By Sarah Antico

The Commonwealth Games, like most sporting competitions, is a public forum for athletes to compete for their dreams. It an event where it doesn’t matter how you got there or who you are outside of your chosen sport, but rather what you do on that track/pool/field/pitch/court that counts.
At MTP Health, we often hear stories about how athletes must overcome personal atrocities and adversity such as injury or illness in order to compete for their country. However, something that has surfaced in the media around this year’s games is the number of new mums bouncing back from giving birth 9-12months prior to competition and managing to stage a comeback at the highest level. 
Australian netballer Laura Geitz
Australian hockey player Jodie Kenny
Kiwi shot putter Dame Valerie Adams
Vanuatu’s beach volleyball duo Miller Patu and Linline Matauatu
These are just a handful of mums who made the return to their respective sports after recently giving birth. The thing that strikes me most about these women is that their sports are both high intensity and high impact, elements that commonly deter women in the post-natal period.
For the 3 in 4 Australian mums who experience urinary incontinence or leakage at some point in their lives, the thought of repetitive running and jumping can be terrifying! To be able to overcome the physical and emotional toll of childbirth and then condition their bodies back to an elite competitive level is nothing short of extraordinary. 
Not every new mum has the desire to return to the world of elite sport but there are a number of messages we can take away from these inspirational athletes:

  1. Having a child does not have to stop you achieving your fitness goals!
  2. A gradual return to exercise is particularly effective in creating a lifestyle change rather than the ‘hard and fast’ approach.
  3. There are significant benefits for completing lower-intensity activities such as walking and yoga, including a reduced risk of post-natal depression, increased hormone regulation, and positive social interaction. 
​The post-natal pelvic floor is often the biggest deterrent for women wanting to return to higher intensity exercise. There is so much information in circulation about when/if new mums should be returning to their pre-baby exercise regime and what exercises should be avoided (usually, heavy lifting and jumping). This information will apply to women who have experienced a pelvic organ prolapse or are at high risk of experiencing one, but they are by no means absolutes for everyone indefinitely.
There is no question about the importance of strengthening the pelvic floor after having a baby and it should be prioritised over other movements. Many physiotherapists and yoga studios offer tailored programs targeting pelvic floor exercise in the immediate 6-8 week postnatal period and these are fantastic kick-starters. However, the key to enabling athlete mums to return to competitive sport is that they learn to coordinate localised pelvic floor strength into globalised functional movements such as squats and deadlifts. This 6-8 week transition period is where women commonly develop problems if they aren’t able to integrate their pelvic floor contraction correctly and this is exactly where MTP Health can help!
We believe in the power of movement and we want to help you achieve the impossible. We have developed a post-natal program to help new mums get back into exercise by incorporating fundamental pelvic floor activation and stability into functional training in order to gain the confidence to transition back into their pre-baby activities. For the not so new mums who might be experiencing leakage or are worried about engaging in the higher impact exercises such as running and jumping, MTP Health can also assist by structuring an individualised program that will target the coordination of pelvic floor contractions during peak movements.
The post-natal period is an amazing time and is a great motivator for you to work towards achieving some fitness goals you never knew you could! If you would like to book in an initial assessment, follow the link below or else give us a call for some more information on 9437 9794.