What signs to look out for & how to get the help you need!
“What postpartum plan??”
When I was pregnant, everyone would ask about my pregnancy and birth plan, but it was very rare that anyone asked me about my plan for the postpartum period. Even my OBGYN only scheduled one follow-up appointment at 6 weeks post-birth, and then I was pretty much off on my own. I was barely informed about what to expect specifically around my body & how it would heal from pregnancy and childbirth. Beyond looking out for excessive bleeding, there was no mention of what was “normal” or cause for concern in relation to my postpartum body.
In the months after giving birth, I thought a lot of aches and pains I felt were my new “normal” – a regular part of the birth and healing process. I had excruciating pain in my lower back and hips, and many of my other joints, which I felt while lying down, walking, or sitting – so, pretty much all the time. It felt like I could never get comfortable, like my hips were out of alignment somehow. My joints were still very loose, which I assumed was due to breastfeeding (and still producing extra relaxin), so I brushed it off for the time being.
Around 5 months postpartum, I started to think maybe something was actually wrong, especially with the deep hip pain I felt. I finally decided to do some research and confirmed my suspicions: that the pain I was feeling was in fact a sign that something was probably not right.
If you’ve been pregnant or given birth, I urge you to seek the help of a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist if you experience one more more of the following signs:
- Lower back/hip/pelvic pain
- Pelvic weakness/prolapse — feeling like your insides may “fall out”
- Incontinence – loss of or weakened bladder control.
- Diastasis Recti – separation of your ab muscles, more than 2 finger-widths
You’re not alone…
Did you know that 2 out of 3 moms have diastasis recti after 2 or more babies? Despite this knowledge, many women don’t seek the help they need. I heard that the average time it takes a mother to seek help for pelvic floor dysfunction is NINE YEARS after giving birth. (This obviously speaks to a MUCH DEEPER issue about lack of information, support, or acknowledgement around women’s health issues and our own prioritization – or lack thereof – in regards to our self-care). Sigh.
I saw a pelvic floor PT a few times, who I had also seen near the end of my pregnancy. She immediately could see that my hips were out of alignment, which was throwing my whole body off, and worked with me to get better aligned. She checked me for diastasis recti and confirmed that I had a mild separation. Most importantly, she worked with me to dust off the connections between my brain and abdominal/pelvic floor muscles. When I started, I had zero control over my muscles. But with targeted exercises, I began to see changes in my pelvic floor muscles.
Don’t have access to a Physical Therapist? No problem!
Not everyone will have access or the ability to visit a PT, but it doesn’t mean that you’re out of luck! Since I only worked with my PT every few weeks, I found an online program called MUTU System to do some at-home exercises as well. MUTU System is an online body-positive, medically recommended exercise program for mothers. Their 12-week program helps women find confidence, dust off those pathways between their brain and core/pelvic muscles, and regain an exercise routine that works around their demanding schedules.
As someone who struggles with consistent exercise in my own life, I find I like the format of the MUTU System. I’ll admit that I have had some weeks of being better or worse around my consistency with these exercises, but at around 20 minutes each, the daily exercises are easy to commit to, and are highly targeted and effective. They have a whole online community with other mothers if you’re looking to make deeper connections, and offer tons of resources, including helping you to check if you have diastasis recti. Whether you had a baby 3 months or 3 years ago, these exercises can help you, too. Check out their free download about the 10 things your doctor didn’t tell you.
If you’ve had any of the symptoms of Pelvic Floor dysfunction — pelvic/hip pain, separation, Incontinence, or overall weakness — what are you waiting for? Get yourself in to see a Pelvic Floor PT in your area, or take those 20 minutes a day and prioritize you & your body with MUTU System. Grab your own kit bag & sign up here!
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