Get Your Vag Checked
Fitness has always been like breathing for me. It is just part of my daily routine for as long as I can remember. Playing every sport imaginable from preschool to college and then moving into competitive fitness as an adult; it’s always been a priority. But when you have a baby, things shift. I always knew this would happen and it’s not a bad thing, it’s just something my brain and ego had to adjust to.
Recovery from pregnancy is not talked about much, especially for athletes. It’s more than just waiting for your four week check up to be “cleared” by your OB. Sure, my vagina is intact and my uterus is back to its normal size, but what about everything else that shifted over the past year of carrying a baby?
Long story short, I assumed after being pregnant with my second child my comeback would be easier. I already had been through it once, so the next should be a breeze, right?!
After resting for the first four weeks and getting cleared by my OB, I began working out again. Things were going as expected nothing out of the ordinary, until I started to notice some pelvic pain. Trying not to think too much into it, I continued and just wrote it off as soreness from exercising again. This would’ve totally been normal as I had taken a step back from my intense workout regime to a very modified variation while pregnant.
Things did not get better; in fact, the discomfort was getting worse. I reached out to my doctor who then referred me to a pelvic floor physical therapist (PT). Visiting a pelvic floor PT is actually a mandatory step in the recovery process for a postpartum woman in most European countries. Unfortunately, it’s barely spoken about in the US. Luckily, I was somewhat aware of this being a “thing” that women should consider doing after having a baby because pregnant Instagram influencers told me so. Never did I think I would need to go, but hey this was 2020 and basically anything could happen.
After some research on where to find a PT who specializes in this sort of thing and help from my primary doctor, I finally found a good fit for me. Not knowing really what to expect, I will say I was a little surprised how thorough pelvic floor PTs actually are. I mean she went over EVERYTHING, from what I eat, drink, how often I pee, pain with sex, an external exam, and internal exam. If you’ve had a baby before, you’ll know what I’m talking about, I feel basically everyone has seen my vagina at this point, so I was like do whatever you need to do! But honestly, it was so informative and not weird at all.
Turns out my pelvic floor was and is tight and loose at the same time (yup both). I also have diastasis recti, which is basically a separation of the rectus abdominis. So, without going too much into the science of it all, the reason this matters is because your pelvic floor is part of our bodies inner core. Literally the floor to our core that supports the pelvic organs- bladder, bowel, and uterus. The outer core is our superficial muscles including the rectus abdominis, obliques, lats, glutes, and erector spinae. The whole core works TOGETHER. So, you can see if everything is not strengthened the way it should be then it won’t work soundly. This can cause problems like mine. Having a baby can weaken this system, put a lot of pressure on, and make your core work really hard.
This is why it’s so important to take the appropriate steps to strengthen this system pre- and post- baby to avoid or minimize problems like mine. This is so much more common than people think and should be talked about. I highly suggest as a woman and as a mother to visit a pelvic floor PT whether or not you have symptoms or issues. Your baby F’ed your shit up down there and the least you can do is have someone take a look. Baby gets a lot of attention after birth because of the cuteness overload that has been brought to this earth, but YOU Mama, also need to take care of you-physically, emotionally, and mentally.
After experiencing this firsthand and realizing there isn’t a lot out there on the pelvic floor after birth and how to recover properly, I decided to make it my mission to help others who have or will experience something similar to what happened to me. I created a program called the Mom Sessions based off of a course I took called Pregnancy and Postpartum Athleticism. This program educates women on everything pelvic floor, why it’s important to be proactive, and specific tools to help strengthen your pelvic floor. The Mom Session won’t launch until the Spring of 2021, but I do post lots of information and exercises @themomsession on Instagram. Keep following along for more on The Mom Session launch!