I’ve had two big boys now and have a third ‘bean’ on the way. When I started in my first pregnancy I had hopes. Hopes of an easy birth and hopes of a quick recovery. I’m a yoga teacher and I know how beneficial yoga is in pregnancy and during birth. Fast forward…hmmmmm it didn’t quite go as planned. I was induced and categorically did not have an ‘easy’ birth. It was long and without sharing the gory details, to be quite honest, walking around after tears and some common consequences of giving birth, I quickly realised this was not going to be such a quick recovery. But I had yoga right? I had a great practice before, Ashtanga, inversions, the lot. If I got back into that I would soon recover. I also had a diastasis recti, meaning an abdominal separation. It was relatively small but my flat tummy was no more and I realised my ‘core’ definitely wasn’t functioning well enough. Back to crunches, planks and cobra to fix this. After a time I realised this wasn’t working. It felt great for my shoulders and to get into the present moment and relax, but my abdominal muscle gap wasn’t closing. Some investigation into this and I realised I had been doing the opposite to help my recovery. In plank my lower belly did ‘hang out’. Sorry if you are a visual person reading this as I know it’s not ‘pretty’! I don’t know that it got worse (it can) but it definitely wasn’t getting better. My pelvic floor was ‘ok’, I had the occasional leak when I sneezed but hey doesn’t every new mum? My investigation led me to the MUTU System. MUTU stands for mummy tummy and the system is all about mums recovering. I learn’t the occasional leak wasn’t good and in fact my current yoga practice was likely to make things worse.
What did I do you may ask?
I listened! I listened to my body and Wendy, the founder of the MUTU System. I, at first disappointingly, scaled down my yoga practice, taking out planks, inversions, back bends and any crunch like core work. They create intra abdominal pressure that you don’t need when you are recovering. And you may find you are ‘exercising’ any gap to stay in an open position. Unless you really don’t have any separation, leaking at any time, protruding tummy muscles, or lower back pain, avoid them until you know everything is functioning well together. And think yourself luckily as these post natal symptoms are very common. What you will soon see from the MUTU System is that you cannot strengthen muscles that aren’t functioning optimally. If it’s not working, you can’t make it stronger. All that will happen instead is that other parts of your body – namely your abdomen, or pelvic floor, will take up the strain…
Luckily through mum and baby yoga and the MUTU System I went back to starting with my breath. It felt like a step backwards, but through my bio mechanics training I know the breath is intimately connected to a functioning pelvic floor. As is alignment. I looked at how my feet were working, the position of my pelvis (which makes a huge difference to a ‘hanging tummy’) and ultimately got into regularly following the MUTU System and more gentle specific yoga practices to address my alignment and overall get stronger. What felt like a step backwards actually took me at least 5 steps forward. I can now feel how much better my yoga practice is. I am not jumping up to balance on my head and put pressure through my core and neck but now floating up and balancing in a much more efficient way using my body as a whole. I am stronger than I ever was pre-pregnancy.
What is the MUTU System?
An award winning medically endorsed program for mums to recover body confidence and ‘get back’ or in my case actually ‘get more’ body confidence. It is an online program you can follow with a whole heap of specialist advice. It’s a minefield out there after giving birth, but many people have found this program has the right answers and one of the highest success rates for recovery. You can also come to classes to see exactly how you can address your alignment and specific pelvic floor or abdominal issues, close a diastasis recti, and feel body confident again. And practice higher intensity exercise in a safe way that will get you sweating, losing weight, and feeling great. I’m a certified MUTU Pro and been through the program several times over. I am now using this in my third pregnancy and hopefully birth will go as well as the second.
How does it differ from yoga?
There are some yoga poses in the MUTU System – like downward facing dog. There are no planks and not a crunch in site. You feel your core truly working without having beaten it up in a way that could potentially cause more problems. It’s broken down into ‘core phases’ which are 10 mins of core specific and safe exercises starting off with gentle breathing to truly connect to your pelvic floor and core awareness. And ‘intensives’. These are 25 mins worth of high intensity interval training i.e. heart rate up, rest, heart rate up. Known as the best way to lose weight. The exercises, some from yoga and others regular exercise such as lunges and squats, are done in such as way as to allow your body to work as a whole and bring any abdominal muscles together. The pelvic floor and overall core cues are the very best, endorsed by women’s health specialists and the well known Pelvic Guru, USA based Tracy, who is also a MUTU Pro. You will feel in very good hands!
What’s mum and baby yoga
Mum and baby yoga is an integrated practice with your baby to gently get back to yoga, and enjoy bonding time with your baby, whereas the MUTU System is very specifically for your recovery as a mum of children of any age. It’s not with your little one, although that said they can and often love watching. The System uses balls and bands which are quite entertaining! Mum and baby yoga classes are structured to support new mums in feeling as well as possible in both mind and body, as well as offering soothing techniques for babies, such as humming sound bath which replicates the kind of sound heard in utero. Also included is sensory stimuli for babies, including sounds (clicking, humming, tutting, blowing raspberries etc.), visual stimuli (waving, wiggling fingers, the larger shapes of the yoga movements etc.) and touch (tickling, kisses, sound vibration through humming etc.)
For mums the movement is focused on drawing the core and pelvic floor back together and regaining strength gently. Reducing aches and pains in the upper body from carrying baby by opening the shoulders and releasing the neck. The focus is on realigning the natural curves of the spine working towards neutralising the pelvis and regaining posture if excessive lordosis has occurred during pregnancy. At the same time you can enjoy the practice of being calm and mindful to undo some of the stress and challenges of being a new mum. And allow active rest and time to engage with your baby in a non-judgemental environment, which is especially good for mothers who might be struggling to cope or be feeling completely overwhelmed. Having the community of new mums is great and time to chat about feeding, sleep issues etc.
Test yourself for a diastasis recti and get 15% off the online program here
Work with me, a MUTU Pro, either one-to-one via Skype or in person, or join classes in Earlsfield and Wimbledon – Read on here
Earlsfield Mondays 9:30am and 8:20pm
Wimbledon Friday 1:45pm
For mum and baby yoga
Earlsfield Mondays 11:15am
Wimbledon Mondays 1:45pm