In the United States, ankle sprains get better rehabilitation than women do after birth. That is not okay and today we are going to discuss what you CAN do during your first 6 weeks postpartum.
The first six weeks postpartum can be a very confusing time for women. We are told to ultimately do NOTHING for 6 weeks and then all of a sudden we can do EVERYTHING. There isn’t much information given regarding the 42 days between birth and your 6 week postpartum appointment. If it is frustrating for me as a women’s health provider, I am sure it is frustrating for the women reading this blog post.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sitting here getting ready to tell you to run a half marathon or hit a PR lift at 6 weeks postpartum, but I am telling you that you CAN do more than nothing. Recently I have heard some local providers tell new moms that they cannot exercise, cannot go for a walk and cannot lift anything heavier than their baby. What about the baby in the carrier, taking your stroller out of the car, another child, a laundry basket or a million other things that moms have to lift or move daily! These types of comments can instill a lot of fear and cause a lot of fear avoidance behaviors in postpartum women. I believe that there are exceptions to every “rule” and we are going to talk about them below.
Let’s begin with exercise. The word exercise is relative. Like I mentioned above, I am not suggesting that you jump into pre-pregnancy programming immediately, but you can start with some basics. Breath work, core strengthening, glute strengthening and low impact exercise is 100% appropriate prior to your 6 week appointment. Squatting is a PERFECT place to start! You squat every single day getting out of a chair, getting off of the toilet and getting out of bed. Why not do a few more reps to wake up those glutes? When you are feeling stable, make them loaded by holding your newborn. Walking is a close second as a great way to get some vitamin D from the sun, get outside, get your blood pumping and get your heart rate up!
Did you know that getting out of a chair, lifting 20 lbs from a counter, lifting 13 pounds from the floor and climbing the stairs all create the SAME amount of intra-abdominal pressure (IAP)! Also, coughing creates the SAME IAP as lifting 35 lbs from the floor!
If we use the comparisons above, we can put together some amazing at home rehabilitation programs that are safe during your first 6 weeks postpartum.
Here are some videos of my favorite exercises to start with:
Some things to keep in mind: if you are experiencing any pain that makes you feel uneasy call your healthcare provider immediately, if you experience additional or heavy bleeding following an activity of any intensity (this may even just be tidying the house) you may have pushed your body too much so please rest and if you are experiencing symptoms of heaviness in your pelvis please call your healthcare provider as well.
Following your 6 week postpartum appointment slowly adding load will be beneficial as you continue to recover. If you are at least 6 weeks postpartum, consider signing up for an upcoming Postpartum Recovery Series at Pinnacle Hill Chiropractic. CLICK HERE to learn more and register today.