Getting active postpartum: the pelvic floor issue
Before I begin, I realize this post is going to appeal to very specific demographic; however, I assume the majority of my readers are my female friends…and my dad. Yet, I also appreciate that not all of my female friends are interested / want to / are able to have babies. Thus, whittling my group of readers even more. Nevertheless, I think this information may be helpful (I am, of course, biased). And to my male readers, I know you can handle it, but be warned this post refers to my pelvic floor…a lot (so, my vagina).
My prenatal doctor talked to me somewhat incessantly about my pelvic floor muscles. She did this because I continued to run during my pregnancy. At around six months I had to call it quits; the human sloshing around in my uterus felt weird, to say the least. So I basically ignored my doctor’s advice up until month six. Typical. I, of course, knew better.
After having my sweet baby girl (vaginally…I warned you), I ran at three weeks, did weights at four weeks, and started postpartum yoga at five weeks. Seriously, what was I thinking? I wasn’t. While I had a very smooth labour and delivery, my body was not ready for this level of activity (please read between the lines, ladies…and dad).
Yet, if I hadn’t attended postpartum yoga, I would never have learned about my potential (now confirmed) pelvic floor issues. I mentioned a slight tightness in my inner thigh and the yoga instructor immediately encouraged me to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist. So, I did. And she confirmed the tightness was likely due to some mild pelvic floor issues / ligament looseness I incurred during pregnancy and labour. She also warned me that even with few issues right now (no incontinence, prolapse, pain, etc.), I could suffer a prolapsed uterus down the road, especially if I continue to run and have more children (both of which I plan to do).
As you can imagine, when someone threatens a prolapsed uterus, you: a) gasp, b) gasp again, and c) start listening. It’s a somewhat unpleasant thought. At lunch today, I mentioned this to another active momma and her eyes just about bulged out of her head.
I’m not sure many women know this is an important postpartum step, with our without obvious issues. I didn’t. Oh and you’re definitely not supposed to do abdominal work until six months postpartum; yes, you can split your abs. Fortunately, I avoided that issue (even though I did abdominal exercises at four weeks).
So to the mommas (current, soon-to-be), friends of mommas, and partners of mommas, please spread the word. No one wants their vagina falling out. Seriously.
I apologize for the somewhat graphic nature of this post (sorry, not sorry).
Happy exercising (in a safe and cautious manner) postpartum.