(Image source: https://www.runnersworld.com/health-injuries/a20866684/10-weird-things-no-one-tells-you-about-when-returning-to-running-post-baby/)
Is the 6 week mark after having your baby really a green light to go back to all pre-pregnancy activities?? As a Mom of four and a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist, I would say with encouragement it is more of a YELLOW LIGHT: Please proceed with caution!
Why? A 6 week check in with either your midwife or family doctor may lead to the conclusion that all “looks down there”, but this may not mean that either your pelvic floor or abdominal wall is ready to do the heavy lifting of all pre-pregnancy activities. Initial healing and basic function is a great start, but I recommend additional testing!
Ask yourself: Are you symptomatic?? Do you have any of the 3 P’s?
Do you Pee with any activity – lifting, sneezing, cough??
Do you have any Pressure or heaviness inside the vagina or rectum ?
Do you have Pain in your pelvis, lower back, hips or tailbone?
Your body is amazing and changed considerably to support the growth and nourishment of a new beautiful little being. These changes occurred over 9 months, and although initial healing and recovery has started successfully at 6 weeks it can take up to a year to restore your pelvic floor and core. Even if you are NOT symptomatic, pelvic organs are vulnerable to the daily pressures of life. Lifting your new baby and all that goes into taking care of that little bundle is a lot of work for your pelvic floor and core.
There is a vast range of information and messages out there for new moms, workouts of every “flavour” from high intensity to gentle yoga, so what is right for you? The truth is… it depends.
Ideally, at 6 weeks – if you are not experiencing any of the 3 P”s – then move forward gradually, starting with lower impact activities. Recover your pelvic floor – this means making sure you know how to contract, lift and hold as well as relax your pelvic floor and be able to incorporate your pelvic floor contraction while doing other movements.
If you find you are not able to contract, lift, hold, and as importantly, relax your pelvic floor, I call YELLOW LIGHT – meaning caution! Have the function of your pelvic floor assessed by a pelvic health physiotherapist prior to proceeding. If you have any of the 3 P’s I call RED LIGHT – stop! Have your pelvic floor assessed so that you can start on a program designed specifically for you! Strengthen and retrain your pelvic floor and reduce the risk of further pelvic floor dysfunction or injury while moving towards your fitness goals.
In a perfect world as a Mom and a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist I would recommend every new Mother have a check in with a pelvic health physiotherapist at least once, ideally -6 weeks after you have had your baby to be sure you have a stable platform to leap from without the risk of leakage, prolapse or injury!
My hope is that the New Moms don’t compare notes prioritizing how soon they return to their fitness classes, half marathon or double unders, but instead share in community with each other the trials and joys of motherhood, talk openly about their pelvic floors, and support each other in seeking help with any of the 3 Ps as they make the journey to returning to the activity and sport of their choice!