This is a picture of me, my scrunchy and my first child, when he was three months old. I just finished running part of the Banff Ekiden Relay. A 42.2km relay race, split into five sections. I ran the fourth leg - a 5.9km race with, as I recall, a stupid hill somewhere in there.
My running buddy Jen and I after the race
I look at that picture now and think: "What the hell was I thinking?"
You know what I was thinking? Get the pre-baby body back. Get back to the fitness level I was at before I was pregnant. Go out, get that heart rate up and sweat! My doc gave me the OK at 6 weeks, so why not?
Josh's birth was traumatic. After many, many hours of labour, forceps, vacuum, episiotomy, and in the end the doctor yelling "We need to get the baby out NOW" the little bugger came out screaming and healthy. I went about my business and at 6 weeks, my doc said - "Yep, you're good to go." So I started running again. And I joined a stroller bootcamp. And I leaked when doing any running or jumping. But I thought it was normal. I thought that's just what happened after a baby. There was no mention of pelvic floor recovery, rehab or safe postnatal exercises. No talk of pelvic floor dysfunction. Nothing about how the hormones (and breastfeeding) affect your body. Nope. 10 years ago - nothing. Everyone applauded me for getting back to it so soon after he was born.
The urinary incontinence wasn't horrible, and it got better. But until recently, NINE YEARS AFTER THE BIRTH OF MY SON, I still leaked when running or doing certain jumping exercises. Not a lot. But that doesn't make it right. Or normal. So, I saw a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and practiced Julie Wiebe's Piston breathing strategy, and I have resolved my issue.
But you know what? Even if you're not experiencing symptoms, it doesn't mean you can't create them. You may not leak now, but you may be gripping and holding tension in your pelvic floor. This can lead to pelvic floor dysfunctions in the future. EVEN IF your baby was delivered by C-section.
I SHOULD HAVE BEEN...
- Taking the time to heal and enjoy those first few months
- Connecting my core and pelvic floor
- Walking with my baby (or without him!)
- Working with a pelvic floor physiotherapist
- Strength training, with proper alignment and breathing
For me, and my postpartum recovery, I should not have been running. I should have focused on recovery and rehab so that I could get back to running without symptoms!
One Day Old
This is not to say that every mother is like me. This is my story and everyone's is different. But what I've learned over the years and what recently has been the focus of the Pregnancy and Postpartum Athleticism course is that POSTPARTUM IS FOREVER. And that...
"Slow is fast when you're making a return to activity postpartum. You need to build that baseline first, hone that foundation, so that you CAN make a strong return. So that you are setting yourself UP, not setting yourself BACK by the choices you make postpartum." - Brianna Battles
You CAN get back to doing the things you love.
Take your time. Have patience. You will get there.