Relax: Give Yourself 3 Months
Edmund Schoeffler, MD
You have just had your baby and your body has undergone a few changes. Pregnancy weight gain and the stress of delivery are the main culprits behind problems with pelvic floor relaxation and urinary incontinence. At the standard 6-week post partum exam, we focus on getting you back into your normal routine, albeit your new normal. Contraception, resumption of physical and sexual activity, and exercise are the main focus. Bladder function is also discussed, but 6 weeks is just too soon to see how things will evolve, as most women have some degree of incontinence in this initial post partum period.
There are many physical and social issues at the 6-week check up: feeding the baby and getting some sleep are really the only things on your mind at this time. That’s why we at Virginia Women’s Center have adopted a 3-month post partum annual exam into our practice. This is really the best time to see how bladder and sexual function have recovered after delivery. This is also when we talk about exercise.
Post partum exercise regimens which are best are those which do not put pressure on the pelvic floor. Recommended exercises are walking, elliptical and cross training which keep your feet on the machines, spinning, and low-impact fitness routines. Exercises such as running, jumping, squatting, and heavy lifting should be avoided in this post partum time period. Pelvic floor exercises like Kegels can help improve pelvic and bladder function. If there are other issues, then more specialized evaluations and management with physical therapy can be addressed. It took nine months of pregnancy to put the weight on. Working off the pregnancy pounds takes time. The hardest part of the whole process is finding that time!
“For many women, there are strong misconceptions in regards to the length of time it will take for their bodies to ‘snap back’ to their pre-baby state. A lot of this can be attributed to the media and what we are presented with as a ‘normal recovery’. The stigma that postpartum women face is still strong and causes many to keep issues such as incontinence and pelvic pain to themselves. This is why it is so very important to find a doctor who will have these discussions early in the postpartum period and answer any of those tough questions you may have. Your body is amazing and has gone through a lot of changes. Find a team of knowledgeable health professionals to support and guide you. Most importantly, be patient with your body!” – Dr. Cora Huitt
To learn more about Virginia Women’s Center and to book your appointment with Dr. Edmund Schoeffler, you may do so by visiting their website or by calling 804-288-4084.
To learn more about Postpartum Strong® and to book an appointment with a women’s health specialist, you may call Women’s Health Physical Therapy at 804-379-3002.