Let’s just cover the bases of pregnancy and birth before we dive into the analysis of women’s rehabilitation. Pregnancy is the condition in which a woman becomes the host of a developing fetus that slowly grows into an actual human-being. This growing human being occupies the limited space inside of her pelvic cavity and torso for nine months. Over this period of time, the host’s major organs get shoved up into the lungs and ribcage, digestion slows down and chronic inflammation spreads into every system of the body while hormones surge to relax and stretch the muscles, tissues and ligaments, the skeletal structure shifts and rotates in order to support the caustic changes to the anterior anatomy (#babybump), and adjust to the increased pressure on all of the nerves and joints throughout the body.
(For nine months)
And childbirth? Well… Actual studies have shown that the experience of childbirth is equivalent to a woman having every single bone in her body broken at the same time … and then being set on fire. I cannot confirm the legitimacy of these studies, as every woman experiences birth differently and our hormones, neurotransmitters and blood chemistry naturally adjusts to our needs during labor to help us sustain every rising unit of pain – the human body is amazing – but let’s just leave the measurable scale of potential wide on this one.
Bottom line, a woman’s body goes through a lot. I’m not here to dramatize the experience of pregnancy and childbirth, but my hope is to shed light on the fact that our society has downplayed the significance for too long, and this is causing women and new mothers to suffer unnecessary, long term pain, illness, injury, and hormone imbalances.
Did you know:
- It actually takes a full year to recover from pregnancy and childbirth
- Women put up with a lot of pain and dysfunction because they think it’s “normal”, but it’s not. You’re not supposed to pee your pants! It’s just common that many women do.
- People are prescribed 1-2 weeks bed rest, 3-6mo of physical rehab and 6 follow ups for a 20 minute corrective knee surgery, yet PT is not addressed or even recommended by the majority of physicians after nine months of pregnancy and often 48+ hours of labor & delivery!
- It is extremely rare for a woman’s pelvic floor to be examined and assessed after birth, despite the trauma experienced to this area of muscles, connective tissue, joints and organs.
- There are about 2 scheduled postnatal checkups covered by insurance companies, which entail 15 minutes of doctor-patient interaction, where the physician only examines the cervix, any incision sites, c-section scar and any stitches to look for signs of infection…. Some small talk to address the mother’s mental/emotional adjustments and prescribe antibiotics or antidepressants if needed. In fifteen minutes.
- Note: they do not assess the function of any muscles, joints or organs.
- Men ice their testicles after vasectomies longer than most women get to stay in the hospital after having their bodies split in half.
So here’s the thing. Most women aren’t even complaining about this …and that needs to end. I’m not encouraging any negative dialogue around pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood either- because it is a miraculous and beautiful thing, and it’s sanctity should be honored and upheld.
But I am encouraging women, new mothers, and their coaches and trainers to think more carefully about how many considerations are negligently overlooked, ignored, disregarded or downplayed prior to a woman rejoining physical activities and fitness endeavors.
Women: after having a baby, did your physician, coach or personal trainer discuss with you each and every single issue below? Did they examine, test, measure, assess and weigh in all of the data separately and collectively to determine any potential health or injury risk factors before you started that 6am strength class, began running with your jogging stroller or signed up for 12 personal training sessions? Please review, and then I’ll discuss.
Postnatal Considerations A to Z:
- Vaginal/ c-section birth
- Pelvic floor strength & function
- Scar tissue
- Pelvic and spinal alignment
- Plumb line Posture
- Body mechanics
- Previous injuries
- Current pain scale
- fitness/activities before pregnancy
- fitness/activities during pregnancy
- Breathing mechanics
- Sleep patterns / circadian rhythm
- Diet and lifestyle
- Health history
- Current endocrine health
- Current visceral health & vitality
- Breastfeeding or not
- Stress scale
- Weight before pregnancy, weight gained & current weight goal
- availability/time constraints
- mental/emotional/spiritual health, values & practices
- Potential factoring challenges (ie; energy, time, availability, budget, motivation)
These things are incredibly essential to have a full understanding about, not just individually, but also in relationship to each other as a whole. ALL considerations, A- Z, (or 1-26) matter!
Most trainers, boot camp instructors, nutritionists or even doctors fail to address even ¼ of these factors when giving you advice, writing a program, instructing you to perform exercises, or even releasing you out into the wild to do whatever you want to do six weeks after acute physical trauma!
And then we wonder why so many women are experiencing chronic pain, incontinence, sexual dysfunction, early menopause, depression, anxiety, thyroid disorders, irregular periods, chronic fatigue and inability to lose weight!! (to name just a few)Should you be going to boot camp classes jumping around with weak, stretched out pelvic floor muscles? Performing core flexion exercises with split abdominal muscles? (see photo)
Priority Rehab Agenda 0-6mo
this is an uncompromising list of objectives I set into every post natal program:
- Sleep and rest
- Bonding with baby
- Clean food & hydration
- Restore diaphragmatic breathing
- Activate TVA & begin strengthening pelvic floor
- Correct posture*
If someone is in a hurry to drop weight, then we explain how that goal is severely detached from their actual values and that, in itself, will lead to failure.
Losing weight quickly after 9 months of pregnancy and physical trauma is not an option if you actually want to lose weight permanently and maintain your core values, feel good, have energy, be happy, and achieve long term health while maintaining your aesthetic figure!
Yes, a woman CAN do it all.
If she cuts corners and constantly looks for all the short-cuts while placing herself and her health as the last priority.
So if you’d like more information, continue on to my second and third installments to this topic:
III. Postnatal Exercise Guide: 6 weeks to 6 months (coming soon)