Let me start this post by asking you all a question: how many times have you been told that being a mom means almost (or actually) peeing yourself every time you sneeze/jump/laugh? Or that as soon as the 6 week immediate postpartum period is up, you can jump right back into your exercise regime to “get your body back”? Or even that pain or reduced pleasure during intercourse is normal? I can’t be 100% certain, but I’m pretty sure that all of you have been told one of these at some point on your journey of becoming a parent (even partners hear these too when referring to their partners!). This is because for a very long time, women did not go for routine physiotherapy after having babies. In fact, many women did not know such thing was there or was necessary. Well, let me be the first to say to some of you that postpartum physio is a MUST for all new mothers. Here is why:
Your body adapts and needs to be retrained
In every circumstance, your muscular system, bones, ligaments, tendons and fascia adjusts to whatever body composition you’ve got. Our bodies structures are constantly changing through the aging process, and pregnancy and childbirth are no exception. Towards the end of your pregnancy especially, you’ve got a ton of extra weight that came on pretty quickly, and your body needs to adjust the way it moves and the way your structure supports you to fit this new mass. So whether you realize it or not, your posture, your core muscles, your back, etc are all working in a new and less favourable way. So after you have a baby… then what? It can’t be reasonable to think that your body will just remember everything from before this 10 month period immediately without help? No, you need to appropriately re-train how you perform tasks. Things like lifting, running, jumping, are all hard to do when your core no longer automatically engages. A trained physiotherapist can give you exercises to slowly bring strength and mobility back into these long lost areas so that you can function normally again.
Pregnancy is long, recovery can be just as long
One thing I have learned, as an Edmonton doula and a millennial having babies, is that “bouncing back” doesn’t look the way we see on TV. In many ways, your body might change forever – and for the better. Birthing a child is part of our primal functions and the process we go through actually helps our body mature gracefully. With that being said, work does need to be done to get to your version of new normal… slow and gradual work. Regardless of what kind of pressures our culture puts on you to look rail thin or lean and cut 2 months after having a baby, this is not what being a mom really looks like. Being a mom is looking at the amazing thing that your body did for the last 10 months. Being a mom is treating your body extremely well in gratitude for what it made, and seeking out professional help in getting it to function well again to help you keep up with your growing kids. Being a mom is being patient with yourself, and taking the time to make the right steps to allow your body what it needs to be your very own beautiful, well-running mom machine.
Abs? Where art thou?
If you are already a mom, you’ll know that after you have a baby, your abs sort of disappear for a bit and are replaced with a layer of skin/jelly. This is due to the fact that a human stretched you to the point where your ab muscles were stretched and even pulled apart from each other. Most women will suffer ab separation to some extent, and some even suffer from a condition called diastasis recti – where your abs are so separated that specific training in physio or even surgery is needed to get them back together. Here’s the thing about ab seperation: it gets worse if you try to work these muscles without them getting back to where they need to be. Doing crunches with seperated abs will not only make the situation worse, it can lead to a hernia or other organ prolapse. This is why it’s so important to head to physio and find out how and when you can start to build back your core strength.
The “right of passage” that we can all do without
Finally, the stigma that I hate the most – no, it’s not normal for moms to pee themselves forever after they’ve had a baby! Yes, incontinence is normal after pregnancy and birth, but you CAN fix this issue and live a wonderful, pee-pants-free life! Or here’s another one: sex doesn’t have to hurt, or suck, after having a baby! You can, and WILL orgasm from sex again. Your pelvic floor (the trampoline-like muscle mass that holds up your pelvic organs) is under stress both from the weight of your baby and from the pressure of contractions and pushing your baby out. If any other part of your body was injured at that level, no one would hesitate to seek out some therapy to heal appropriately, so pelvic floor physio should be no different. Also, contrary to many beliefs simply doing Kegels will not heal all cases of incontinence or bring back the firey pleasure of coitus. Its easier than you’d think to do a Kegel the wrong way and a pelvic floor physiotherapist can assist you in doing them right, along with provide other exercises you’ll need to heal properly. So protect your panties and get the help you need!
Have you suffered with any pelvic floor or core muscle injuries from pregnancy and birth? Have you gotten the help you need? If you have or are having a baby in Edmonton, leave a comment and I’ll hook you up with the info of the best pelvic floor Physio in our city!