Mothering; Are you caring for yourself as much as you are for your child?
I am sure that is the last thing you want to hear, especially from someone who has no human babies and only dogs for her ‘children’. But in my last several years of treating many moms, I want to talk about a common issue I try to address with every client as they are recovering from childbirth.
The United States has some terrible habits when it comes to pregnancy, delivery, and the recovery process. In the US, approximately 700-900 women die from pregnancy or delivery related causes. Another 65,000 come close to dying. This is nearly 6x more than other developed nations. Then, even after a successful delivery, the patient can be sent home without support.
“Home visits are provided in some settings; however, currently, most women in the United States must independently navigate the postpartum transition until the traditional postpartum visit (4–6 weeks after delivery). This lack of attention to maternal health needs is of particular concern given that more than one-half of pregnancy-related deaths occur after the birth of the infant” (ACOG)
Did you know that a c-section is considered a major surgery yet is one of the only major surgeries that does not consistently cover home health assistance in part of its recovery?
In many other countries, it is a STANDARD of care for women 6 weeks postpartum to be evaluated and treated by a physical therapist specially trained in the rehabilitation of new moms. The United States is behind the curve in the care for our new mothers.
You are not just going home to recover. You are going home with a baby. You came out of the hospital with a full-time job of bending, carrying, lifting, breastfeeding, waking up in the middle of the night. That’s not recovery, that is work!
The mistake I see most women make is not taking the time away from childcare duties to work on healing themselves. This is WAY easier said than done. But, the more you can care for yourself in healing from this truly traumatic bodily change, the more you can do later on with your kids.
You should be able to go run, jump, play, lift your kids- all without pain and all without feeling you are not strong enough to do so.
A physical therapist specializing in postpartum recovery will screen for several things: pelvic floor function, diastasis recti or abdominal core function, scar tissue from tearing or from c-section incision, joint instability, and several other factors depending on symptoms.
The pelvic floor can be treated to control continence, heal scar tissue, control bladder habits, improve any pain or discomfort with return to SEX.
Diastasis recti or core function can be treated to resolve any back pain, hip pain, weakness felt with carrying, bending, or lifting your kids.
Scar tissue can be treated to improve any bladder pain, pain with sex, abdominal pain.
All of these issues are typically very easily solved with a few sessions of physical therapy within a few months of a delivery. Especially if you are finding it difficult to return to your prior workout routines or energy levels. Just because you have had a child or multiple children does not mean you can’t go back to doing whatever it is that keeps yourself healthy and strong.
You CAN cough/laugh/sneeze without leaking!
You CAN return to weightlifting or CrossFit!
You CAN start running again!
You can pick your kids up and carry them, you can lift their car seats and strollers.
You can also get on the floor and play with them, you can go outside and play with them- you are unrestricted in their lives.
You should be able to do all of these things and whatever you want to do; the best way to start is with proper rehab …just like any other major surgery or procedure.
Follow me on Instagram for more information @Bri_mccormick.pt.dpt
ACOG. ACOG Committee Opinion. Presidential Task Force on Redefining the Postpartum Visit – The Committee on Obstetric Practice. 2018.
Bo, Erikson. Focus on Infants During Childbirth Leaves US Moms In Danger. NPR.org. 2017.
World Health Organization. Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health. Geneva: WHO; 2013.