I enjoyed these classes, the camaraderie amongst the women was fantastic and motivating. What wasn’t so fantastic was hearing my twins crying every time I ran up Burleigh hill near where the children were being minded.
To be fair to both of these classes, my twins were quite unsettled at times, and there were plenty of babies at each of these classes who seemed much happier than my two!
After my second pregnancy, I decided no more classes where my baby has to sit in the pram. My twins were doing kindy now, so I had a day where I just had my baby on his own and I had heard about Kangatraining. I was very keen to try it, as I could never have done a class like this with the twins, given that you wear the baby in a carrier for part of the class, which you obviously can’t do when you have two. As a WH physio, I am very aware that there have been concerns voiced about this type of class. That the extra load of carrying your baby and using your baby as a weight can be problematic if your pelvic floor is weak. I was therefore very interested to see how the class was run.
Once my youngest was 12 weeks old, I joined the local kangatraining class. I loved it from the first session. I found it to be not only an enjoyable work out, but as my bubba was involved in the class, it was a pleasant one on one time with him. He loved it, he would laugh and smile and gurgle, and given that he was probably lacking in being given enough attention at home (three under three will do that to you), it felt like a wonderful bonding time between us. I experienced the same camaraderie from the other mothers, and found the trainer to be knowledgeable and aware of the challenges training post-natal mums provides.
The screening tool was comprehensive, with specific pelvic floor questions. There was a large focus on pelvic floor exercises at the end of the class and talk about the red flags of pelvic floor dysfunction. Which, in case you don’t know, are any leaking of urine during exercise, any feelings that you are going to leak, or any feelings of heaviness or a dragging sensation in the pelvic region. These are all symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, you should not exercise through it, and you should see a pelvic floor physiotherapist for an assessment. I have also found the trainer to be proactive in referring people on when needed.
There are concerns that using your baby as a weight or having your baby in a carrier is too much for your pelvic floor. Sure, in the class you are using your baby as a weight. But in my opinion, you have to do this, every single day at home. Should this not be something that you also train for? My babies have all spent a large amount of time in baby carriers, again, training to be able to do this for longer periods is a functional task.
Also, the exercises are appropriate. There is no jumping, no boxing, no skipping, no running. Which are very high level pelvic floor exercises, and often present in post-natal exercise classes where your baby is in the pram. To me, for anyone running a post-natal class, the key thing is communication. Pelvic floor dysfunction can present in any exercise class. You need to tell your clients what the red flags are, encourage them to talk about pelvic floor and if they are experiencing any problems, and refer on when a problem arises.
And the best part of Kanga? Once the babies are all safely in their carriers during the more aerobic part of the workout, they all fall blissfully asleep, snuggled into your chest.
Every single last one of them.
Photograph kindly supplied by Kangatraining Gold Coast.
For more information please see www.kangatraining.com.au