Endure Run Conquer

Patience. Persistence. Perseverance.

Postpartum Care – The Things Nobody Tells You and Why It Needs to Change

postpartum-care

I am shocked at how little (if at all) that women are educated about the stresses of labor, giving birth, and their bodies postpartum. Having a baby is a huge physical stressor. Yet the extent of care that most women receive is a 1-2 night hospital stay and a sparse computer printout containing general discharge instructions. There are so many things that nobody talks about  (probably because most of it is pretty gross and embarrassing). The only “heads up” I had was from my close friends during hushed conversations. But why? Why are we so ashamed to talk about something that so many women experience?

I was lucky. I had a short labor and minimal pushing. While I did have some scary moments during labor due to stacking contractions, the overall time that my body spent in “distress” was much shorter than most. I was certain that this meant that I would rebound fairly quickly and be back to my normal workout regimen in no time. However, that was far from reality.

When I had my hip surgery, I received very clear instructions from the surgeon as to how to prepare my body for the stresses of surgery (both before and after). I had a very intense physical therapy protocol (both home exercises and 3x a week office visits). My doctor and my physical therapist each worked with me to create a clear path to returning to my optimal activity level.

Giving birth is very different. And it shouldn’t be. I know that the issues that I am facing are not uncommon – but they are things that no doctor ever warned me about. I have a weak pelvic floor. I have abdominal separation. I have other internal issues as well. The only reason I know this is because when I tried to resume physical activity – things felt wrong. Not just “I just had a baby” wrong – but wrong wrong. My OB knew that I was a runner but never mentioned any of these warning signs or things that I may be feeling.  She never mentioned the conditions that I am now receiving treatment for. I was lucky that she had no problem making a referral to a women’s PT practice – but had I not requested it I don’t know if I would ever have been referred for treatment. During my pregnancy nobody mentioned the pelvic floor or recommended that I do exercises to strengthen prior to giving birth. Unfortunately, this seems to be the case for most women. It truly is a shame.

I encourage all women to educate themselves and to learn to be their own advocates. Being in good physical shape does NOT necessarily correlate to an easy recovery. The pelvic floor is a whole separate area of fitness that I wish I had understood sooner. Certain damage is inevitable – but the extent of it can be mitigated.  Why are our doctors not talking about it? Why are women not being educated about this? Why is treatment not being offered and encouraged? When so many women experience one issue or another – why aren’t we talking about it more?

Here’s to opening the conversation. Let’s talk about it. 
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2 Comments

  1. I’m so sorry. This IS frustrating and it’s true, postpartum care is horribly lacking…and for some completely non existent. I, however, did have a great doctor (a primary care and OB all in one) who helped me a lot up until she retired 3 months after the baby was born. I knew all about the pelvic floor (partially from my own research, reading other mother runner blogs, and being encouraged by friends to do my research) and was able to ask her a lot of questions. Now, however, at 9 months postpartum I am still having some leaking with high impact movements and am going to consult a specialist. A friend of mine is a PT and she says that most of her female clients never think to ask about leakage because they just think it’s normal…like there isn’t something they could do about it. And even if they do learn what they can do, a lot of women don’t actually stick with the exercises to make it better. As opposed to men (who can also have weak pelvic floor issues) who tend to freak out and will do whatever it takes to fix it.

    • EndureRunConquer

      February 5, 2017 at 2:34 pm

      It’s crazy, isn’t it? There is a whole world of issues that nobody talks about, despite the fact that SO MANY women run! In my opinion, seeing a specialist is so worth it! 🙂

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