Ever since Mary gave birth to her third child she noticed “down there” was just not the same. For one thing sex was just not what it used to be. It was uncomfortable and it almost felt as if something was in the way. She noticed a heaviness in her vagina which seem to worsen during exercise or after several hours on her feet at work. Not to mention the time she had to sneak out of Zumba class after peeing on herself from all the jumping. When she questioned her doctor about her symptoms, they told her this was simply a side effect of child birth. Mary was frustrated that her symptoms were worsening and there was no help in sight. There had to be help somewhere…but where?
There are so many Moms out there like Mary. It’s estimated that 1 in 3 women of all ages-even young athletes- experience incontinence and over 50% of women have pelvic organ prolapse. Yet these issues are not discussed openly and given the attention they need.
The postpartum period is crucial in catching some of these issues. However, it is also the time Moms focus all their attention on their baby, and little if any on themselves. This affects so many women, it only seems logical that somewhere along the line, someone would had Mom’s back, and offer Moms the resources and support they need. But, in most cases it just isn’t there…
Moms have their baby, return to their doctor at the follow up visit, and are typically then given clearance to return to all their activities, whether its exercise, intercourse or physical activity with their kids.
At Indy Women PT, we work to close this gap and show Moms the right way to get back to what they love- safely, and with the right progression.
Here are some things you may not hear from anyone else:
- Pelvic organ prolapse is when the uterus, bladder and or rectum start to slip downward into the vagina wall. Some women do not even know they have it, while others may feel a “dragging” sensation or heaviness along the vagina. Other symptoms may include painful intercourse, lower abdominal pain, incomplete voiding or leaking drops of urine after voiding once you stand up from the toilet. Below is an example of a bladder prolapse. The image on the left is a picture of “normal” positioning, and the picture on the right shows the bladder starting to protrude along the vaginal wall. Why is this important to know? If you engage in activities such as lifting weights at the gym or even running, those activities overtime could make the prolapse worse, resulting in possible surgery down the road, which can lead to other issues as well. So learning how to manage a prolapse in the early stages is extremely important to prevent future complications.
- While leaking urine can be common after having a baby, it should never be considered as acceptable! Research suggests that up to 60% of Moms have complaints of leakage the first year after having a baby. Some Moms think this is normal after kids, No, No and No! Leakage during exercise, playing with our kids or even with coughing or sneezing is a red flag that our body needs help. It’s not just about the kegel either, it’s about training the core and body as a unit. Learning the principles of breathing, alignment and proper muscle engagement will give the bladder support while promoting less abdominal pressure, resulting in less if no leakage.
The reason you have a tummy pooch or your stomach domes when you do sit ups or just getting out of bed is due to a Diastasis Recti. This is when the abdominal muscles have separated along the navel area from the weight of carrying a baby leaving behind a gap.
Latest research has shown that having the “gap” is not quite as important as how the muscles below the gap are functioning. There is definitely a progression with regard to exercises that should be followed when restoring these muscles in the post-partum period. The goal is not “never do a crunch again” but instead to learn the right way to engage the muscles so you can return to the exercises you enjoy doing without restrictions.
- By engaging in those planks, burpees and sit ups too fast after baby, you can make the previous 3 issues, leakage, diastasis recti and prolapse WORSE not better! I understand that Moms have the desire to rush back into fitness after having a baby. However Moms need to give themselves permission to let their bodies heal, and learn the exercises that will promote healing, not more stress for their bodies!
While the Body Boot Camps for new Moms in the community have good intentions to give Moms support while providing exercise programs, in most cases these instructors just do not have the expertise to screen everyone like they should. Starting exercises too soon or too strenuous can defeat the purpose of “trying to get your body back.” It’s so much more important to regain your FUNCTION and STRENGTH before squeezing back into those skinny jeans!!
- Scars from surgeries such as C-sections or episiotomies during labor and delivery can cause pain and restrict your mobility, even months and years afterward! As a result of surgery, scars in some cases can become adhered or “stuck” which can cause pain with activity. After undergoing a C-section, some women may feel the need to protect the area, resulting in poor posture and limited lumbar mobility. This could lead to low back pain, or pelvic pain from decreased mobility over time. Scar tissue massage as well as the right exercises can decrease or eliminate symptoms that can be common after c-section surgery.
Episiotomies will also leave behind scar tissue, which could make intercourse painful. The pelvic floor muscles can become tight and painful as well. Scar massage can help alleviate the pain along with learning how to relax the pelvic floor muscles to regain normal tone.
The number one question I hear all the time is “why didn’t anyone tell me there was help?’
Whether you are a runner, weight lifter, into Pilates or just love jumping on the trampoline with your kids, Indy Women PT want to bridge that gap between having baby and getting you back to where you want to be!
We will be offering Post Baby Workshops over the next couple months to help Moms understand ways they can return to their pre baby activities.
Please call or email me if you would like to attend the next workshop, or just have questions in general.
Check out our website at indywomenpt.com for more info!