By Sarah Lindenfeld Hall, Go Ask Mom editor
It takes 40 weeks for the female body to create a baby, and moms need to give their bodies at least the same amount of time to recover, says Crissy Fishbane, a certified therapeutic exercise specialist and personal trainer. But that's not the message most of us hear after we give birth.
"The amount of care and information available to women about their body after they give birth is abysmal! The overall message to women is that everything should bounce right back.," Fishbane tells me. "They should do nothing for six-weeks to heal, have an often cursory once-over by their OB-GYN, and then jump back into an exercise routine in order to return to their pre-pregnancy weight as quickly as possible. This can cause damage to the many women who need far more time and therapeutic exercise to heal specific areas of the body."
Fishbane, a former Wake County high school teacher who later launched her own fitness business, realized just how little information many women get after giving birth when she delivered her own child—a daughter in 2016. So, now, she's working to help them as a fitness instructor for
Fit4Mom Midtown Raleigh, through an online program designed to help moms repair their core after pregnancy and childbirth and other efforts.
"There is no one-size-fits-all approach to postnatal fitness," she tells me. "What one woman can do six-weeks postpartum might take another woman six months to achieve and that is OK! We need to listen to our bodies and take the necessary steps for proper healing. As a society, we need to develop new norms for postpartum recovery and change the expectations placed on the female body after birth."
I checked in with Fishbane to learn more about her work. Here's a Q&A:
Go Ask Mom: When did you get involved in Fit4Mom? What sparked your interest?
Crissy Fishbane: I attended my first Stroller Strides class when my daughter was three months old. It was one of the first times I had really ventured out of my house alone with her. I was petrified and exhausted by the time I actually reached the art museum where class was being held. Yet, when I arrived, I found a welcoming army of mothers who understood where I was coming from. I was outside breathing the fresh air again and I was moving my body. I felt a sense of normalcy return to my life. Soon after, a friend told me about the open Body Back instructor position. I knew I had to be a part of it. I love everything Fit4Mom stands for and the Body Back program, in particular, spoke to my interest in postnatal fitness.
GAM: Now you teach the Body Back program. What's that like? Who is it designed for?
CF: I will never be able to say enough amazing things about the
Body Back program. It is designed for the mom who is ready to ramp up her workouts and commit to taking charge of her health.
It is an intense eight-week program and is capped at 12 participants, which means participants are gaining all the benefits of small group training. The moms get to build relationships as they offer encouragement and support to each other, and the trainer is able to offer a lot of one- on-one attention. We meet twice a week for intense HIIT-style workouts. Mom gets to leave her babies at home and take a much deserved hour for herself. We get sweaty and laugh a ton as we move through bouts of cardio, strength and core work. We finish with a relaxing meditation and I always bring cool lavender scented washcloths to help the mom’s embrace that final moment for themselves.
The program includes a nutrition guide that focuses on whole, unprocessed foods. As a coach, I provide an extra layer of accountability with check-ins throughout the week. We start and end the program with photos, measurements, and a fitness assessment so we can see the progress made.
Without a doubt, the most important part of the program is the inner strength and confidence these women walk away with. We practice a lot of self-love in Body Back. I cannot tell you how many women have told me the most important thing they took from a session was getting their self-esteem back. THAT is why I love this program!
GAM: Do you have a favorite exercise or stretch that you do everyday? How do you incorporate your toddler in your workouts?
CF: I absolutely love the cat-cow pose, followed by a nice long child’s pose, in the morning when I wake up. I started practicing yoga during my pregnancy and fell in love with the relaxed, limber feeling I have after my practice. These two poses work out the kinks in my neck and back that I tend to wake up with each morning.
I have always been a runner. I think there is something special about being in nature and breathing the fresh air as you run. It is therapeutic for me. I often bring my daughter along in her stroller and she loves watching the trees float by. She’s usually fast asleep by the end.
GAM: Some people see working out as a chore, but it's so much more than getting physically fit. It can help your emotional well being as well. How as staying fit helped you deal with the day-to-day of being a mom?
CF: Working out has been essential to my emotional and mental health. When I first had my daughter, I had postpartum anxiety, a condition that is unfortunately all too common and not talked about nearly enough. Getting back to an exercise routine was the number one thing that helped me return to a sense of normalcy.
(*Note: Anyone experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety should seek out the care of a professional. Exercise can be a beneficial addition to your care plan, but you should not rely on a self-diagnosis or a self-created treatment plan.)
There is a certain feeling I get after a good workout that is hard to describe. It is a spent, satisfied, accomplished feeling. Consistent workouts help me stay calm and patient with my family. I am better able to deal with tantrums (my baby) and being asked the same question for the millionth time (my husband). I don’t respond to piles of dishes and long lines at the grocery store with quite the same degree of crazy!
GAM: You're also involved in some other mom-centered projects. Tell us about those!
CF: I have two projects I’m working on that I’m incredibly passionate about.
One is the launch of a Repair Your Core program that I have been working on with Dr. Amy Moore, Women’s Health PT, Dr. Stacey Majure, Pelvic Floor PT, and Cindi Michaelson, Women’s Health and Nutrition Coach. This eight-week online program is designed to heal the core after pregnancy. It’s designed to be the missing piece between when a woman gets the green light from her doctor to begin exercise and her returning to the same workout routine she was doing prior to pregnancy. It consists of four weeks of pelvic floor therapy, followed by four weeks of progressive strength training, each week building on the progress that was made in the week prior. It also includes eight weeks of gentle nutrition, accountability, and coaching on healthy behavioral change. I believe every woman would benefit from going through a program like this after giving birth, even if she has no diastasis recti or other obvious symptoms such as peeing when sneezing or jumping. Our body goes through so many changes in such a short amount of time. There are steps we can take for a smoother recovery. This program is an integral part of that recovery.
The other project I’m working on is my personal “passion project.” A few months ago, I started collecting mom stories. Evidence shows that writing and sharing our stories with others can be therapeutic. I have received stories about sick children, lack of sleep, life as a military wife, raising twins, learning to love stretch marks, vomit in the hair, and poop in the shower. These stories have made me both laugh and cry, but, most importantly, they have made me feel less alone.
I aim to publish this collection of stories next year. I can only imagine the benefit I would have felt if I had access to these types of stories in those first few months in the trenches as a new mom when it seemed overwhelming to pick up the phone, leave the house, or reach out to anyone for help. It would’ve been nice to know that other women had experienced similar things.
Once the book has been published, a portion of every sale will go to creating care packages for local NICU moms to let other mamas know they are not alone on this challenging journey of motherhood. If you’d like to contribute a story to this project, I would be honored to receive your submission! Please submit here:
Find out more about Crissy on her Strong Happy Mama website.
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.
Source : https://www.wral.com/on-a-mission-this-mom-is-working-to-help-others-physically-recover-from-pregnancy-childbirth-on-their-own-time/18265934/