When Mommy Ready founder, Heather Christensen, first told me about her journey creating this program, it felt like serendipity. She had combined some of my favorite subjects both personally (as a Mom) and professionally (as an Occupational Therapist and Certified Hand Therapist) into one great program that encourages women to become strong for life and health. Intellectually, I understood that return to higher level heavy, repetitive, coordinated, and dynamic activities (mommy work) after birthing a baby requires strengthening the core first, but applying that to myself is a journey that has led me to seek help from the Mommy Ready Program.
As a first time mom, I had a fussy baby and I struggled with mom guilt for ever putting him down (that’s a blog article for another day!). I held him and rocked him and walked with him in my arms for hours of the day and night. I wore slings and carriers of all kinds. Contrary to my understanding of injury prevention, I ignored the beginning signs of inflammation: tingling in my fingers and aching in my elbow. I didn’t understand how sensitive our postpartum mommy bodies can be until realizing (too late) that I was not able to accept the same level of poor body mechanics and ergonomics I had until that time found to be tolerable.
After my second child, born 23 months after my first, I thought aerobic exercise would be a great way to get back in shape. I chose a Latin dancing exercise. Imagine the coordinated movements of jumping, turning, pivoting, kicking, etc involved. With not many classes under my belt, I already had knee pain keeping me from continuing. Talking with a physical therapist, he mentioned that hip/core muscular strength would be key to decreasing my knee pain. Wait, what??? My core will help my knee? The light bulb turned on in my mind.
Of course I knew he was right. I’ve preached core strength in relation to upper extremity health to others before. Somehow experiencing this truth in real life significantly increased its power to help me change and grow. With that motivation, I knew that I would not be able to return to physical activities essential to motherhood (like playing chase and jumping on trampolines and wrestling with my crazy little monkeys) without consistent participation in a program geared to strengthening my core in a balanced way.
After the Latin aerobic induced knee pain incident, I found a basic low back pain rehabilitation regimen online, focused on core strengthening, that seemed to meet my needs. Surprisingly, even though I was motivated- seriously motivated- to prevent recurring chronic pain, I had difficulty maintaining focus and commitment to my goal of achieving success with high level core strengthening exercise. I even experienced increased back pain periodically that caused me to start from the beginning of my exercise program more than once.
At the time Heather and I met, I was pregnant with my third and last baby. Months before my due date, I was already getting motivated to get my body back after childbirth and I knew that I would need to start with my core. I wanted to find the Mommy Ready website and start right away after delivery. My previous painful postpartum recoveries further increased my enthusiasm to recover well and prevent injury. However, when real life hits and motivation wanes, what has helped me most are the structured phases, detailed instruction, ultrasound biofeedback, and personalized coaching I’ve found through the Mommy Ready.
With the help of the Mommy Ready program, I am finally turning the key to the doorway of lasting success. I have appreciated Heather’s encouraging reminders through email and visiting with a Core System Specialist, to keep me on track in my daily exercises and fine tune my exercise technique.
What I’ve found? Progress at last!! And not a single incidence of back pain in my first four months postpartum. I am celebrating! Here’s to jumping, running, playing, hiking (and whatever else comes) with confidence.
Guest Author Robynn Oczkewicz OTR/L, CHT
Full time Mama to three boys (4 years old and under) and part time occupational therapist and hand therapist, Robynn spends her few spare minutes daydreaming about lifting babies with proper body mechanics and surrounding mommies in awesome ergonomic gear. Until that dream becomes a reality, she’s making her own self-care and injury prevention top priority.