Have you recently brought a tiny human into this world?
Are you waiting for that six week check up for your OB/midwives okay to resume exercise, sexual activity, and basically return to normal?
Delivering a baby…that’s essentially trauma to your body.
Your body has earned the time to heal. Respect the healing process
Looking to get right back into it all at 6 weeks? You may want to reconsider that timeline.
Check out some of our older blog posts on returning to exercise postpartum
How to return to running postpartum
But for now…what should you being doing in the first six weeks postpartum?
Ice ice baby
You may experience perineal pain following birth. About 75% of women experience pain 1 week postpartum and this pain typically resolves in 1-3 weeks (Cooklin, Amir, Jarman, Cullinane, & Donath, 2015).
Try icing the perineum on and off with an ice pack. Other options include heat if you find that more soothing to the body, sitz baths, warm water rinse, or a witch hazel frozen soaked pad. If you choose to use witch hazel just ensure you use another clean sanitary pad over the frozen one so the hazel is not actually contacting your perineum.
And of course, if you have persistent pain definitely seek the help of a trained pelvic floor specialist.
Taste the rainbow
No not snacking on skittles… although a treat here and there is well warranted for all the hard work you’re putting in.
Eat the rainbow…meaning a diet rich in nutrients and fiber.
Constipation management is absolutely essential immediately postpartum
28% of individuals postpartum reported constipation 8 weeks post delivery (Cooklin et al., 2015)
Straining places extra stress on your pelvic floor muscles which are quite sensitive and healing in the postpartum period. Excessive straining may put you at risk for pelvic organ prolapse symptoms and incontinence.
If you had a cesarean birth, your abdominal wall will be quite weak initially which makes evacuation difficult. A soft abdominal binder may be helpful in the early postpartum period.
Find your center
While we don’t advocate for hitting the gym one week after delivery, we do recommend starting to get in touch with your core and pelvic floor again.
Whether you delivered vaginally or cesarean, you can start with pelvic floor muscle activation AKA kegel exercises. You don’t have to go crazy with these but starting with a few minutes of practice per day is ideal.
If you’re unfamiliar with kegels best to ask a pelvic floor physical therapist, but here’s a quick briefing: https://hudsonvalleypt.com/2020/08/29/kegels-too-much-of-a-good-thing/
In addition, after vaginal delivery you can start basic deep abdominal activation.
Try this: take a breath in, as you breathe out, draw your lower belly back toward your spine like you’re zipping up tight jeans. This should be a gentle activation. Hold the activation for 10 seconds and don’t forget to breathe.
If you’ve delivered via cesarean, you’ll need to wait a bit longer to respect the healing process.
Six weeks isn’t the end of the journey. Your body has done something amazing. You’re resilient….but recovery can be a bit tricky.
Let a specialist lead the way. After your six week check up, a pelvic floor physical therapist will lead the way, assist in the recovery process, and help you safely meet your goals.