Interview – Pre & Postnatal Exercise with The Bump Protocol (Meredith Whitney)

0:11  – Meghan
Hey Mama, welcome to this special episode of Mama’s Daily Dose, the interviews. This is actually my very first interview that I did with Meredith Whitney of the bump protocol. In the all you mama interviews, so this is also posted to YouTube, but I wanted to share it here with y’all. Meredith is a pre and postnatal corrective exercise specialist and diastasis and core consultant, which is quite a bit to say, but basically, she helps women through all stages of life, pregnancy, postpartum motherhood and beyond. We talk about some really cool things in this episode, including how she started the Bump Protocol with a bottle of Rose. And we talked about if it’s too late to fix your core and pelvic floor, because I received questions from women with kids up to age 10 if it’s just too late for them to basically stop peeing themselves. And then last but not least, we debunk some of the conflicting advice that you receive when you’re both pregnant and postpartum. So enjoy the interview.

1:32  – Meghan
Hey, Mama, friends, and welcome to the All You Mama Interviews where we bring experts in their field directly to you. I am Meghan Q Barrett of allyoumama.com. And I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I do know people that do. And our first expert that we have coming on today is Meredith Whitney, and Meredith is a pre and postnatal corrective exercise specialist and diastasis, and core consultant. Basically, she helps women stay fit throughout all stages of life, pregnancy, birth, postpartum motherhood and beyond. Welcome, Meredith,

2:13  – Meredith
Thank you so much for having me. So excited to see you in sort of real person, but not…

2:21 – Meghan
I’m super excited to see you. And I’m so excited to learn more about the Bump Protocol and what you’re doing to help women, I have quite a few questions of my own, as well as some questions from some mamas in All You Mama. So, I’m just going to hop right in it. And tell me a little bit more about what you do with the Bump Protocol. And what made you create it.

2:47   – Meredith
So I was joking around with one of the other coaches because I was looking at your questions this morning. And I giggled, because I actually created this one evening, after having an awesome conversation with my business coach, and a bottle of Rose. And I just started drinking, like, I’m just gonna do it, I’m gonna start this program and I finished a bottle and and then like, in two or three hours, I had everything set out. The programs started when I started taking on more of a full time role at Seven Mile. And the clients that I was bringing on, were either postpartum or newly pregnant and had not told anyone. And my interest grew really quickly with, you know what to do with pregnant females what to do in terms of recovery, with postpartum females coming back to the gym, and learning all these functional movements and sort of spiraled from there. I’m quite interested in, in this field. So I jumped into a specialty course, and sort of started from that. And when I was close to finishing the specialty course, that’s when I started getting some ideas about what I really wanted to offer at the gym. And it ended up being a small group program for either females who were planning on conceiving or currently pregnant, or females who had just given birth or were in their fourth trimester at some point in trying to figure out how to get back into fitness. And the program that I run is something that females can do continuously throughout their pregnancy and postpartum. There’s no waiting period. There are things that we would keep an eye on, if there were any things that a doctor may have suggested, you know, maybe we shouldn’t be doing this but all the movements and the breathing patterns would be safe leading right up until you give birth and day one postpartum.

5:01 – Meghan 
I have to say, I have a three and a half year old and one and a half year old. And I feel like the information has changed so much even from having my three and a half year old where there’s so much conflicting advice. I had one midwife tell me, I couldn’t CrossFit at 12 weeks, and then the next time I go in at 16 weeks, they’re like, Oh, no, you can CrossFit, you’ve been doing that. So how, how are you kind of that bridge betwen? How do women know what they should and shouldn’t do?

5:34   – Meredith
It’s a really good question, I actually tried to stay away from what you should and shouldn’t do, because each female is completely unique in their selves in their experiences and how fit they are and what they do and their regular day. So what I do is I try to actually bridge that gap, that gap between someone who is pregnant and their doctor saying, you know, you should start working on pelvic floor exercises, or, you know, you need to start walking versus a CrossFit athlete, or someone who does F45 or Orange Theory. I bridge that gap so that they come into my class. You’re doing breath work, which is the most important, we’re focusing on pelvic floor exercises. And then that gap sort of comes in between the strength training and your endurance or interval training where you know, someone might be able to do a squat with weight, where someone is just learning that squat. So I take a very individualistic approach where I have a workout set for them. And I have progressions of different challenges for each person, depending on where they are in their fitness.

6:46 – Meghan 
Awesome. Yeah, I think that’s a great way to approach it. Because, I mean, I had come from basically being a competitive athlete, you know, off of that, to becoming pregnant, and I felt so lost…like I don’t even think I’d really heard about “coning” until maybe I almost gave birth. Can you explain “coning” and what is the reasoning behind that?

7:13  – Meredith
Sure. So you know, coning can happen to people who aren’t pregnant as well, it can happen to males as well. But generally, what you have is, in the front of your body, you’ve got this long line called your in the linea Alba and on either side is your abdominal muscles called your rectus abdominus. And those can sometimes become more dominant, when our other muscles aren’t working in synchrony or not working properly. And so generally, what you’ll see is in, you know, in CrossFit, we brace a lot when we’re trying to do a heavy lift. And you’ll see with these pregnant females, that they’re trying to brace to protect themselves to do certain movements. So that bracing and bracing over time is going to put a lot of pressure on your abdomen. There’s an offset of pressure in your abdomen that places pressure on that linea Alba and the rectus. And it sort of starts to stretch, and then you’re sort of pressing it out. So you can see that a really simple way to test that out is if you’re about to do a set up. And all you want to do is just sort of crunch your shoulders and your head towards that situp, position. And then you can see a little bit of coning sometimes. So we do try to prevent that in my class. And we also try to get your internal abdominal muscles like your transverse abdominus and obliques working in synchrony, so that doesn’t happen so that your front, ab muscles don’t take over and your inner core is actually working properly.

8:53 – Meghan 
That is like the best explanation I’ve heard. I’ve just heard, “don’t do anything that makes coning.”

8:59 – Meredith
Yeah, I really try to stay away from the do’s and don’ts and I want people to feel confident and empowered that they can still do something that they love. I have a client who has been training her butt off to be in the CrossFit Games. And she found out during this training, that she was pregnant. And so we pivoted really really quickly. And I can see her having this internal fight with herself and that competitiveness and that ego and then you know, I want to do kipping pull ups and I want to do I still want to do sit ups so we’ve made minor adjustments so that she can slowly progress into something that is allows her to be more aware of her body and have a positive experience without just saying okay, you can’t do sit ups anymore. You can’t do toes to bar anymore. So It’s been a really eye opening journey for myself. And I know for her too, because she has, to set her ego aside. But she’s learning a lot in this journey as well.

10:12 – Meghan 
I feel that on many levels. Okay, so I’m going to pivot a little bit away from the pregnancy and go more postpartum/motherhood. I got this question from ranges in Mamas, from ones that have three year olds all the way up to like 15 years old. And it was a question on, what is there and what can you do for your pelvic floor and your core…when you’re that far postpartum?

10:43  – Meredith
That’s a really good question. And I personally believe that there is no wrong time to get started on pelvic floor work. If it’s something that you missed out on when you were pregnant, or even if you’re a regular gym goer, without a child like myself, it’s something that you can slowly bring in to your practice and daily practice. And it’s something that I get a lot of my clients at the gym to just do five minutes a day. So very simple breathing exercise exercises that, again, focus on that inner core. So I’ve got this inner core. So we’re we’ve got our diaphragm, which is our major breathing myself, we’ve got our pelvic floor, so diaphragm up here, pelvic floor down there, and then we’ve got our abdominal muscles that sort of fill that canister, and we’re working on that, that canister for abdominal pressure and fluid breathing. And so that’s the first thing that I would say to these mamas to start working on is just diaphragmatic breathing, core control breath. So a little bit more active breath where you have a nice, relaxed inhale, and then that exhale, you sort of tried to gather that abdomen together, almost like someone’s tying a scarf around you, that would be the first step that I would suggest to them. And then slowly adding some really simple pelvic floor exercises in so imagine that you need to stop yourself from peeing or pooping, and then that gentle squeeze, and then a gentle release, and those gentle squeeze and release exercises that you do for maybe a minute a day, if that will start to make you a little bit more aware of what’s going on down there. And that helps a lot.

12:20 – Meghan 
Awesome. And then, do you do this iin your small groups to work on these breathing exercises and everything to?

12:30 – Meredith 
Yes we do. So the first five to 15 minutes of our class is focused on breath work, and minor movements with breath work as well as pelvic floor specific exercises.

12:43 – Meghan
And then for those that don’t know, I probably should have said this too, Meredith is located in Grand Cayman. So for those listening that probably don’t have access directly to you, do you have like some resources for them to check out to?

13:00 – Meredith 
Yes, absolutely. So I do offer online personal training as well. The course that I did my certification through is called Fit for Birth. And if you Google that, you can actually go on to their website, and they have a coach located all across the world. So you’re able to sort of connect with these coaches all across the world. And there may even be one in a certain location that you’re looking for, that have similar training that you know, they may not have the same background as me, they may be a Pilates instructor, a yoga instructor, a Chiro or Physio, lots of different backgrounds with that specific pelvic floor training. The other thing that all these mamas can look into, is looking for a women’s health physiotherapist or practitioners specifically in your area. There is a lot of women’s health practitioners that I’ve been following on Instagram that put out great content. But if you are someone who has maybe practiced pelvic floor work, or you don’t really know where to start to get into a pelvic floor specialist would be my first piece of advice because they can do internal exams as well. And so if you don’t know what’s happening on the outside, they may be able to tell you what’s going on on the inside and sort of guide you that way too.

14:31 – Meghan 
Yeah, that’s great advice. I know after I had my first son, I think I waited till like seven or eight months postpartum, but I was like, Huh, I want to make sure that I’m doing this right. So, just having someone to check that and then I went a few times and got some exercises and was able to do it on my own, but just making sure that you’re doing it correctly.

14:56 – Meredith
Yes. And so I have a couple of friends down here that were in similar situations as you where… a late start to some pelvic floor exercises as well. And again, there’s no time than the present to start practicing this stuff. So if you’re one of those people that sort of hasn’t started and scared to start, go online, find some really good resources, someone in your area to help you. And just keep going with it. Because sometimes it’s just a matter of telling your brain “Okay, I’m going to squeeze here, I’m going to relax,” even if you don’t feel anything, those that brain is making some sort of muscular connection for you too.

15:34 – Meghan 
So I bet there’s a bunch of women watching this right now that just started their pelvic floor exercises toe while they’re watching this!

15:43 – Meredith 
squeeze and release!

15:45 – Meghan
I feel like I should be doing it right now.

15:49 – Meredith 
It’s so important. I was speaking with one of the physiotherapists, who helps me in my programs, we actually chatted about it last week with the ladies is that, even if you think that you’re doing all of the right things over time, as we age, whether we have kids or not, things might not sit like they used to. So it’s really important to keep practicing, keep practicing the strengthening and relaxation of your pelvic floor as well, because some people are overactive and other people are under active. So we need to find that happy medium.

16:24 – Meghan 
Yes. Awesome. That is great advice. Okay, so here’s another question that I got from another range of mamas. It was how to how should you approach getting back into working out. And I got this from, I believe there was a running, CrossFit, and then yoga in there too. So we got a whole range of workouts.

16:45 – Meredith 
Okay, that is a really good question a very important one as well. And you want to make sure that whatever you do you feel comfortable with the movements in your own body. So the way that my program runs for postpartum specifically is you can have your baby and the next day you can get into my classes, so long as you feel comfortable. I do really like having the doctors on board, I think that’s really important that they understand the exercise program that it’s not just going back into heavy lifting or running that there’s some sort of progressive building of your muscles. But again, the first thing that I would say to these ladies, wherever they are, whether it’s yoga, Pilates CrossFit, running, swimming is that you make sure that you are getting some core control, some abdominal control, and you’re synchronizing that with your pelvic floor work. So actually, what I’ll do is I’ll send you my YouTube clip of my breathing exercises so that you can share it with whomever you want, so that you have an idea of what I’m talking about. Yeah, but gentle movements, movements with fluid breath, like bending over hinging. For instance, say, you’re bending over to pick something off of the floor, just knowing that maybe an inhale down, and an exhale up sort of keeps you safer and movements. But I’m a true believer that you shouldn’t be waiting until your doctor clears you at six, eight weeks, whatever it is, there needs to be something that you’re doing at home. There’s lots of things that you can do at home that sort of build that tolerance and put you in a more optimal position to returning to whatever whatever it is that you’d like to do.

18:31 – Meghan 
Yeah, I think there’s, I don’t know not misnomer. I don’t know what the word is, but that, you’re just supposed to sit there for six weeks until your doctor says okay, you can go. And then, okay, I can go do what then? You know what I mean? Like I’m not I’m not gonna go in the gym and start back squatting the weight I was squatting,

18:54 – Meredith 
No, because your organs might fall out!

18:56 – Meghan 
Exactly. So, you just don’t have a lot of direction that it’s like, okay, I go from doing  nothing to go ahead! Yeah. So do you have some guidance on building that up?

19:09 – Meredith 
And that’s where someone like a pre and postnatal exercise specialists like myself comes in handy, or someone that you trust, that can help guide you. There are people that can get back into their regular routine earlier and feel good about it with no obstacles, but not everyone is like that. So it is nice to be able to have some sort of transition period, whether it is you know, postpartum to six weeks, or maybe it’s someone who’s been a year postpartum and is now ready to go back and do strength training or yoga or Pilates or whatever, you know, there. You can’t just jump back into it. If you have a knee surgery or a shoulder surgery. The last thing that the physiotherapist or doctor recommends is for you to say okay, you just had your surgery, you’ve got your two week clearance, go Have fun, let’s do some pull ups and push ups, they’re not going to tell you that. You’ll probably have physio, you’ll probably have a bunch of bands at home and all of these exercises to do and so that’s how I treat postpartum is that this is your gentle way of getting back to do what you love safely and efficiently.

20:19 – Meghan 
Awesome, I love that gentle way to get back to what you love. You need to write that one down. That is good. Okay, so I had posted about this on my Instagram and I got so many women that were like “mind blown” which mine is too, because I need you to tell me about this tailoring your workouts around your menstrual cycle. And what it looks like, I am beyond interested…

20:48 – Meredith 
So I am brand new to this. And by no means an expert. And I’m sure you’ve heard the book, beyond the pill by Dr. Brighton. So that one I’m actually just reading now, it wasn’t my first book, but I now have it in my room reading it. And I’m not promoting this book for a paid advertisement or any true interest here. It’s called “In The Flo” by Alyssa Vitti. And it’s just a really eye opening book. I have a list of people who want to borrow this, but they don’t know that they’re never gonna get my copy. But I probably just order thema copy.

21:28 – Meghan
I do the same thing I do that I keep I don’t have like here, I’m just gonna you buy one.

21:32 – Meredith 
Yeah, I don’t want to let it go. Now she has a lot of things online that you can purchase. But the book was just enough for me to get started. So the reason why I got started was when we got back into the gym in July, I was doing all this high intensity work. And I was feeling great, right? My hormones were high, I was having fun, no more at home workouts. And then in September, when everything regulated, I just started getting really tired and I was tired of just go go go workout workout workout. So I switched my programming to a strength training program. But during that time, I had quite a few of my female clients who either messaged me to say they wouldn’t be in the gym for a week, or said that they didn’t want to do the certain week workout that had been programmed for them. And it took a couple weeks for me to figure out what was going on. And then I have these females saying, Oh, I was on my period, I didn’t want to come into the gym, I was feeling really tired. Or Yeah, I just didn’t really want to do the running workout. Because I was on my period, I sort of just wanted to do yoga or something. I said, Okay, let’s start talking about this, let’s figure out what’s going to work best for you. So we started to slow things down closer to their period, and they were in the gym more consistently. So the book comes into my life a couple months ago, I start reading it, and essentially it just breaks down your period. So the first thing is that you have two cycles that are happening on your female body circadian rhythm. You don’t really think that. For us it sort of breaks down the four pieces of your cycle. And when you should be doing more higher intensity workouts versus thinking about strength training, or, you know, stretching, walking, and it doesn’t specifically talk about CrossFit or F45 or orange theory, but it sort of gives you an idea of what you should be looking at. So in the last month, I followed along the book I followed along a little bit of the nutrition guidelines, sort of what types of meats to eat, when what types of vegetables to eat when so I’m getting my micronutrients. And I’ve been pretty level for the past couple of months and and weeks doing this. So it’s really cool. I highly recommend the book. I actually just finished my menses so I am back to higher intensity workouts but the past two weeks, I’ve just been doing strength training, really low intensity, and it’s been great.

24:25 – Meghan 
That’s awesome. I feel I naturally do that. Even with my with the workouts like that. I’m like, Okay, well, I’m going to do it, but  I’m just here today. You know what I mean? Thats the five days of my period. It’s like I’m here today, I need to do something. But I’m by no means going to PR at all.

24:48 – Meredith
Yeah. But I think that if we sit down and look at that type of stuff and really become more aware of what’s happening with our bodies, we realize this is why I don’t feel like PRing today or maybe that’s why you didn’t PR one day in a back squat, you know, it potentially could be because of the different variety of hormone levels in your body and your body saying no, no, now is the time to just relax and have a little bit of fun. And next week, energy is high. Okay, let’s hit this PR.

25:20 – Meghan 
I love that I’m definitely gonna have to look into that more.

25:23 – Meredith 
Yes, you should. It’s been really eye opening, I can’t talk enough good things about the book. Very cool. I’m not even halfway through either.

25:34 – Meghan 
We’ll have to talk again, once you get it all in there. Alright, so we’re going to start closing up. And I’m going to ask this question to all my experts. And what is one piece of advice you’ve received that changed you or your life?

25:50 – Meredith 
So I’ve been thinking about this. And the first thing that came to mind, which was just really solidified, what I’m doing now is to take risks and to just run with it. So if you have an idea, or something that you’re truly passionate about, and you’re humming and hawing, sometimes you just need to jump over that fence and see what happens.

26:15 – Meghan 
Sometimes you just need to drink that bottle of Rose. Right? I know I love that. That’s one of the things I say all the time to the All You Mamas is that any action is better than no action. You could be doing the wrong thing. But you are still moving forward. And that is way more important than staying stagnant.

26:34 – Meredith 
Absolutely. I completely agree with that. Meghan.

26:37 – Meghan 
Awesome. Well, I love this and I love chatting with you. I had a great time. If you guys want to check out Meredith. Check her out. It’s @thebumpprotocol on Instagram. Anywhere else you want them to check you out.

26:52 – Meredith 
No, that has everything it links to a Google form if they want to be on my mailing list. I don’t email a lot, but just some important things. Instagram is the big one.

27:04 – Meghan  
Awesome. I will link the Instagram too so you guys can check it out. But once again, it’s the bump protocol. And thank you so much, Meredith. And all you mamas have a great day free of mama guilt, you deserve it.

Check out Meredith and The Bump Protocol on IG;

@TheBumpProtocol

Meghan Barrett is a Mama Coach & Podcaster. She helps mamas be unapologetically themselves, go after what they want and feel connected.

She’s helped Mamas all over the world to unleash their confidence, reach their goals and no longer feel isolated in their mama journey.

@MeghanQBarrett

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