Postpartum

Everything You Need to Know about Healing Your Pelvic Floor

@amandasunnyside

@amandasunnyside

One of the hardest parts of having a baby is that most women don’t know there is a whole other trimester to follow the three others where you house and grow a baby. So much preparation and attention is given to your pregnancy and delivery, and often very little information is provided about aftercare for a new mom.

A week after delivering my son, I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and still in pain. It burned when I peed. I was scared to poop. My vagina was still bleeding. And, I could barely sit because of the pain.

I did not know what to expect after childbirth, but this situation was not it.

The fourth trimester is often considered a time of transition for a newborn from the womb to the world. However, it is also a time of transition for a woman as her body is healing and recovering from the past 10 months of pregnancy and then labor/delivery.

During this time the pelvis, abdominal muscles, and vagina are also healing. Here are some strategies that can help recovery.

Trauma to the vaginal tissues from a vaginal tear or episiotomy can cause pain with peeing and pooping and difficulty sitting. For the first several days, ice is your best friend:

  1. Use an ice pack, bag of frozen peas, or a pad-sicle (a witch hazel soaked pad that you freeze and wear in your underwear) on the vagina for 20-30 minutes. This will help decrease swelling and inflammation.
  2. Sitting on a cushion and taking a sitz bath can feel soothing to healing tissues.
  3. You can also start performing kegels on day one following delivery. This may be the last thing on your mind, but performing these exercises early on and often can actually increase blood flow to the vaginal area to promote healing.
  4. Following a vaginal tear or episiotomy, scar massage can start 6 weeks after delivery by using small amount of vitamin E or coconut oil and gently massaging the healed incision for a few minutes a day.

Peeing may be difficult and painful initially due to the anesthesia, healing tissue, and shock to your pelvic floor muscles:

  1. Drinking plenty of water, walking around, running water, or soaking in a warm bath can help relax your muscles and initiate your stream.
  2. Use a squirt bottle to spray warm water on your vagina during and after urination and then pat dry with tissue instead of wiping.
  3. Urinary leakage may occur immediately after delivery as well. This should gradually improve and be completely resolved at 3 months.

Drinking plenty of fluids will help get you back to pooping normally:

  1. To avoid straining when you poop, use good positioning by placing your feet on a stool, leaning forward, and exhaling as you gently bear down. This helps relax your pelvic floor muscles and prevent hemorrhoids, prolapse, or damage to incisions.
  2. Stool softeners or fiber supplements may also be helpful in the early days, especially if you had any anesthesia.

Following a cesarean section, taking care of your scar and retraining your abdominals right away are essential:

  1. Most women may benefit from using ice over the incision site for 1-2 weeks and an abdominal binder for 2-6 weeks after surgery.
  2. You can also start to perform gentle belly breathing, start walking around (making sure you stand upright and not slouch), and do gentle abdominal and pelvic floor muscle contractions to initiate regaining muscle strength and function.
  3. Immediately following a C-section, perform scar massage using two fingers placed 3-6 inches away from incision and make small circular motions to promote blood flow. Once the once scar heals around 4-6 weeks, start massaging directly over scar.

As you start to get more rested and initial healing has taken place, gradually increase your activity levels. Start taking longer walks, progress your pelvic floor exercises to performing 8-12 contractions 3 times a day of quick and endurance holds, and wait until about 6 weeks before attempting more vigorous activity, including having sex. Rebecca is stricter than I am on timing of exercise in LMH, so do what feels best for your body. However, please give yourself at least the first six weeks postpartum to build up your activity level to vigorous levels of exercise.

The 3 months following the birth of your child can be exhilarating, exhausting, adventurous, and overwhelming. So much focus is put on this tiny beautiful human being, rightfully so, but make sure you are also getting the nourishment, care and healing you need. Our hope is that this info helps heal not only your vagina, but also your heart and soul during this tender fourth trimester.

Sara Reardon is a Doctor of Physical Therapy specializing in pelvic health, helping women across the lifespan optimize bladder and bowel health, sexual health, and pregnancy and the postpartum period. She is a practicing clinician, educator, and author in the field women's health physiotherapy. She helps fix what can go wrong with a woman's body, and she is passionate about focusing on what can go right. She is a momma, New Orleans native, and wanna be yogi.

Hanging Out with The Girls

Getty

Getty

Today's post is written by our resident Women's Health Therapist, Meredith Larrabee, PsyD. 

After I posted a picture of a card from LMH on Insta the other week, she texted right away, "I wanna see more pics of boobs after nursing- to normalize it. Great we see nursing moms. Now? Show the after effects. Trust me: there is likely a direct correlation for many women between sagging tits and depression."

So we are, today. She wrote the words. I collected the images from mother lovers around all over. 

The comments are turned off to protect the vulnerability and integrity of the moms who were willing to expose themselves fully. We LOVE their hearts and having the ability to take such a brave leap (and share) deserves deep respect. 

xo,
Rebecca

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“Your breasts may or may not return to their pre-breastfeeding size or shape.Some women's breasts stay large, and others shrink. But sagging or staying full can be as much a result of genetics, weight gain during pregnancy, and age as a result of breastfeeding.”
                                                                     –babycenter.com

Maybe you have read about how women’s breasts can change during pregnancy, nursing and childbirth; but, like most things with pregnancy, you don’t know what is going to happen to you… and what won't.

For example, some women really like their breasts during pregnancy because they are “fuller”, while others hate how large they become because lets face it, there is a point where they get so sensitive you cant run or exercise without pain, your bras don’t fit, and they are just…enormous.

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And then there is the after.

The after of nursing and pregnancy can mean a number of things for boobs, but for some, its shocking. I remember a close friend of mine who kept commenting on her horrific “post nursing breasts." 

Honestly, she has always been prone to exaggeration, and is often dramatic and self-aggrandizing in service of making me laugh so I assumed that was the case. I mean I knew that most people experienced a “loss of fullness,” or stretch marks, but whatever, right?

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How bad could it be? 

You should know that while she was nursing her boobs were truly glorious. She is a petite, athletic gal and usually an A cup so when they ballooned to a DD she thought it was fun! And they looked unreal…almost. prosthetic. She had huge, perfectly round ta-ta’s. 

 

So one day, while drinking endless cups of coffee and hanging with our 1 year olds I challenged her. She kept referring to “bags of skin” and I said, “I don’t believe you. I wanna see ‘em. They can’t be THAT BAD.” 

So she set her coffee down, and flashed me.

 

Look I’m not gonna lie to you, and I didn’t to her. They were exactly what she had been saying, “Two empty deflated bags of skin.” I was stunned. The point is that going from small chested to Pamela Anderson , andthen to this, was truly disfiguring.

It had psychological and emotional consequences for her; and no, she didn’t get implants or anything. I know she considered it for a hot minute, but she felt alot of shame about it. She didn’t want her husband to see her boobs and it took her awhile to grieve the loss of what they once were (not the Pamela Anderson's, but the little A’s).

When you hear women say their boobs are "messed up" from nursing, you should know what it might mean. And know, that like other parts of our body that transform in pregnancy, these can really change dramatically, too.

And lastly, what you do with your boobs is up to you, wholeheartedly up to you as long as you feel good and confident hanging out with your girls. 

 

 

"In Need of Grounding."

"Every age has its turn, every branch of the tree has to learn. Learn to grow, find it's way. Make the best of this short little stay...take your time, build a home, build a place where we can all belong"
- José González

Last week, I received an email from a mom and the subject line read, "In need of grounding and woo woo websites." Two of my favorite words! She was looking for some insight on seasonal shifts and how to help our bodies adapt, as well as our souls. The beautiful part was when she said, "I'm trying to change my life to something better, one that I truly want while I work full time and have less and less time for myself." We are all, and I love this!  

My first contact with "the woo-woo" was when I was 19. We had a rocky family moment and I lost my shit. More or less. I was a driven, pre-med student with my eyes set on med school straight out of college, residency done by 29 and family started. When it all broke loose, I started to look for things that helped me understand the depth of life. Something bigger than myself that would help me heal. 

I explored the new age phenomena in books and experiences. Yoga and meditation were two early practices that helped me pull the pieces back together again, and some therapy.

Even though I didn't go to med school, I pursued my intense interest in studying the origins of medicine, and how we heal as I continued throughout my college days. Ultimately, I graduated with a minor in holistic health and alternative medicine from a hippy school in Arizona. My major, education.

In order to dive into this question of grounding, connection with the earth, and seasonal changes I'm going to do a little series for the next couple weeks.

Each week, I'll add some websites to the posts that I go to regularly for insight, grounding, and connection.

The first go-to for me is something a teacher reminded me of recently, as life has been clipping by with opportunities and experiences that I never dreamed of experiencing. Sometimes, I've been completely overwhelmed an run down and this simple activity brought me back to center.

I have a teacher I've worked with for 10 years, she's taught and guided me through some incredibly hard years and beautiful ones too. The bright/messy years. Recently we talked and she said, "You have so many things coming at you all at once. Make sure you get outside, work in the garden, get your hands in the earth, go for a run, just be out and moving. It'll keep you grounded."

When I start feeling overwhelmed, outside I go. Sometimes I just sit or lay on the ground, and breathe. Other times I work in the garden, go for a run, do something in the yard or walk around, but also I take the time to stop, look up and absorb the energy (yep, woo-woo) that is the sunlight coming through the trees as they change colors or the wind rustling through the trees. 

Not rocket science, or even something you don't know, but if I had to be reminded I bet it helps you to have the reminder too. So many of us right now busy ourselves and it gets too hard to stop, and give ourselves time to just be. 

Try it this week if you feel frazzled. Take yourself outside and ground down. 

Regular go-to-woo-woo websites:
Chani Nicholas (astrology) 
Georgia Nicols (like having your grandmother tell you about the stars; she's awesome!)
Vidya Living (ayurveda, yoga, coolness factor on high, love Claire and what she offers)
The Local Rose (Shiva Rose's blog + follow her IG, she's lovely)

Do you have any simple grounding techniques you love? Let us know in the comments below. 

More on this topic next week! Until then, shine on and have a beautiful week.

Big Love!
XO, Rebecca