I see a lot of patients post-natal for a variety of reasons (incontinence, pain, prolapse, diastasis recti, etc). The common theme of my discussions with these patients is how the body heals, and how long it takes after having a baby. It takes 12-18 months to heal after giving birth… read that sentence again… 12-18 months! For the first 6 weeks, it is not abnormal to have some mild leakage, or some feeling of heaviness, however, this should be resolved around 6 weeks after giving birth. If not, time to seek out the help of a pelvic floor physiotherapist.
In my experience, most women are in too much of a hurry to return to their previous level of activity and pre-baby body. Please realize the first 4 months, the body is slowly recovering, bringing back together tissue that has been stretched out for months leading up to giving birth. I recommend light activity only until 4 months post-natal; this means walking, stretching, yoga, bodyweight exercises. This means no weight lifting, no running, cross-fit, plyometrics, etc. This also means no planks, sit-ups, crunches, etc.
I know, this sounds like a long time wait to start to be active…it’s not. Think of it this way, imagine you have a knee or a shoulder injury, a significant one; let’s say you tore your ACL (the ligament that prevents the forward shifting of the lower leg bone on the thigh bone), or your rotator cuff (the muscles responsible for stabilizing the shoulder to allow it to move in all directions)… would you run a few weeks after that injury or go play baseball?? The answer is no, you’d realize you tore something major, and would rest it, then (hopefully) start to rehabilitate that area of the body.
Why is this not the case after giving birth? Being pregnant essentially “blows” out your core muscles … you stretch and split your abdominal muscles to make room for a growing baby, put excessive weight on your pelvic floor (which you’ve also probably never strengthened specifically), not to mention the trauma to the actual pelvic floor if you have a vaginal delivery. But, then, we expect to just bounce back into our previous activities and sports… Am I getting through to you? You must allow some healing to happen, rehabilitate your core, , respect what your body just went through, take your time! Remember 12-18 months!
If you’re not sure how to begin this process, come to see me for a women’s pelvic health assessment to learn safe exercises to do to rehabilitate your pelvic floor and core muscles post-natal to help you return to your previous level of activity…without pain, prolapse, or incontinence. See you soon!