I have always lived an active life and people have been surprised how gently I have taken the first few weeks of my recovery after the birth of my second child. I kept hearing ‘oh I thought you would be straight back at it’ etc. But the fact is I love my ‘baby bubble’ and those precious early days I will never get back. It is also really important to allow your body to heal. I take my recovery even more seriously as fitness is my lively hood. So if I start back to vigorously too soon, I risk injuring myself or long term irreversible damage to my body that could potentially end my career in the fitness industry.
But by 5 weeks after the birth of my second child I was definitely starting to feel the ‘itch’ to get this body moving. I actually feel great, but all I have been doing for those past 5 weeks is gentle walks around the block (like 5-20mins max), pelvic floor & abdominal bracing. I had a really great pregnancy and birth, but during the birth I did have a second degree tear & minor post-partum haemorrhaging. Compared to the birth of my first, I feel like I have rebounded much quicker. I have good energy levels (taking an iron supplement), getting reasonable sleep, bleeding stopped, no pains anywhere. So imagine my surprise & frustration at my 6 week check-ups!
It is an insurance requirement for Fitness Professionals that postnatal clients get their 6 week check up from their GP, so off I went for mine. I was a little surprised that mine only consisted of a contraception talk &pap smear. I’m sure some doctors are more thorough, but I assumed we would be looking at my iron levels, checking my tear (she probably did this with the pap), talking about PND, breastfeeding, pelvic floor or abdominal separation. So just to be sure I booked in a post-natal assessment with a Women’s Health Physio. I knew I had abdominal separation, so that was ok, but she had strict instructions on no planks, push upsetc until it came closer together.
But then we check my pelvic floor. Turns out this was incredibly poor, even tho it felt like everything was functioning as it should & internally I could feel the muscles contracting correctly. So this changes many of the exercises and approach I would take to my workouts.
So I can’t stress enough how important it is to get these 2 things properly checked. Imagine the average healthy women, had a great pregnancy & birth, feeling great with baby and is ready to exercise. She thinks everything is fine and gets gung hoe back into her training! The risks are she could increase her abdominal separation, which in the long run could cause persistent back pain or even make her look pregnant when she is not because those muscles aren’t supporting her internal organs. And worst case with her pelvic floor could suffer a prolapse or continence issues. This basically means that the internal muscles will come out of your body. And none of us want to be wearing nappies when we are older! So if you had a straight forward birth, minor or major complications, this could also be you or you could be higher need of a longer recovery period.
But am I feeling frustrated? Absolutely! But I have to practice what I would advise other Mums to do. We were born to move and I love everything about an active lifestyle. I want to start rebuilding my strength & reshape my body now but I have to slow it down a notch so that none of the above happen to me or I have to stop teaching my classes. But I have to question what is 4 more weeks recovery now as opposed to long term damage. It takes 9 months to make a baby, so it will take AT LEAST 9 months to regain my pre-pregnancy body.
So embrace the squishy bits, take it gently for a few more weeks, see a physio, do your rehab exercises, speak to a pre/post natal exercise specialist & nourish your body to assist the healing process.
Philippa Bowman, July 2015
Nurtured Fitness Owner
Pre & Post Natal Fitness Expert & Trained Babywearing Consultant