Most women are unprepared for postpartum recovery. While an OGBYN determines at 6 weeks whether or not a mother can return to normal activity, this does not mean the body has recovered from pregnancy and birth.
Approximately, 1 in 4 women struggle with pelvic floor issues postpartum, making recovery even more difficult.
The First Weeks Home
Following the birth of a child, there is a 5-5-5 rule. This is where women spend five days in the bed, five days on the bed, and five days around the bed. This idea helps women to adequately rest, and not jump back into normal routines so quickly. This rest will also help to alleviate the pressure that can be placed on your pelvic floor as it recovers.
For some women, this rule may be difficult, as they have busy households and are busy individuals. It is vital postpartum, however, to take time to connect with your new child, breathe, and rest. This will also help you to establish new routines and boundaries with excited visitors.
In Chinese culture, the first month following birth is called the golden month. During this time, mothers stay home and bond with their child. This time is also vital for the body to recover; as a woman’s uterus contracts down, she also continues to bleed, and must either support the recovery of her perineum or c-section.
By no means is a woman’s body totally recovered after 6 weeks, but this is typically when her doctor will clear her for normal activities. One such activity is exercise. A woman’s body has grown a baby for the past 9 months, and then undergone a grueling process to deliver that baby. Due to this, her body has changed dramatically, and she must ease back into exercise with this in mind.
It is atypical for a woman’s body to bounce back after birth, especially as her priorities have shifted. Although many women may struggle accepting their new body during this time, it is vital to offer your body grace, appreciate what it has given you, recognize the immense strain that it has undergone, nourish it, and exercise according to its needs.
Different aspects of exercise that a woman should be aware of are proper abdominal exercises, as well as pelvic floor exercises. If a woman has had a separation of the abdominal muscles, or diastasis recti, traditional ab workouts can exacerbate the separation. Instead, she must perform specific exercises to aid in closing the gap between those muscles. Many of these exercises will also help her in strengthening her pelvic floor.
How to Aid the Body in Its Recovery
A standard belief that many individuals hold is that after having a baby, a woman has less bladder control. This is known as incontinence, and 1 in 3 women struggle with incontinence postpartum. They are also twice as likely to experience incontinence if they delivered vaginally. This is a sign that the pelvic floor has been weakened, and unless properly treated, can be a prevalent issue in their life.
Although there are surgeries that can remedy urinary incontinence, there are inherent risks involved. In fact, many recalls have been made on bladder hammocks/slings, resulting in further surgeries and harm. It is recommended that individuals instead work with a physical therapist that specializes in the pelvic floor.
When working with a pelvic floor specialist, you are more likely to improve your muscle strength and decrease your episodes of urinary incontinence. Other added benefits that a physical therapist provides for women postpartum include a reduction in pain with intercourse, pelvic floor pain, organ prolapse, symphysis pain, and tailbone pain.
Oftentimes, individuals don’t meet with a physical therapist until the problem is so bad that it’s interfering with their everyday lives. While seeking the aid of a specialist is always beneficial, don’t wait to take your health into your own hands. Taking preventative measures to work with a specialist can help aid you in your postpartum recovery, decreasing your pain and helping restore your body to full strength.
Birthing children can take its toll on the body, and it is important to take the necessary time to rest and recover. Once you are cleared for exercise by your practitioner, seek out the aid of a specialized physical therapist to help regain your pelvic floor strength. This will help your body to heal, strengthen, and ultimately contribute to better outcomes.