Is This Normal? 5 Answers To Questions About Your Postpartum Body
Posted January 3, 2020 by Guest Poster -
Ladies (and gentlemen, don’t want to assume anything here), despite having given birth to five humans and dealing with all the postpartum joy that comes with it, I wholeheartedly acknowledge that I am not a medical professional.
A few weeks ago I was chatting with a woman who IS a professional (a Doctor of Physical Therapy) and she mentioned to me that she had just seen a patient and helped her with her postpartum issues.
My mind was blown.
I had never in my life thought about going to Physical Therapy to help with all those post-pregnancy issues.
I asked Alynna Woodbury from North Platte Physical Therapy if she would write a guest post for me and she was happy to oblige.
Pregnancy is a such a bizarre and beautiful process and congratulations on bringing a human…I mean an ACTUAL living breathing PERSON into this world.
Over the past nineish months, your body has changed in nearly every single way.
- Your hormones have been running wild.
- Your boobs have grown into watermelons.
- You have had to pee every 5 minutes.
- Your ankles have swollen and your back has hurt.
Now, at the end of this wild journey here you are holding this tiny human outside of your body instead of inside, and it is beautiful and wonderful and terrifying all at the same time.
Here you are and your new body looks different and feels different and you can’t help but wonder…
Is this normal?
Here are the top 5 things that you are probably wondering about, but may not feel comfortable asking.
- Going to the bathroom just got really…different. Whether you had a vaginal or caesarean birth or God forbid you tore and have stitches holding together your lady parts, going to the bathroom after giving birth is super intimidating. Despite this being weird and sometimes painful, it is normal for your bathroom habits to change for a while. My suggestion is to use the heck out of the squirt bottle they gave you in the hospital, it is an absolute godsend. Oh, take stool softeners, trust me, you don’t want to be straining.
- Speaking of peeing… it is NOT normal to leak when you cough, sneeze, laugh, etc. I repeat: IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW MANY BABIES YOU HAVE HAD OR HOW OLD YOU ARE, YOU SHOULD NOT LEAK URINE! While this is NOT normal it IS unfortunately very common. Hold on let me get on my soapbox…This issue is not being treated as much as it should because women as a whole are poorly educated on this topic by our mothers, grandmothers, etc. You CAN and should do something about this. It all comes down to a group of muscles called your pelvic floor. These are a group of muscles with some extremely important jobs first of which is to help you pee when you want to and hold it in when you don’t. During the birthing process, those muscles undergo some MAJOR TRAUMA and sometimes shut down, but the great thing about muscles is that you can train them! Just like any other muscle in the body you can make them stronger… think Keagals. If you are doing Keagals and not improving, I highly suggest seeing a physical therapist who specializes in women’s health (like me) for guidance because a lot of women don’t do them correctly.
- So, your body doesn’t seem to have bounced back like you thought it would? In the movies and magazines, you see celebrities walk out of the hospital with their pre-baby body back magically. Don’t worry, this isn’t reality. In reality, it can take up to a year for your body to return to its previous state. Cut your body some slack. It just made a person and it needs time to recover. I was just like most of you, eager to get back to my pre-baby weight, so I get it. But, I need you to remember that before you head to the gym it is important to have all of the facts. DO NOT start any high impact exercises for an absolute minimum of 6 weeks. Preferably not until after your doctor clears you to. Remember the muscles that keep you from peeing your pants? They also hold up all of your organs and they need time to recover and go back to their previous position before you start doing any running, jumping, etc. If you don’t give them adequate time to recover you are at a higher risk for a pelvic organ prolapse. Picture your bladder, rectum, or uterus falling out of your vagina. Also, if you are breastfeeding, be careful about dieting too much. Women that are breastfeeding may not lose that last 5 to 10 pounds until they have stopped lactating and keep in mind it takes an additional 500 calories per day to feed that beautiful baby. If you cut calories too much your milk supply will suffer. PS If breastfeeding drink tons and TONS of water.
- Maybe you have noticed that sex isn’t the same as it was, or maybe you are still too terrified to try it. It is normal for things to be different or even a little bit uncomfortable for a little while. It is advised to wait 6 weeks or until you see your doctor for your post-natal visit before resuming sexual activity. This is mostly just to make sure everything is adequately healed before causing any further trauma to your vagina. If things continue to be painful you may have developed muscular tightness or scar tissue. This can easily be treated by your friendly women’s health physical therapist (ahem like me).
- Finally, it is absolutely normal to have a lot of different emotions which can change at the drop of a hat. You are sleep deprived, trying to take care of your traumatized body, AND caring for a brand new baby (and maybe a few other kids too). Also, your hormones are trying to figure out what the heck is going on. Nobody can blame you for feeling the way you feel. That being said, postpartum depression is a very real thing. 1 in 9 new moms suffer from postpartum depression. Symptoms of postpartum depression include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or being overwhelmed, crying excessively or for no reason, moodiness, irritability, anger, persistent doubt about our ability to care for your baby or thoughts of harming yourself or your baby. If you have any of these symptoms you should seek medical attention from your doctor or a mental health provider.
The moral of the story here is to give yourself time and cut your body some slack.
It has worked hard and needs you to give it the care that it needs so go take care of that baby and take care of yourself because you are amazing and your body has just done something incredible.
Questions or Concerns about your postpartum body?
You can reach out to Alynna Woodbury, PT, DPT at North Platte Physical Therapy at (307)234-2662 Monday-Friday 7am-1pm or simply comment below!
Alynna Woodbury has her doctorate in physical therapy and studied at the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND. She also has additional training in women’s health including pregnancy, postpartum, and pelvic health. She is the mother to two girls ages 3 and 5 so ladies, she knows what she’s talking about!