Last week a new, nine-week postpartum client expressed to me that she feels heaviness in her pelvis. She already had her six week follow-up visit—receiving permission to resume all regular activities and exercise—and her obstetrician said her discomfort was ‘normal’ and to give her body time to heal. Sounds counterproductive right? She assumed this is typical postpartum discomfort, that’s what the doctor said…and it’s her first baby, she doesn’t know otherwise.
This heaviness is not normal nine weeks postpartum, but rather a side effect of childbirth that needs to be addressed.
Cosmopolitan magazine published a honest and insightful article earlier this week, “Millions of Women are Injured During Childbirth. Why Aren’t Doctors Diagnosing Them?” Yes, the headline is a little dramatic, but it got our attention. Postpartum recovery is a real thing, please don’t take it lightly. This article does a great job bringing awareness to topics many woman don’t want to talk about, but we have to talk about them and seek help, or we’ll continue to suffer in silence.
Childbirth injuries and postpartum pain are common, but they should NOT be the new normal. Urinary incontinence, pain during intercourse, back pain, tailbone pain, pelvic pain, feeling heaviness in pelvis, prolapse bladder, muscle tears, soft tissue tears, numbness, cesarean scar discomfort/numbness, hairline fractures in pubic bone, or excessively tight muscles in hip capsules are examples of common childbirth injuries or postpartum pain. These issues may potentially go undiagnosed and/or untreated after childbirth, especially since they could surface AFTER your six week checkup.
“Last August, researchers from the University of Michigan likened childbirth to running a marathon — only before a marathon, you train — after giving 68 women MRIs seven weeks after birth. The MRIs showed that 29 percent of them had evidence of fractures they never even knew they had in their pubic bones, while 41 percent had undiagnosed tears in their pelvic floor muscles, which wrap around the vagina and anus. Childbirth is a well-studied traumatic experience for women’s bodies, yet modern medicine still leaves far too many mothers debilitated.”
How To Prepare for Childbirth, Recovery & Beyond?
- Expecting moms, if you are experiencing a healthy pregnancy it’s extremely beneficial to have a prenatal fitness program that focuses on strength training to prepare your body for labor and delivery. A marathon training program is 16-20 weeks long, it’s never too late to begin training for birth.
- Once your baby is born, seek a script and recommendation for a Women’s Health Specialist. (A WHS is a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic pain/dysfunction, a regular physical therapist may not have the experience or knowledge to treat such issues). In other countries, going to physical therapy is standard practice after delivering a baby, vaginally or via surgery. If you’re in Chicago, check out AMC’s trusted and recommended Women’s Health Specialist here – they’re the best of the best.
- Even if you received the green light to return to exercise, and stayed active through your entire pregnancy, seek out a postnatal recovery exercise program in your area, like AMC’s From the Core: Postnatal Recovery class. Your body just went through a traumatic event, muscles are stretched and weakened; it’s imperative to restore and rebuild core muscle strength before returning to your regular pre-pregnancy exercise routine. “Returning to exercise” is relative post-baby. Running and lifting heavy weights should be avoided (for a few months) and added gradually AFTER rebuilding core strength and addressing any postpartum issues.
- If you have older children and still experiencing any of the childbirth injuries mentioned above, seek help. A knowledgeable Women’s Health therapist can diagnose and help treat your issues. When in doubt, seek a second or third opinion. Knowledge is power; empower yourself.
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