When you’re a new mom, you will be bombarded by advice and info from many sources and directions, leaving you feeling lost and overwhelmed. Every topic is suddenly on the table- your body, your baby, your emotions and more. Between the internet, magazines, your friends, family, and your doctor, who’s perspective should you believe? Today, Beyond Mom and our resident women’s health expert Denise Jagroo will do some myth busting- let’s get down to the truth!
Peeing yourself when you sneeze is a part of life after having children
Your pelvic floor muscles are just like any other muscles in your body! These muscles can be weak and forget what they are supposed to do. Pregnancy and childbirth can definitely be a rough experience for these muscles, but it doesn’t mean that you need to say farewell to being dry all the time. These muscles wrap around the base of the bladder and are supposed to reflexively contract when you cough, laugh, sneeze and lift something.
All they need is a little retraining to get back on track. Seek out a pelvic physical therapist in your area to learn how to properly do Kegel exercises. Most people don’t perform pelvic floor exercises properly on their own. It is absolutely possible for you to get your muscles strong and properly functioning again. You don’t need to live the rest of your life trying not to sneeze in public.
Still looking pregnant months after giving birth is completely normal in all cases
This answer is not about losing pregnancy weight or getting back your pre-pregnancy body. Loving your body in any shape or form is extremely important and should be your priority. However, if you are exercising regularly and eating well post pregnancy and still feel that you cannot shed that belly bulge, you MAY have a diastasis recti. Diastasis Recti sounds scary but is really is just a separation of the abdominal muscles down the midline of your torso.
During pregnancy and for several months post-partum, there is a hormone circulating through your body called RELAXIN. This hormone literally relaxes your connective tissue in order for you to carry and deliver your baby. However it can also cause laxity in structures that are meant to remain stable. In between your ‘six pack’ muscles is a connective tissue structure called the linea alba. If the linea alba gets weak, your abdominal muscles can separate. This can lead to back discomfort and a bulging belly. Perhaps when you sit up from a laying down position, you see a bulge or “point” along your abdominal midline. It may even feel uncomfortable when you do that. If this is the case, seek out professional help from a certified women’s health physical therapist to learn what you can do to rehab this condition. Rehab involves special exercises, correcting body mechanics and using special bracing. You don’t have to live with this forever! This can be treated even many years after having a child. You can get back that six pack in no time with the proper help.
You should wait to exercise after having a baby
I know how badly you want to get back to the gym and start feeling like yourself again. Be patient! You definitely need to wait until your 6 week OB post-partum checkup to make sure everything is ok and that you are healing properly. I personally recommend waiting at least 2 months post-partum before returning to any aggressive workout program and pre-pregnancy workout regimen.
You still have pregnancy hormones going through your body. You are most likely not sleeping and you are getting used to this new roommate you now have. Give yourself a break! You will get back to feeling like yourself soon. Don’t rush it so that you don’t take 2 steps backwards.
Pain during sex is expected after having a baby
If you are healing properly after an episiotomy and any childbirth trauma and you have been cleared by your physician, sex should not be painful. Pain during intercourse is called ‘dyspareunia’. There are many causes for this and you should absolutely seek help for this. There are many different ways to treat it as well. Pain during intercourse can affect the intimacy in your relationship which can lead to other issues. Don’t feel embarrassed to speak to someone. This is a common issue that we pelvic therapists deal with regularly. Always seek out the help of a women’s health physical therapist to work on the condition and return to having fun in between the sheets.
One type of birth (Vaginal vs. C-section) is easier to recover from than the other
Some women are fearful of what can happen to their bodies from a vaginal birth and some women are worried about all the complications that can potentially happen from a C-section birth. Either one of these birthing scenarios can go very smoothly or can develop complications. I’ve seen women in my office in all scenarios. Speak with your OB and decide what is best for you. Either birthing scenario does not make you less or more of a woman. The most important thing is the health and safety of yourself and your baby. Recovery from each completely depends on the mom and the ease and complication of the birth. Obviously it’s not always a choice, but both have the potential for a full and healthy recovery. Learn as much as you can to prepare and recover and choose what’s right for you.
It’s important to read and listen to information and advice, but also listen to yourself! Be as informed as possible and go with your gut when it seems a little overwhelming (your gut is usually right). When in medical doubt, check with your OB and seek out the help of a Women’s Health Physical Therapist and Pelvic Physical Therapist. You don’t have to suffer or feel confused on your own. We are here to help!
Written by Denise Jagroo DPT, MTC, WCS. Denise is a Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Women’s Health Physical Therapy and the co-author or Your Best Pregnancy: The Ultimate Guide to Easing the Aches, Pains and Uncomfortable Side Effects During Each Stage of Your Pregnancy. Dr. Jagroo has a private practice in midtown Manhattan: www.drjagroo.com