5 Reasons Not to Exercise, Soon After the 6-week PP JourneyJan 12, 2023
Having a baby is an incredible experience. There are many stages both mentally and physically. Let's talk about the PP (Postpartum) stage.
My second postpartum journey has had a lot of reflection points and I'm so excited to connect with you and talk about reasons why there is no rush to slip into your bralette, unless you're using it as a nursing bra!
Six weeks PP with a beautiful new life (literally), why rush to get back to the old one?!?...
This PP journey I have given time when needed and chose to respect the process of allowing my body to recuperate on its own time. No self-pressure or timelines to get back to 'who I was'. Since this is my second labor and birth, I've learned the process of the two can cause physical problems including lower back pain, which I experienced both times. As eager as you are to exercise, intense or high impact exercise slows down your healing process. Even if you feel ready, consult with your Dr. to be sure. Besides Dr. consultations, I learned about something new this time around.
Postpartum Physical Therapy (PPPT)! After you've had a second baby your abdomen has experienced true separation and can be very apparent. After leaving the hospital, I remember touching the upper half of my abs and feeling absolutely nothing. The best way to explain, I felt like my guts were hanging there with nothing but skin to hold them in place. I mentioned this to my OB, when seen for my 6-week PP checkup and she also noticed the lack of upper ab muscles and slight separation down the center of my tummy where abs normally form. So, she referred me to a Physical Therapist. Meanwhile, I planned to see a Pelvic Floor Therapist to check on things and make sure I am in perfect health for the next baby, but she mentioned I would probably be interested in physical therapy to help with Diastasis recti. I was surprised and intrigued. As an athlete, I am very familiar with chiropractic care as well as sport massages, but PT for postpartum recovery. I said, "Tell me more!"
After having my first baby and going through the experience as a first-time mom, I definitely tried to 'bounce back' to my old ways without being fully open to welcoming new ones. I recall my husband; our dog and I went for a 2-hr. hike while I wore baby. My shoe of choice was definitely an afterthought. I hiked in Berkenstock sandals; I didn't recover from that for MONTHS! My feet and lower back killed me. The pain had me in tears and dialing the number to my chiropractor for the earliest appointment available!
Second time around, I now understand that pregnancy hormones can affect your joints and ligaments for up to 6 months after birth. As a first-time mom, I was uninformed to this knowledge, so the news that hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy don't just disappear as soon as your baby is delivered, was news to me. Overdoing it after pregnancy can result in pelvis discomfort and joint pain causing injury. If you are feeling the first two, on your PP journey, well, these are the 5 reasons NOT to exercise soon after the 6-week PP mark.
1. Your sleep deprived!
If this is your 2nd baby, this is the first thing that comes to mind. Having a baby whether it's your first, second or third is eventful. Adding in a workout even if it's minimal can be very taxing! Try allowing baby to reach the point that they are sleeping longer at night to give you the much-needed rest to be alert and present for your family and for yourself. Remember, carrying your baby is a workout and if you have stairs, consider that the introductory period to your exercise routine!
2. Exercise may cause reopening of tear wounds.
Lots of women tear naturally during a vaginal birth and need time to heal. Every woman's healing time is completely personal with different needs that should be respected. By paying attention to what your body reveals and waiting to be cleared by your Dr. you can expect to heal and feel better about exercising. If you're feeling up to it, start off very slow and be mindful of the exercise so you are not putting stress and tension on your pelvis or back.
3. You may be experiencing PP fluid retention, joint and ligament pain, pelvis discomfort, bloating or abdominal muscle separation called diastasis recti.
Allowing time for your body to recover from each of these is ideal. Painful feet, ankle and wrists may be a sign to give yourself more time to recover. Fluid retention in your tummy can be mistaken for a mum tummy or pooch but in time will drain on its own. After delivery, it could take more than the suggested six weeks to allow your body to rid itself of the hormone progesterone and excess fluid through perspiration or waste. Waiting to exercise is a way to respect your body to allow for a full recovery.
4. Show yourself some TLC!
Instead of trying to 'bounce back' try welcoming your 'new' self. Truly, what's the rush? Explore this journey, welcome it and let go of anything that doesn't align with your goal. Rest, bond with your baby or babies, spend time cuddling, play, and rest while they rest.
5. You've discovered Physical Therapy!
Which can be started as soon as 2-3 weeks PP! Also, PP care may be covered by your insurance, so be sure to check. The goal of physical therapy during the postpartum period is to address spinal and pelvic joint dysfunction, instruct in exercises to address muscle weakness and imbalance, as well as provide guidance and instruction related to modification of ADLs (activities of daily living) that may be difficult during this phase of life. I found physical therapy extremely helpful postpartum and wonder why it isn't widely encouraged.
Motherhood changes you inside and out. With plans to have a family of 7, it's important that I rebuild my body to full recovery to prepare for the next. As a family of 4, I need to make sure I am healthy, physically fit and mentally able to care for myself, my children and my family before adding another to the mix. With proper exercise and most importantly loving and respecting the PP recovery process I can be sure I will be prepared to do it all over again.
Cheers to being a mama of 2 and being excited for more!!!
X, That Edgy Momma
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