Part 5 – What is normal after having a baby?

Normal is a broad term and after having a baby it can be even broader depending on who you talk to.  When I see moms that have a concern after having a baby, I consider multiple factors before determining if what they are concerned about is normal.  In some cases, the concern has been normalized by another health practitioner with no real logical explanation or investigation.  I often call this being “dismissed.”  Hearing patient stories of dismissal anger and frustrates me.  If someone has a concern it needs to be investigated thoroughly by an assessment, referral, diagnostic tests, or perhaps all 3 before you can determine if it is normal.  As a pelvic floor physiotherapist, I have assessment skills that entail knowledge about tissue damage and recovery and use various methods of assessing muscle, joints, vascular and nervous tissue.  Once I have explored all these areas I can properly address a concern.  In some instances, I may recommend or refer the patient to someone who might provide more answers.

Postpartum moms will likely find that bleeding for a few weeks after a baby is normal and depending on their delivery swelling, bruising and overall soreness is part of healing.  Most soft tissue should be healed in 6 weeks, but this does not mean that you can suddenly return to the same activities that you were doing during your pregnancy or prior to becoming pregnant.  A common struggle that most moms have postpartum will likely include;

  • Strength, endurance, coordination, and speed deficits of the pelvic floor, abdominals, hip, and low back.
  • Fatigue due to an inconsistent sleep schedule

Physiotherapists are trained rehabilitation medicine specialists and postpartum moms need rehabilitation of their muscles.  If you have ever injured yourself, depending on the mechanism of injury, your functionality can be changed in a millisecond and your recovery can take weeks, months, or years.  That means that new mom’s functionality changed gradually over 9 months and therefore recovery needs to be just as long or even up to 2 years depending on their goals, pregnancy-related functional status, and the labor and delivery circumstances.

What isn’t Normal?

  • Persistent bleeding.
  • Persistent pain anywhere in the body.
  • Leakage of urine or feces.
  • Sensations of heaviness or a bulge felt in the vaginal or rectal area.
  • Pain with intercourse.
  • Any other unusual symptoms that were not there before or during pregnancy and have not been experienced by women you know and trust that have also had children

What to do if something feels abnormal?

Depending on your experience, you can go see your doctor or midwife first or call a pelvic floor physiotherapist to see if your concern is more suited for the physiotherapist’s expertise.  No matter what your concern, if you have confidence in your awareness of the pelvic floor and diaphragmatic breathing, early pelvic floor muscle training and diaphragmatic breathing is always safe.  If you find your symptoms worsen with doing these exercises then booking in with a pelvic floor physiotherapist is needed.

If you have never included a pelvic floor physiotherapist in your healthcare team, it might be the next step to helping you recover.

Book Now to see Leona Ham BSc. P.T,  Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist.