Childbirth is a physically-demanding process. Though they try, no amount of birthing class instruction or self-help books can fully prepare an expectant mother for the demands of childbirth. Even though I did all I could do to prepare, the feeling of childbirth came as a surprise. Likewise, postpartum has its own demands and surprises. Moms, though they know life will be an adjustment when a baby arrives, they may not recognize the adjustments their own bodies will go through. With all the rocking, diaper changes, and time spent hypnotized by the cuteness of a new baby, a new mom may find it hard to focus on her own postpartum recovery. Supporting this is our culture of expecting moms to be superhuman. Women can raise babies, work full-time, cook, clean, and organize the household’s activities… all on a good solid 3 hours of sleep.
Most women expect recovery from childbirth to include weight loss. I read the book “Bringing up Bebe” and in it author, Pamela Druckerman, talks about how French women are expected to get their figure back and usually by the third month postpartum! Tres bien! The new mom, however, may not expect some of the other potential postpartum difficulties including the following:
- low endurance
- uterine contractions
- overstretched abdominals (diastasis recti)
- back, hip, pelvic, and/or neck pain
If you are a new mom, you should not expect the above problems to linger. This is NOT normal. Ask for help. Specifically, ask for a physical therapist. I’m always surprised to find moms in therapy that have had ongoing problems following childbirth, and it took years for them to get into physical therapy to finally start addressing them properly. If your hip still hurts, your back started hurting and never stopped, or you lose a little urine when you jump or run, someone can help you… and that someone is a physical therapist. Seek out a PT that specializes in women’s health and orthopaedics. A PT can teach you how to manage these conditions and give excellent consultation on exercises that are most appropriate for postpartum recovery. We give so much attention to bringing up bebe that we have forgotten that we’re bringing up mama too. Let’s not forget to give moms the attention they deserve and not just on Mother’s Day! Now that I’ve been through it, I know I won’t forget!