Hello Joyful Birthing! My name is Darcie Pervier– I am a very personal person by nature. It makes me laugh to think my passion in life is to help girls and women learn about their bodies inside and out. That means sharing with the world, my rocky recovery from child birth. I delivered both of my children vaginally while never getting past 8.5 cm….. Need I say more!??? I have been a physical therapist for over 16 years, I am a mom of 2 and recovering from postpartum body disruption. I know about the pelvic floor and postpartum recovery personally and professionally. Here is some of what I’d love to share with you as owner of Newburyport Wellness, LLC, fellow mom and healthcare professional.
Proper postpartum recovery is a long term investment in your health.
Giving birth whether vaginally or via c-section is no easy task. The consequences are different for all of us and the side effects might not be noticed right away. It may take weeks, months or years to identify some of the ramifications of giving birth. Taking care of your body as a mom is more important than ever and there is no short term fix. Ignoring small symptoms or taking short cuts can lead to back pain, hip pain, incontinence, pelvic pain or organ prolapse. NOTE: Recovery does not mean pre-baby body in 8 weeks or less!
The body undergoes fantastic transformation to accommodate a growing fetus.
You may have heard that your ligaments become lax. But, what does that mean? It means that the tethers that help to hold your bones together loosen. As your belly grows, you lose whatever inner core stabilization technique you had. As your body grows, the load on the pelvic floor grows significantly. In addition, your center of balance (and therefore posture) shift. This means that your muscles have to function in a new way to do all the things you took for granted prior to pregnancy.
The myth of a 6 week recovery…. Your body may have healed externally, but you have spent upwards of 10 months with altered hormone levels and movement patterns. Don’t expect your body to magically return to ‘normal’ overnight.
After so many months compensating for a growing belly our bodies rarely remember the “old” posture we had pre- pregnancy. Pelvic floor muscles can be torn during a vaginal delivery and clearly abdominal muscles are torn during a c-section. It is important to treat scar tissue to encourage proper healing. Our ligaments remain lax post delivery, especially if we are nursing. Despite the common notion that we are ready to return to prior activity at 6 weeks, there is really a lot that still needs to happen to truly heal. Yes, for most of us the wounds are closed, but there is still a lot happening internally.
Muscles of the inner core include your transverse abs and pelvic floor. They are stretched and therefore poorly functioning post delivery. It is no wonder we are at risk for back pain when you consider that they often don’t activate appropriately after childbirth. Most women start to work on their “core” by doing traditional abdominal work…. This is not working the right muscles in the right way.
If Not Crunches, Planks and Kegels, Then What?
You might need specialized training to get the pelvic floor muscles to work well. This means you need to redefine your optimal posture post baby first. Think of your inner core like a connection of links or parts of a machine. They do not function independently. Therefore, spending the time to train your abs or doing Kegels endlessly is futile to retraining a working system. Working with a trained physical therapist who can assess your individual posture and pelvic floor integrity post delivery is the first step to optimizing your recovery. At Newburyport Wellness, LLC, we teach clients how to re-establish a connection between the muscles of the inner core. Then we train the muscles in different positions that simulate the things you do.
The reality is most of us are overwhelmed with life after childbirth. Our needs are often pushed to the side. Women typically loose track of their own health just when they need to focus on it the most. It is ok to take the time to care for yourself.