Nicola is a first time mum, teacher, avid CrossFitter, ovarian cancer survivor, and all round lovely lady. I thought I’d share with you Nicola’s journey through postnatal recover and how we have helped her navigate this new, exciting, and sometimes stressful time.

Getting Started

Nicola first contacted me around 8 weeks after having her little girl. She had exercised comfortably and safely throughout her pregnancy and felt like she was ready to begin moving and exercising again. Nicola is a CrossFit Trainer and had also become interested in learning more about exercising throughout pregnancy and postnatally and so was looking for someone to guide her from both a personal and a professional point of view.

After reaching out to her social network for recommendations for someone to work with, a mutual friend sent her our way and Nicola got in touch straight away.

We began by having a good chat about Nicola, her pregnancy, labour, delivery, postnatal recovery so far, and her goals and wishes for returning to exercise.

Tailoring The Programme

Nicola wanted to eventually get back to enjoying CrossFit within the gym and joining in the classes. As it was during lockdown that we started working together, Nicola would be exercising at home but had been able to borrow some equipment from her gym so we had plenty of options to work with. We figured out how many times in the week Nicola would be able to workout and for how long. With all the information gathered, we started with a test week, of sorts.

The very first thing we worked on was Nicola’s breathing, her core function, and her pelvic floor function. Nicola’s programme contained breathing exercises, pelvic floor exercises, and we started to rebuild her core strength with movements that felt good for her. Getting Nicola moving and enjoying it was a priority so we began introducing some bodyweight movements. The early postnatal weeks can be full of aches and pains, long times sat down and carrying babies, and it’s common to feel like you’ve lost a large amount of strength so we aimed to get Nicola feeling mobile and rebuilding some strength.

Keeping Progress Moving Forward

As the weeks went by we checked in and progressed the exercises as Nicola felt good, introducing more complex movements and ways of exercising as time went on.

Nicola had always planned to be assessed by a women’s health physiotherapist following the birth of her little girl but lockdown had meant all clinics were closed. Having the information that can be gained from these assessments is invaluable to recovering after having a baby but we had managed to keep Nicola progressing without it by constantly checking in and asking Nicola to pay attention to feelings of heaviness, needing a wee, or general discomfort when performing any exercises. Nicola was finally able to be assessed as clinics reopened which revealed she had a slight pelvic organ prolapse and some strength and coordination work to do on her pelvic floor. Feeling somewhat deflated, Nicola was upset that our work so far hadn’t resulted in an “all clear”. Being given facts about the changes to your body after having a baby can be so hard to take. Especially if you’ve been working so hard to recover the right way. Nicola, myself, and her physiotherapist all spoke about what this meant for Nicola’s progress and it’s important to remember that these numbers and diagnoses are only ever really a good thing! Knowing exactly where you are and what you’re working with can only strengthen your efforts and send you in the right direction. Understandably it can be tough to work through emotionally but Nicola soon perked up and saw this as a fantastic opportunity to continue her progress in the way her body needs her to!

Taking The Next Steps

Nicola and I worked together for around 3 and a half months and, in that time, Nicola’s confidence grew along with her recovery progress to a point where she felt comfortable getting back into her beloved CrossFit classes. Still a MumStrong regular, Nicola has taken all she has learnt from me and her physiotherapist and is putting it into practice, making sensible informed decisions for herself, and looking to study to be able to help more women enjoy exercise through pregnancy and postnatal recovery.

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