Motherhood, The Body Changes Nobody Tells You About
Congratulations! You’ve had a baby! Now you get to experience all the challenges and joys that motherhood can bring. A mother’s world revolves around that little bundle of joy. Sure, now you may pee a little when you laugh and/or sneeze, or you may not be able to sit up in bed as easily as you used to be able to, or your usual exercise routine is so much harder than it used to be, but that’s totally normal and expected after giving birth to your little miracle…..right?
Oh my goodness, no girl! Mother’s bodies go through so many musculoskeletal changes during pregnancy to accommodate your growing babe and to get ready to give birth, it is really quite amazing. The not-so-fun changes include, but are not limited to, increased lumbar lordosis (curve in your low back), stretched out abdominal and pelvic floor muscles and tissues, feet “flattening”, and pelvic girdle laxity. Then, after that is all said and done, we’re expected to GIVE BIRTH?!! Whether we give birth via C-section or vaginally, why-oh-why would we neglect the fact that our bodies may need a little extra help healing and recovering?
To start that healing process, a visit to a women’s health physical therapist (PT) is a good place to begin. Your PT can address issues including bowel/bladder incontinence, sexual dysfunction, diastasis rectus abdominus (your stretched out abdominal tissues), postural impairments that may be giving you pain, proper body mechanics when caring for your baby, and so much more! It is always a good idea to check in with a women’s health PT after you’ve had a baby to make sure all of your pelvic floor and core muscles are working properly, your tissues are healing, and to ensure proper progression of resuming your exercise routine.
A notable barrier to seeing a women’s health PT is finding the time to make, and go to, an appointment when you have this new little one who depends on you for nearly everything. The good news is many women’s health PTs actually encourage their patients to bring their new baby as a teaching point. They can educate you on the proper way of carrying your baby and car seat so that you don’t hurt yourself further down the line. They can also help with positioning while breastfeeding to decrease the stress on your shoulders, neck, and back. So, go ahead, bring your little one along!
Another barrier women’s health PTs hear is, “I had a baby years ago, there’s no way my incontinence, my pelvic pain, my diastasis rectus, and/or my low back pain can be helped now.” Not true my friend, not true. All of these issues can be treated at any age, regardless of how long ago you had your baby. Many women don’t actually have any symptoms of a weak pelvic floor until years after they have given birth. So please don’t worry about your age if you are having pelvic floor dysfunction, any time in life is a good time to see a women’s health physical therapist!
Why would you wait to improve your quality of life when it can be done now? Taking care of yourself is the best selfish thing you can do. The healthier you are as a mom, the better you can take care of your little one, and the less accidental peeing you will do when you laugh at all the silly stuff your kiddo will do while they are growing up.