Program highlight: Prenatal/Postpartum
By Dr. Payton Busker, PT, DPT
Today’s post is all about the Prenatal/Postpartum Program here at Evlo! This program was curated by Doctors of Physical Therapy to support and guide expecting and new moms on their fitness journeys. Although many of our general classes at Evlo are prenatal/postpartum-friendly, we sought to close the knowledge gap of what can be safely performed at different stages of a woman’s journey!
First and foremost, we highly recommend that an expecting mother see a pelvic floor physical therapist at some point during her pregnancy. These providers are experts on evaluating your individual body as a whole and in relation to the changes that will occur during and after pregnancy. Our program can work in tandem with your providers’ recommendations and is not meant to replace pelvic floor physical therapy!
There are very general recommendations that are accepted when it comes to prenatal fitness:
- In general, supine (on your back) exercises should be avoided after the first trimester (week 12 of pregnancy). This is because extended periods of supine positioning can restrict venous blood flow. Some literature suggests week 20 be used as the delineation, but we air on the side of caution with this recommendation! You can use pillows or supports to prop yourself up to a 45’ angle for all supine exercises.
- Avoid exercising in extreme temperatures. Our ability to regulate temperatures decreases with pregnancy! Exercising in tight and restrictive clothing is also discouraged because of the potential for overheating.
- Transition slowly between positions to avoid orthostatic hypotension, a significant drop in blood pressure due to rapid position changing.
- Heart rate should not be used as a measure during pregnancy. Instead, you should use Rate of Perceived Exertion (or RPE). It is recommended that exercise not exceed an intensity of “moderate to somewhat hard”. This computes to about a 3 to 4 level of intensity on a 10-point scale.
About our program
Our program is divided into 3 sections:
- Prenatal 1st Trimester
- Prenatal 2nd/3rd Trimesters
How the program is structured
There is a week worth of classes for each of the above sections. The combination of classes targets all major muscle groups to ensure balanced muscle building while avoiding overuse!
The classes include:
- Lower Body Build
- Upper Body Build
- Core Burn
- Barre (Prenatal 2nd/3rd Trimester and Postpartum sections only)
- Fully Body Build
Each section also features a trimester-specific meditation to support you throughout your pregnancy.
Example from Prenatal 1st Trimester
Prenatal 1st Trimester
This section is all about supporting you at the beginning of your pregnancy! We keep the pace and transitions slow to contend with potential nausea and dizziness that you may be feeling. Each class is 30 minutes or less to make these classes attainable. But remember: do not feel obligated or pressured to “push through” any sickness. If movement and exercise is helping and supporting you during this phase of pregnancy, these classes are here to guide you.
Prenatal 2nd/3rd Trimesters
We avoid all supine (on your back) and prone (on your stomach) exercises in this section of the program due to the concerns mentioned under general guidelines! Just as in the 1st Trimester section, we keep pacing slow to ensure that you are getting safe and effective muscle activation. We also limit transitions from standing to floor exercises and vice versa to avoid having to get up and down excessively! The addition of the Barre class for 2nd/3rd trimesters targets the inner/outer thighs for pelvic stability.
This section can be started once cleared by your pelvic floor physical therapist and/or doctor. Feel free to show them the videos as reference! The classes are all 20 minutes or less (excluding the 30-minute Full Body Build class) as we know time is precious in these postpartum days!! Rest assured that you will achieve efficient and effective muscle activation in each class.
Of special note, this section features 4, progressive levels of Burn. Level 1 primarily focuses on breathwork, the cornerstone of getting reconnected with your abdominals. These classes feature education surrounding when to progress to the next level. We recommend progressing through these levels of Burn at your own pace before rejoining our weekly Burn classes!
Ways to use the program
1. Repeat these classes weekly until your next point in pregnancy or postpartum!
You could take the week’s worth of classes for each section over and over- they will continue to be effective! You do not need to “trick” or “confuse” your muscles in order to continue muscle building all throughout this process. Focus on intentional muscle activation and progress with external load if needed!
2. Learn appropriate modifications before hopping into regular, weekly classes.
If you feel confident with the modifications and exercises presented in the classes, you can take the regular week of classes, modifying as needed! I would recommend continuing with the respective Burn classes for each section to avoid having to excessively modify.
For Postpartum: Once you feel ready to progress from the postpartum section, I recommend you move to the Foundations Program! This 4-week program is a great way to fully transition back into our weekly classes. Even if you choose to progress out of the postpartum section, I recommend that you continue with the progressive Burn levels until you’ve made it through level 4!
Above all else, please remember to listen to your body and be kind to yourself. This is such a special time for you and should not be clouded by outside pressure. We are here to guide and support you all along the way!