Why the 6 week check is doing you a disservice
What should happen at your check?
There should be comprehensive check which will should include checking any scars, advise on how to massage and care for your scar.
A check of your ab separation & a pelvic floor check.
A discussion on your current mental health, a thorough check on baby's health and a chat about when you plan to resume having sex and what contraception you'll use.
What actually happens?
If you're lucky you'll get the baby checked and a brief chat on contraception, the rest sadly is largely overlooked as our GP surgeries are so over stretched and there's a limit to what can be checked in a ten minute appointment.
What I have seen first hand is that mums scars are very rarely checked. None of my postnatal mums were told to massage their C-section scar and many have experienced adhesions and issues healing.
9 out of 10 women I've seen have not had a diastasis recti check.
None had their pelvic floor checked.
None knew the site of their episiotomy and few knew what type of pelvic floor dysfunction they had (but knew they had dysfunction) and sadly very few got the emotional support needed.
I think the 6 week check is a fallacy.
I do not think GPs provide the thorough postnatal check really needed to make sure you feel well and are recovering properly.
In addition, how can you possibly be AOK after six weeks and resume to exercise when...
Your perineum is still sore and vagina and cervix may be injured
Your a walking zombie and don't know whether you're coming or going
Your vagina has been stretched way beyond it's resting tone and you likely feel "loose" or your muscles are overactive and constantly spasming.
Your posture and alignment have likely been totally off for nine months
Your entire insides shifted to make room for your growing baby and it's taken them up to 6 weeks for then to return to their rightful place including your urethra, vagina and anus.
Postpartum symptoms can also include insomnia, night sweats, anxiety, rapid heart rate, fatigue, weight loss and irritability (one to four months after birth) or fatigue, weight gain, constipation, dry skin and depression (four to eight months after birth).
It takes more like a year for the average woman to feel back to normal – both physically and emotionally – after giving birth.
However, that does not mean you shouldn't exercise but please don't return to your usual run or CrossFit if your dr does give you the ok.
After all, if you damaged or over stretched another muscle (say your hamstring) the last thing the physio would say would be ignore it for 6 weeks! And neither would they advise going back to marathons ASAP.
The approach here is one of caution and to really listen to ones body as everyone heals in their own time and your body will tell you when you're strong enough.
Plus, it's illogical to think your just resting for those first six weeks when your constantly carrying around a 2,5-5kg baby, your getting up and down off the floor, loading washing, lifting yourself up and down, feeding, and carrying the bulky loads that are car seats, buggies and baby paraphernalia!
So, what should you do to best help yourself? And when should you start?
Well... it's not a matter of when actually but what you do and my advice would be to start ASAP after birth with the below:
1. Activate your pelvic floor and core with diaphragmatic breathing
2. Think about activating those glutes and strengthening your back
3. Watch how you lift and use your legs not your back. Hip hinge and if in doubt, stick your butt out!
4. Be mindful how you feed, lift, carry baby, get/in and out of bed and walk
5. Align yourself properly. It's incredibly common to be in anterior pelvic tilt postnatally and this will not be helping you activate that core properly
6. Please , please, pretty please, consult with a women’s health physio and/or osteopath. These health professionals can greatly assist with your body healing and restoring you to correct alignment and function. Physiotherapists can also assess your strength prior to returning to exercise.
Doing this alongside my Restore programme will help you to efficiently and effectively heal and strengthen.
Massage can also really help with muscle tightness and releasing muscles that foam rolling and spikey ball massage just can’t get into. Whilst we often talk about strength, a healthy muscle is one that can relax and contract. Every muscle in your body needs to be able to do both. I highly recommend someone who can do internal release work.
If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch. If you’re reading this as a pregnant person, you don’t have to wait until post birth to start helping your body. Learn how to activate, move and exercise correctly now #whywait? #preventionovercure #knowledgeispower