Have you put thought into how you can start the rehab process postpartum, even in the first few days to weeks? It doesn’t need to get complicated, and it doesn’t need to take a lot of time.
As we have gone through before, your body goes through MASSIVE changes during pregnancy (even if it has done it before). And it goes through a major physical and/or emotional TRAUMA during childbirth. Then you are expected to immediately do anything and everything for your newborn – not to mention keep up with other toddlers running around at home.
So how do you keep up with your postpartum body and healing among all of that?
REST. In those first couple of weeks, it is helpful to find a balance of rest in between the non-stop childcare, potential visitors, and everyday life that still goes on. As mentioned, your body has gone through 9+ months of physical and emotional changes, followed by the extremely physical and emotional event of childbirth. Your body (and mind) is EXHAUSTED. If you have others at home to help you, let them. Plan for others to take care of house chores, cooking, bringing you water, carrying the heavy stuff, and paying the bills. If you have always been a planner, maybe you even prepare frozen meals, organize the chores in ways you like them done, and set up the house so you can access things like diapers or water super easily.
REHAB. While rest is important, it doesn’t mean you can’t start some movement. You can begin with foundational concepts and exercises to restore a connection with your core, breathing, posture, and intentional movement. And yes, you can start this DAY 1! As your body continues to change postpartum, your muscles and brain will need to keep up. Pay attention to using your diaphragm and moving your ribcage while breathing. Practice gentle cues such as “blowing through a straw” to activate that deep core in various positions. Using a stacked posture – especially while holding baby – can make your breathing and core engagement more effective. Moving in ways that feel good to you and don’t zap all of your energy later will keep your body in healing mode.
MINDSET. Athlete brain – it’s basically when the “Type A” personality sets in and tells you to get after it already and forget about the 100 other things you need to juggle at the same time. Sometimes we can work with it, but let me offer you this perspective for postpartum recovery: is it worth it now during these early weeks to “get after it”, or can you embrace the rehab process to maintain long-term health and athleticism? Start slow, build gradually. Household activity and short walks come first, loaded movements and longer walks follow. This isn’t a race or competition, respect your body’s individual healing process.
NOURISH. Yes, everyone wants to lose the baby fat and return to their pre-pregnancy body. Cutting calories is not the answer. Especially if you are breastfeeding. Focus on whole foods with quality sources of protein, fat, and carbs. Extra nutrients like collagen can be particularly helpful in the postpartum period to help support connective tissue repair. If you are breastfeeding, you’ll likely need an extra 500+ calories (more than during pregnancy) to support you and baby. And don’t forget to stay hydrated – water is your best bet!
PFPT. Seeing your OB or midwife at your 6 week check up is a must and keeps your healing on track, but it doesn’t often keep the whole picture in mind. Visiting a pelvic floor physical therapist – or even meeting with one virtually – will emphasize your postpartum rehab with your goals in mind. Want to return to running or weightlifting? How about preventing leaking with sneezing or jumping? Did you have a perineal tear during childbirth or have a C-section? Are you worried about pain with sex postpartum? A PFPT will address all of these things and more in an individualized fashion. Most postpartum people meet with a PFPT between 4-6 weeks after childbirth. Learn about all of the ways PFPT can help you feel confident in your postpartum rehab.
Most importantly, give your body grace and remember how resilient your body is. It took 9+ months during pregnancy to grow your baby, it will take 9+ months for your body to recover. When in doubt, you are not alone. Contact us today to set up a plan for your postpartum recovery, or sign up for Rebuilding the Postpartum Athlete: A Holistic Guide to Your First 8 Weeks.