I think I can speak for the majority of women when I make a bold statement in saying that there is a big gap in care for postpartum women here in Canada. The female body changes drastically during pregnancy with the stretching of the core muscles, squishing of organs and the addition of several pounds of extra pressure going down through the pelvic floor. 

THEN, we either push a baby out of the pelvic floor muscles during a vaginal delivery or undergo a major abdominal surgery in order to deliver our baby via cesarean section.

AFTER that, there is no rehabilitation focused on the pelvic floor or core muscles. Instead, we encourage rest for 6 weeks at which time our care providers often discharge us from their care and provide the “all clear” to resume activity. 

At that point women are often still experiencing unusual symptoms that were not there before pregnancy which makes them fearful of activity and for that reason they avoid it.  

On the other end of the spectrum, is the postpartum woman that feels great and ventures back to running or joins a mom and baby boot camp. Unfortunately, our fitness culture places a spotlight on shedding baby weight and fitting back into our pre-baby clothes ASAP, meaning that exercises often quickly involve high intensity and jumping. This ‘too much too soon’ mentality all too often results in certain postpartum symptoms, which are meant to act as warning signs of potentially more serious issues to come, if not addressed.

As a pelvic health physiotherapist, the majority of my clients consist of women who experience symptoms such as; leaking, prolapse, back pain, core weakness, painful intercourse, and unresolving diastasis recti. Of course, all of these clients are unique, but what they have in common is that they ask “Why aren’t we told about this stuff?” 

There are so many things I wish I would have known when I was pregnant with my first, and so understand the frustration with being left in the dark about postpartum symptoms that can be life changing… and not for the better. 

Here are my top 5 things I wish I knew before having a baby:

1

You will likely pee your pants.

The pelvic floor is a very important group of muscles that makes sure we don’t leak pee or poop. Because of the drastic changes during pregnancy and the trauma during delivery, these muscles aren’t at their best and don’t always do their job as well postpartum, hence the leaking. There are exercises you can do postpartum that help to encourage these muscles to remember their role (not as simple as just doing kegels) so that you stay dry. 

2

Sex will most likely feel quite different.

Its hard enough just getting your head wrapped around being intimate again for the first time postpartum, let alone dealing with things feeling different. Many women feel less pleasure down there postpartum due to a lack of muscle tone, but also difficulty with reaching climax. Others are surprised to feel that penetration is very painful for several months or even years postpartum. Both of these issues are very much tied to the pelvic floor muscles and you can imagine that when left unresolved, can be a major source of strain on a relationship. 

3

The organs in your pelvis will feel they have shifted. 

If you feel any of the following symptoms:

  • Vaginal heaviness or pressure
  • Constipation and/or difficulty passing bowel movements
  • Difficulty emptying your bladder fully
  • Difficulty with tampon use
  • See or feel a bulge down there

Then you are likely experiencing some degree of prolapse, meaning your uterus, bladder or rectum are not being supported as well as they need to be. Once again, our pelvic floor plays a very important role in the support of these organs, and after all the extra weight from a pregnancy plus the bearing down during delivery, these muscles may not be ‘holding up’ their end of the deal. 

4

Symptoms may manifest at any time postpartum. 

It may be the case that once you start increasing the intensity of your exercises, that you notice these all so common symptoms. Maybe it will be after a subsequent pregnancy and delivery due to the compounding effects of these drastic body changes. Or it may even take several years before the body starts to see the effects. Some women experience it during menopause, due to the hormonal changes. Symptoms that have been brewing just below the surface, are now brought to the surface.

Don’t wait until you have symptoms that become harder to address and may require surgical intervention. Trust me, these women wish they could turn back the clock to address their symptoms, when they first started experiencing them. 

5

You will receive little to no guidance. 

I was shocked at the fact that not once did anyone talk to me about or ask me about:

  • What exercises are safe and recommended during pregnancy
  • What measures I could take to understand my pelvic floor, and what I could do to prepare these ‘under emphasized’ group of muscles, that I would push my baby out of
  • What symptoms I could expect to experience postpartum, and what I should do if they don’t resolve
  • What exercises should I start with postpartum and how quickly should I progress 

Even as a Physiotherapist, I was not prepared for any of this. We learned very little in our physiotherapy education about the pelvic floor and postpartum changes. It wasn’t until I had my own experience with leaking, pelvic pain so bad I could barely walk, separated abdominal muscles which made my core feel weak, plus a whole host of injuries that left me struggling to stay active, that I recognized I needed to seek out help. I was feeling down and to be honest, pretty frustrated. 

My own experience is what pushed me into further education focused on the pelvic floor. Now that I work with women in the clinic who have stories similar to mine, I see how big this gap in care for postpartum women really is. 

Ladies, I want you to know that your story doesn’t have to go as mine did. 

In France, postpartum women are seen by a pelvic health physiotherapist a number of times, for which the cost is covered by their medical system, in an effort to provide proactive care. 

In Canada, the same therapists exist out there for you. Unfortunately, we aren’t at the point where this level of care is being offered proactively. Instead, postpartum women are required to not only pay, but do not receive this advice from their care provider. Instead, moms are often the ones that suggest these practitioners to other moms. 

I would highly recommend finding a pelvic health physiotherapist in your community and seeing them for an assessment during and after pregnancy. 

That said, I understand this can be hard for some to afford, or to access. 

In an effort to provide guidance to all postpartum moms, I have created an online program which allows you to gain knowledge and guidance through the early postpartum phase, in the comfort of your own home. This program will help you re-connect with your pelvic floor and prepare you for whatever activity you want to get back to.    

Watch the video below for a sneak peak at the 6-week online program, From the Inside Out. It is safe to start right after having a baby, or while pregnant. Members gain access to the private Mommy Berries Community of other like-minded new moms, working through the program together. I’m on the forum every day to answer questions and offer inspiration. 

***SPECIAL DISCOUNT – Receive 15% off with discount code: IWC available until March 31, 2019 ***

Written by Melissa with Mommy Berries

For free tips about early postpartum pelvic rehabilitation:

 

I think I can speak for the majority of women when I make a bold statement in saying that there is a big gap in care for postpartum women here in Canada. The female body changes drastically during pregnancy with the stretching of the core muscles, squishing of organs and the addition of several pounds of extra pressure going down through the pelvic floor. 

THEN, we either push a baby out of the pelvic floor muscles during a vaginal delivery or undergo a major abdominal surgery in order to deliver our baby via cesarean section.

AFTER that, there is no rehabilitation focused on the pelvic floor or core muscles. Instead, we encourage rest for 6 weeks at which time our care providers often discharge us from their care and provide the “all clear” to resume activity. 

At that point women are often still experiencing unusual symptoms that were not there before pregnancy which makes them fearful of activity and for that reason they avoid it.  

On the other end of the spectrum, is the postpartum woman that feels great and ventures back to running or joins a mom and baby boot camp. Unfortunately, our fitness culture places a spotlight on shedding baby weight and fitting back into our pre-baby clothes ASAP, meaning that exercises often quickly involve high intensity and jumping. This ‘too much too soon’ mentality all too often results in certain postpartum symptoms, which are meant to act as warning signs of potentially more serious issues to come, if not addressed.

As a pelvic health physiotherapist, the majority of my clients consist of women who experience symptoms such as; leaking, prolapse, back pain, core weakness, painful intercourse, and unresolving diastasis recti. Of course, all of these clients are unique, but what they have in common is that they ask “Why aren’t we told about this stuff?” 

There are so many things I wish I would have known when I was pregnant with my first, and so understand the frustration with being left in the dark about postpartum symptoms that can be life changing… and not for the better. 

Here are my top 5 things I wish I knew before having a baby:

1. You will likely pee your pants.

The pelvic floor is a very important group of muscles that makes sure we don’t leak pee or poop. Because of the drastic changes during pregnancy and the trauma during delivery, these muscles aren’t at their best and don’t always do their job as well postpartum, hence the leaking. There are exercises you can do postpartum that help to encourage these muscles to remember their role (not as simple as just doing kegels) so that you stay dry. 

2. Sex will most likely feel quite different.

Its hard enough just getting your head wrapped around being intimate again for the first time postpartum, let alone dealing with things feeling different. Many women feel less pleasure down there postpartum due to a lack of muscle tone, but also difficulty with reaching climax. Others are surprised to feel that penetration is very painful for several months or even years postpartum. Both of these issues are very much tied to the pelvic floor muscles and you can imagine that when left unresolved, can be a major source of strain on a relationship. 

3. The organs in your pelvis will feel they have shifted. 

If you feel any of the following symptoms:

  • Vaginal heaviness or pressure
  • Constipation and/or difficulty passing bowel movements
  • Difficulty emptying your bladder fully
  • Difficulty with tampon use
  • See or feel a bulge down there

Then you are likely experiencing some degree of prolapse, meaning your uterus, bladder or rectum are not being supported as well as they need to be. Once again, our pelvic floor plays a very important role in the support of these organs, and after all the extra weight from a pregnancy plus the bearing down during delivery, these muscles may not be ‘holding up’ their end of the deal. 

4. Symptoms may manifest at any time postpartum. 

It may be the case that once you start increasing the intensity of your exercises, that you notice these all so common symptoms. Maybe it will be after a subsequent pregnancy and delivery due to the compounding effects of these drastic body changes. Or it may even take several years before the body starts to see the effects. Some women experience it during menopause, due to the hormonal changes. Symptoms that have been brewing just below the surface, are now brought to the surface.

Don’t wait until you have symptoms that become harder to address and may require surgical intervention. Trust me, these women wish they could turn back the clock to address their symptoms, when they first started experiencing them. 

5. You will receive little to no guidance. 

I was shocked at the fact that not once did anyone talk to me about or ask me about:

  • What exercises are safe and recommended during pregnancy
  • What measures I could take to understand my pelvic floor, and what I could do to prepare these ‘under emphasized’ group of muscles, that I would push my baby out of
  • What symptoms I could expect to experience postpartum, and what I should do if they don’t resolve
  • What exercises should I start with postpartum and how quickly should I progress 

Even as a Physiotherapist, I was not prepared for any of this. We learned very little in our physiotherapy education about the pelvic floor and postpartum changes. It wasn’t until I had my own experience with leaking, pelvic pain so bad I could barely walk, separated abdominal muscles which made my core feel weak, plus a whole host of injuries that left me struggling to stay active, that I recognized I needed to seek out help. I was feeling down and to be honest, pretty frustrated. 

My own experience is what pushed me into further education focused on the pelvic floor. Now that I work with women in the clinic who have stories similar to mine, I see how big this gap in care for postpartum women really is. 

Ladies, I want you to know that your story doesn’t have to go as mine did. 

In France, postpartum women are seen by a pelvic health physiotherapist a number of times, for which the cost is covered by their medical system, in an effort to provide proactive care. 

In Canada, the same therapists exist out there for you. Unfortunately, we aren’t at the point where this level of care is being offered proactively. Instead, postpartum women are required to not only pay, but do not receive this advice from their care provider. Instead, moms are often the ones that suggest these practitioners to other moms. 

I would highly recommend finding a pelvic health physiotherapist in your community and seeing them for an assessment during and after pregnancy. 

That said, I understand this can be hard for some to afford, or to access. 

In an effort to provide guidance to all postpartum moms, I have created an online program which allows you to gain knowledge and guidance through the early postpartum phase, in the comfort of your own home. This program will help you re-connect with your pelvic floor and prepare you for whatever activity you want to get back to.    

Watch the video below for a sneak peak at the 6-week online program, From the Inside Out. It is safe to start right after having a baby, or while pregnant. Members gain access to the private Mommy Berries Community of other like-minded new moms, working through the program together. I’m on the forum every day to answer questions and offer inspiration. 

***SPECIAL DISCOUNT – Receive 15% off with discount code: IWC available until March 31, 2019 ***

Written by Melissa with Mommy Berries

For free tips about early postpartum pelvic rehabilitation: