Postpartum Healing Tips by Alicia Roberts, MSPT (formerly Willoughby)
Congratulations! Your body just went through a lot to bring your baby earthside. Here are some essential things to know about postpartum healing.
- First, as long as you are still bleeding, you need to treat your body as if you were bleeding from an external wound: rest, good nutrition and hydration. The more you rest now, the better you will feel in the next months and even years to come. Move your body for the purpose of movement but limit walking to 10-15 minutes at a time. It is important to get on top of any constipation to decrease excessive pelvic floor pressure and tension that can delay healing. If you feel aching/pressure or pain in your vagina/pelvis as you start to move around more, it means you still need to take it easy.
- Most importantly, please remember that the 6 week “all clear” milestone is an arbitrary number and there is no evidence to support that you are actually ready for pre-pregnancy activity at this time. You have completed the acute phase of healing, but you have just started the next phase which will take months. Research shows it takes 4-6 months for the pelvic floor muscles to recover after a vaginal birth and 6-7 months for the abdominal fascia to regain its structural integrity after a Cesarean birth. Pregnancy and birth result in impaired brain control of the deep core muscles, which means the brain does not reflexively activate these muscles like before.
- We cannot rush postpartum healing, but we can support it with rest and restorative types of movements and exercises that re-establish the pelvic floor and abdominal connection with the brain. These are the muscles that stabilize the pelvis and spine, so they are very important for life long physical health. If you increase your activity level before your muscles have regained their function, you may increase your injury risk. Lastly, leaking urine, pelvic pressure, abdominal or pelvic pain and painful sex are signs that you need some support and treatment by a Women’s Health Physical Therapist to fully heal after birth.
Alicia Roberts (formerly Willoughby) is a Women’s Health Physical Therapist who specializes in Prenatal and Postpartum bodies.
Her practice, Blossom Physical Therapy & Wellness has locations in Marin County and San Francisco. She has a new postpartum exercise program, Restore Your Roots, available on her website.
Learn more at www.blossompt.com.