Chronic pain, Self-care, yoga

Postpartum Recovery – Resources You Can Use at Home (and how to avoid the mistake that led me to chronic pain)

In my case, my postpartum journey started at the beginning of the COVID-19 journey here in Canada. I was walking well in the first few weeks, and nothing seemed unusual at my 6 week follow up. Unfortunately, my pelvic muscles weren’t as strong as I needed them, and somewhere between 8 and 12 weeks I used a play pen for the first time. Picking up my baby I felt things snap. I know enough about mechanical back injuries that I thought I could handle the rehab alone (and Physios, Chiros, NDs, RMTs, my GP and EVERYONE was shut down except the emergency room).

Shows my poor posture after pregnancy
At 8 months post partum, I still had the low back pain and anterior pelvic tilt normal for 8 months into pregnancy

So that’s my first suggestion. Don’t try to DIY your post-partum journey. It isn’t the same as a regular muscle, joint or even disk injury. Your pelvis may not have stabilized, your abdominals haven’t recovered from pregnancy, and your posture hasn’t recovered. Instead of a quick 2-4 week recovery, I spent 8 months frequently in too much pain to turn over, wincing when I lift 20 pounds of baby, and with a stabbing pain when I hopped down out of our car.

I very strongly suggest working with your pre-and post natal medical team postpartum. Shoulder, back, neck, hip, glute and arm injuries are common, and most new parents don’t have the energy to work on themselves. Even your regular RMT, physio or acupuncturist may want to take extra training to strengthen their knowledge of how your body knits itself back together post-partum – it’s just as incredible as the journey of pregnancy itself.

Any injury that lasts more than 3 months counts as chronic pain, and this is the stage I was in when I visited my amazing acupuncturist Talitha Reis. With her help I finally started to apply everything I know. I’m still recovering, and now mainly self managing the injury. Because I’ve left it so long, it ended up aggravating my hips, pelvis and low back.

My current maintenance plan revolves around these two videos online, because baby brain means I like someone talking me through everything:

I do 5 minutes of pilates core work to strengthen (I don’t want or need a flat belly, I need a strong body): https://youtu.be/vt-9sMWqUsc

And I choose yoga videos that help me release my muscles and fascia: https://youtu.be/ydtmPONM-rw

I’ve also worked in live online classes with the phenomenal Changdu, whose great feedback made me feel like I was back in the studio.

And when I needed more stretches and strengthening exercises the free information available from The Postpartum Trainer were invaluable.

As a professional, what I’ve learned from my postpartum experience is that we, as a healthcare community, need to tune in and do our best for post partum bodies. I’m registered in additional pre-and post partum training, as well as a class in assessing and treating pelvic floor issues.

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