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Recovery & Rehab after Vaginal Delivery

Navigating recovery after childbirth can be challenging, as there is so much conflicting information out there. My goal is provide evidence based recommendations, however, this cannot be considered medical advice or treatment. Feel free to book in for an in-person or virtual assessment to create an individualized program just for you. 

0 - 2 weeks

REST and healing are the most important part of this phase, but you can begin with simple breathing exercises to link with your pelvic floor and deep core system. Start in a comfortable position, INHALE with your belly and relax through your pelvic floor muscles and stomach. EXHALE and "ramp" up to engage your pelvic floor and notice how this slightly engages your deep core muscles as well. If you find yourself "bracing" through movements due to pain or fear, try exhaling with movement. For example, exhale to pick up the car seat, or exhale when you get out of bed.

If you are experiencing symptoms during this early phase, such as pressure, incontinence or pain, this can be normal, so don't panic. 

2 - 4 weeks

You're starting to feel better,  yay! But hold on, this phase is when we can over do it a bit. Respect the healing time frames, and please progress slowly as you start to increase your activity level. You can gradually be increasing your walking distance and time, but progress slowly. Pay attention to symptoms, such as pain, increase in fatigue, increase in bleeding, pressure/heaviness, incontinence or anything else that feels "off", and use these as a guide on how much activity to do. 

Continue with the breathing exercises, and when you are ready to progress, try adding in movement. For example, try dead bug heel taps, and exhale as you float your heel towards the floor. It's not so much about what exercise you choose during this phase, it's more about how you do it, and if you are breathing correctly and going slow and being mindful of how your body feels. 

4 - 6 weeks

Wondering when you can get back to your regular exercise? Let's have a chat! During this phase, I would suggest you start with some body weight exercises that mimic what activities you would like to return to. For example, if your goal is to hike the Chief, start with some body weight step ups. Again, the most important thing still being quality, breathing and respecting how your body feels. If you have questions, please connect with me (or another pelvic floor physiotherapist). You do not have to wait until the magical 6 week mark to book an appointment.

6 - 12 weeks

This is the phase where you can gradually start to return to some of the activities you love, while continuing to strengthen your pelvic floor and the rest of your body. Hopefully by now, you've had an assessment to tailor a plan to your specific goals and activities. Start slowly, listen to your body, and enjoy feeling a bit like yourself again. Have questions about when to start a specific sport or activity? Let's chat, it depends on what it is and what your background is. 

12 weeks + 

We do have some research on returning to running in the postpartum period, and it's not recommended to start running before 12 weeks. There is also some research to help us determine return to run readiness, and I can carry out a series of tests and assessments to determine if you are there yet. Keep in mind, true postpartum rehab is more like 12-18 months for tissue healing and connective tissue to come back to it's pre-pregnancy tensile strength. In this phase, keep strengthening and keeping increasing the weight if it feels good to do so. Don't be afraid to lift heavy if you have built up to it. Continue to slowly progress getting back into your activity and sports, and enjoy :)

Find me at LivWell Integrated Health, in Squamish BC.

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