There are many things that I feel I never got clear guidance or support about during pregnancy. I am now experiencing a similar story post natal. My aim on my blog (and in person) is to document my experience and advise what I wish someone had told me. I am going to jump to my post natal recovery from my ‘fit pregnancy’ mum blog and I aim not to be ‘preachy’. I often found people’s ‘advice’ unhelpful and I do hope that my message is really about looking after yourself?!
Overall, I have been in complete shock about the female body and there are some fundamentals that should be appreciated before I discuss specifics.
- The female body takes a serious battering during pregnancy and giving birth. I really never had any idea. Whether you have a good or a bad pregnancy, recent research has shown pregnancy is like running a marathon and giving birth is almost super human 💪.
- Being a fit pregnant person or not comes with lots of scrutiny, the same applies for post partum. The societal norms of how much weight people put on during pregnancy, the judgements and the imagery of people getting back in shape super quick after giving birth is really a complex issue. There is no 1 way to know how you will respond to pregnancy and every pregnancy and birth is different so will need different ante natal and post natal recovery journeys. You can NOT necessarily just copy what someone else is doing on social media.
- My pre-pregnancy pelvic girdle pain was apparently meant to ‘disappear’ once my baby arrived. This in part was true, but created different problems in my postnatal recovery. Whatever ailment you may have had during pregnancy may have a different effect on your body post partum.
- The UK GP check, I do not think is sufficient to make a judgement on your ability to start or get back into exercise. A 10 minute look over with no examination of internal or external physical ability is not good enough to indicate a woman can start back in exercise after having a baby. Get specialist help as you need it but you have to get up and find it. Exercise really is a clever way of rebalancing.
- A post natal body is now your forever body.
- You do not need to live your post natal life with a bad back, pain in your hips, shoulder pain. Exercise and professional support really can help during pregnancy and post partum. Exercise is not just about weight loss, being fit, burning calories.
I highlight the above because women really are expected to do so much while their bodies go through enormous change. I am lucky enough to have a good understanding of the human body and the mind. However, there are so many people that are not in my position and really should think about the impact that just being pregnant and giving birth has before anything to do with fitness and nutrition.
In my experience, pelvic girdle pain was seriously debilitating for a few months. Pelvic Girdle Pain [PGP] (previously known as Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction) is know to be caused by overactivity or under activity (great help right). I believe in my case overactivity caused PGP, combined with the hormone relaxin (present during pregnancy) which is responsible for allowing the pelvis to ‘limber up’ to prepare for birth.
My body mechanics changed with my PGP to reduce the pain. While still working out at very low intensity, doing Pilates and walking to keep moving, my body found ways to compensate and work differently, particularly in response to pain. Different muscles and patterns will emerge which you won’t be aware of to prevent you from feeling pain. I had to tell the midwives and doctors to be careful moving me around during delivery. Luckily I had very understanding and considerate midwives, however, I’m sure I was moved around more than I should have been.
After giving birth and being advised that PGP would disappear, I posted a picture on instagram showing how my abs were looking so good.
🙂 I was, and still am, pretty amazed at the female body. I couldn’t believe how I had a version of my pre baby body back (for a short time). However, I was wrong, I did not get my pre baby body back. I had a new body and was at the beginning of a long, hard journey back to feeling normal and a whole new set of problems that I had to navigate.
I continue to work on my postnatal body. My aim is to lose some of the weight I have gained in the last months in a safe way, and I am trying to respect what my body tells me. I now have pains and niggles that I never did before that I need to notice and respond to carefully. Some days I can attend a circuit class with regressed exercises. Other days, I have a gentle walk, focus on my posture and have a long bath to soothe my muscles.
What is the key message in this post? I think it is that you know you. If you have had a niggle or a pain during pregnancy; you should definitely look at trying to correct it post natally. What helped me in my post natal recovery the most was – time. I am impatient. This has been a real challenge and I am still recovering, hoping to feel completely ‘normal’ again soon. They say it takes 9 months to recover fully after 9 months of growing a human, which I think is reasonable!
If you are reading this and wondering what I would advise from my own experience that no one told me, I would:
- Do not ignore pains, niggles or changes in your body during pregnancy. Specialist help will address your individual ailments during pregnancy.
- Pain from pregnancy may not just go away. There may even be new pains that emerge as you rebalance.
- A pain in your hip/knee/butt cheek may not actually be located in that area. You need specialist help to identify where you may need extra muscle building or mobility.
- A women’s specialist physiotherapist can conduct a ‘Mummy MOT’ to check you out, internally and externally. You can ask for this at the GP but the wait may be very long for a thorough assessment. I went privately to reduce wait and get answers to questions quickly.
- Keep moving, going for a walk every day was important for physical and mental wellness. Staying cooped up indoors is not good for your mental well being, even if its February and freezing!
- Building very slowly is still building, despite having moments of ‘I can’t do this’.
- Lower expectations.
Why do I think this post is relevant to anyone? What ever the story at the beginning, I think everyone’s journey to a post natal recovery will be slightly different. Some people may in fact not actually have any pain and be able to get straight back into exercise. Even if this is the case, your post natal body has changed and you need time to learn it again.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People train as specialists to be able to make sure they can help you. Don’t suffer in silence in pain.