The Postpartum Body: What is Normal?

The Postpartum Body: What is Normal?

We spend so much time during pregnancy thinking about and preparing for our baby. We can’t wait for baby to come so we can feel better and get our body back on track postpartum. BUT nobody prepares us for the fourth trimester.

The fourth trimester is difficult!

I’m sure every new mom will say that there is no way to fully prepare for the physical and emotional roller coaster of labor and delivery. It is amazing what our bodies can endure during pregnancy and delivery. There are no words to describe the extreme joy and love you instantly feel for your new baby.

However, what comes after for the next few weeks is not always joy. Most new moms are quick to say “ I’m doing great” because we feel blessed, we’re so in love, AND we feel guilty saying that we’re having a hard time.

You’re not alone, postpartum Moms

  • “I’m so exhausted I can’t think!”
  • “I had no idea I was going to feel like this!”
  • “This is so hard!”
  • “I don’t recognize myself anymore!”
  • “My body feels like it has been run over by a truck!”

This is sure how I felt initially and so I always felt a bit relieved when other new moms said they were feeling the same.  There is a lot of fear in this stage because you don’t know IF or WHEN it’s going to end.

As a pelvic health physiotherapist, my advice for brand new moms is this:

The first 6- 8 weeks is a time to honour your body. Let yourself rest and give yourself a break. Sleep when you can, drink lots of water, eat healthy foods and don’t feel the need to push. Keep in mind that you don’t need to be doing any vigorous exercise. But you should try to move in ways that feel comfortable because gentle movement will facilitate healing.

What is normal 0-8 weeks postpartum?

  • your vagina may feel loose, slightly heavy, and generally uncomfortable (vaginal delivery)
  • tender incision, slight itchiness (c-section)
  • discomfort/ pain in your low back, hips, pelvis
  • vaginal bleeding that lasts up to 8 weeks
  • difficulty controlling urine, stool or gas
  • The feeling that your abdomen is separating when you sit up from lying, or roll in bed

What is normal 8+ weeks postpartum?

  • vaginal bleeding should have stopped, scars from episiotomy or tear should be nearly healed
  • pain free movement in your daily activities
  • no leaking of bowel or bladder contents
  • should not feel pressure or bulging in your vagina or rectum
  • You should feel that the doming or separating of your abdominal muscles is improving

No postpartum journey is the same

Please keep in mind that no two women or pregnancies are the same and so, the postpartum phase is slightly different for everyone. These are a guideline to follow but I urge women to seek advice from their health care practitioner if “ something just doesn’t feel right”. I highly recommend that all women see a pelvic floor physiotherapist in the postpartum phase. I am one myself and as we’re trained to assess for and treat these very common problems women experience. Check out our blog post on the Ins and Outs of the Core for more on postpartum recovery.

From the inside out

Mommy Berries has created an online program to help introduce your body–specifically your deep core and pelvic floor–back to movement. From the Inside Out™ is a six week program that will help you understand the changes your pelvic floor and core have bee through. It also introduces you to exercises that help build strength in these areas. Make sure to respect the very important fourth trimester and nurture it from the inside out. This is the only body you will ever have, so treat it well!

Melissa Dessaulles
mel@mommyberries.com

Melissa is a pelvic health physiotherapist in Kelowna, BC. She is an active mom of 2 young kids. Her own experiences with post partum recovery have made her passionate about helping other moms.

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