Caring for your postpartum body

Caring for your postpartum body

“The traditional healthcare system provides better rehab protocols for sprained ankles than mothers after birth.” (GroCo)

Moms to be everywhere spend months upon months researching what to do and not to do throughout their pregnancy. Then they research some more about how to care for their baby. Fast forward to having their baby and seeing the doctor numerous times weighing, measuring, giving immunizations, and asking about how the baby is eating and sleeping. Then comes the 6 week mark, Mom has her check up, and that is about it. However, along the way different things may start to happen, things that we just assume are normal. Things that you chat with your friends about and go “OMG that happens to you too?”

One of the most common postpartum misconceptions is that it is normal to pee when coughing or sneezing. Approximately 1/3 to 1/2 of women will experience this symptom. This typically occurs due to pelvic floor muscle weakness. The pelvic floor is what stretches to support baby through pregnancy, and then allows baby to pass though during birth. By strengthening these muscles, you can help bring them back to their fully functional state. Even if you had a c-section, baby may not have passed through the pelvis, but those pelvic muscles still supported baby for 9 months. By strengthening your pelvic floor your symptoms should decrease. Pelvic floor physio therapy is a specialized branch that helps deal with this and any other pelvic health questions and concerns.

Diastus recti is another common occurrence postpartum and is not something women have to live with forever. Pressure from the uterus expanding during birth can cause the connective tissue to widen, which increases the space between the left and right side of the abdominal muscles. A quick way to determine this is to lay on your back, place your fingers just above your bellybutton and raise your head off the ground. You will notice a gap between the muscles that is about 2 fingers wide. Diastus recti is something that can get better on its own, however you can also improve this by strengthening your core muscles. The Transverse Abdominis is the deepest core muscles and one that really helps support those overstretched muscles. Seeing a Kinesiologist is a great place to start to get a variety of exercises to help build strength back in those abdominals.

Body aches and pain can occur for many reasons. Constant repetitive movements (feeding, lifting, carrying, looking down at baby) all add up and can cause imbalance in your postural muscles. Seeking out massage therapy can help manually relax these tight muscles and provide relief. Another thing Massage Therapy can help you with, is your c-section scar. Usually at the 6 week mark your RMT can start using different techniques to help break up the scar tissue and help the tissue properly heal. Which in return can help reduce pelvic and lower back pain.

While physically postpartum health is important, lets not forget the mental aspect as well. Baby blues is very common and very normal. Your hormone levels drop significantly within the first week, not to mention the lack of sleep and trying to figure out your new life as a Mom. Approximately 80% of new moms will deal with the baby blues, but within time this typically goes away. However for some, it doesn’t. This is what is called Postpartum Depression. While many women do not want to admit to having these intense feelings, it is important to seek help so you can get back to feeling like your normal self. Contact your Doctor or local counselling service for more information.

We can only do our best job of caring for others, when we first care for ourselves. Being a new mom is a stressful but wonderful time.

Take care Mamas,

Danica, RMT