Congratulations, you’ve just had a baby! Whether this is your first child, or you’ve had many before, taking care of yourself postpartum is just as important as taking care of your baby. Many new moms attend their six-week postpartum checkup and are cleared to do whatever they want but don’t feel ready or don’t know how to begin exercising safely again. Not to mention, new moms may be experiencing other symptoms like urinary leakage, pelvic pain, or low back pain. These symptoms are often assumed to be normal, but they can be helped with the assistance of a physical therapist.
After giving birth, a lot of questions arise on how to return to a workout program safely once cleared by your doctor. Every birth is different (vaginal delivery vs caesarian section), so it’s important to discuss with your doctor before returning to exercise. Typically, walking and gentle exercises are permitted immediately after birth, but most doctors do not clear women for impact activities until at least 6 weeks postpartum. Certain women’s recoveries will be longer, and it is important to ease into abdominal strengthening. Starting a vigorous workout too early can cause problems such as incontinence or prolapse of the pelvic floor (when organs in the pelvis slip down from their normal position).
In the weeks following the birth of a baby, a new mother emerges. The fourth trimester used to be defined as the first six weeks postpartum. This period was also known as a singular event, only being addressed at the six-week checkup. The visit would consist of a depression screening, evaluation of the cervix, uterus, cesarean birth scar/episiotomy scar, family planning/birth control and discussion of breast/bottle feeding. In recent years this has changed – and for good reason.