Redefining Your Postpartum Journey: Why you must address issues from pregnancy and childbirth NOW (Part 2 of 6)
In Part 1 of this blog series we talked about why postpartum exercise is so different than ‘regular’ exercise.
Yes, it’s different. But what happens if you don’t actually DO things differently?
Well…potentially a lot.
Now,we are not trying to freak you out here. This is not a life-or-death situation, but it is something that can change how your physical body feels for the rest of your life. Imagine this – using the analogy from the previous post – you tear your rotator cuff muscles in your shoulder, don’t do Physical Therapy or rehab training and just let your injury ‘heal itself’. You would likely end up with a really messed up shoulder! That shoulder then causes you pain, creates tension and pain in other parts of your body that are trying hard to compensate for the messed up shoulder, and you might start avoiding the shoulder altogether because it’s so painful. Then, add 20 years onto those compensation patterns and pain. Yikes. And then the pain makes you angry and frustrated and sad. That is a recipe for a super painful LIFE. Super Yikes.
Ok, so that sounds like an awful downward spiral, but do you get where we are coming from?!
The physical impacts from pregnancy and childbirth don’t just disappear. We have to address them head-on, as soon as you are aware they exist. How do you know if you have these issues? Book an appointment with your OB / Gyn or a Pelvic Floor PT and get a definitive answer! Awareness is the KEY to health. Once you are aware of an issue, you can put your brain power to fixing it rather than feeling crappy. Don’t feel crappy! You deserve to feel AWESOME!
But let’s be honest – in motherhood sometimes it takes a lot of convincing for us to do something for ourselves. If you need a reason to actually DO something for yourself, here we go:
What are some of the ‘residual effects’ of pregnancy and childbirth happens if we don’t address postpartum issues?
- Shallow breathing – That sweet little baby in your belly pushed up on your diaphragm as they were growing and made it hard to breathe. Your body compensated – because we have to breathe! – and created a shallow breathing pattern (also known as breathing high in your chest) that stuck around into postpartum. Did you know that shallow breathing actually sets off our fight or flight response? And did you know that deep breathing is the trigger for our rest and digest response? (Also, we don’t need help setting off our fight or flight response in motherhood, am I right?!?)
- Prolapse – Prolapse is essentially when the bladder, uterus or rectum fall into the vaginal wall and create outward pressure on the pelvic floor. You can see more about it here straight from a Pelvic Floor PT we trust and adore.
- Peeing when you jump / sneeze / laugh / cough – Leaking pee (or poo or gas) can be a sign of pelvic floor weakness, and thus core weakness too.
- Pelvic pain / Hip pain / Low-, mid-, upper- back pain / Neck pain – SO many of these issues can be related to core and pelvic floor weakness! Body parts don’t have to be directly connected to the pelvis to be affected by pelvic floor, hip and core weakness. And if you’ve been around me long enough, you know that body parts don’t work in isolation. It’s all an interconnected web of fascination!
- Ab separation (Diastasis Recti) & non-recovery from ab separation – If your core weakness is not addressed completely AND your rehab doesn’t include retraining the diaphragm and pelvic floor to work properly along with your core, you can prolong your recovery from diastasis recti, and potentially make it even worse by doing the wrong exercises. (Want to know how to retrain those muscles? Learn the exact exercises to help you get there.)
- Poor posture – when we don’t address the forwardly-rotated pregnancy posture, and then layer on postpartum posture (hips tucked under – aka the duck walk, shoulders rolled forward from adoring / holding / feeding our sweet babies, head jutted forward with our chins out), we’re making our muscles work even harder to just hold us upright! And posture leads to all of these:
- Carpal tunnel & tennis elbow – aka ‘baby wrist and baby elbow’ – I like the ‘aka’ names better because it’s true! We hold our babies with our arms rotated in an awkward position, and the elbow and wrist pain is a symptom of the bigger issue – forward shoulder rotation. Our shoulders are rotated forward during pregnancy, and then we reinforce the forward rotation as new moms by adding load (ie our babies) onto it. Our elbows and wrists do not like that. What to do? Stretch your chest to create more flexibility and strengthen your upper back.
- Headaches – this can be a combo of all of the above – shallow breathing pattern, weak core, poor posture, weak upper back, forward head posture and forward rotation of the shoulders. I’ve seen so many moms with chronic headaches because of one or several of these issues. If you have headaches, it’s worth a look into where your body might be compensating!
- Mom butt – Yep, it’s actually a thing! You know how your butt totally disappears after childbirth? It’s because your posture adjusted to pregnancy and your hips shifted under during pregnancy and childbirth – even if you had a c-section. With this forward and under shift, the glutes stop firing as they are meant to, you start clenching those glutes in an effort to keep your pelvis stable, and then you get the ‘mom butt’ look. A flat, sloping, sad butt. The great news is, you can get it back! You just have to strengthen the muscles to support great posture and build those glutes back up. Being aware of how you bend over can dramatically improve your mom butt too. 🙂 As our teacher Sarah Duvall, DPT always says…”Great glutes = a great pelvic floor!”
Let these be an inspiration to get started NOW on your postpartum recovery. Seek out a Pelvic Floor PT to get checked out if you are curious if your core and pelvic floor issues could be causing other issues that have had you scratching your head. You might just find the answer you’ve been looking for all along!
If you’re ready to get strong NOW, check out exactly how to do it. We take you step by step through the whole process. You deserve this mama!