Postpartum checkups are par for the course, as they should be. If you’ve had a c-section, you will probably have a checkup at 2 weeks to see how your incision is healing. Then, you’ll go back in for your 6-week checkup. Your doctor will ask you how you’ve been feeling, check on your incision, give you an internal exam and possibly screen you for postpartum depression. If everything seems like it’s going ok, they will tell you that you are fine to resume all your normal activities, including exercise and sex. Here’s why that “good to go” might not be all-encompassing.
1. Your Doctor Doesn’t Know It All
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against OB/GYNs. We desperately need them. But monitoring your gynecological health and delivering babies is their scope. They aren’t experts on exercise, they aren’t experts on sexual health with your partner, and they’re not experts on pelvic floor physical therapy. All too often, even if you express a concern you have during this 6-week checkup, you’ll be told that it’s “normal” to be experiencing whatever you mentioned, and that’s that. (If this is the response you get, you need a new doctor!) Ideally, for you to make a full, healthy, successful recovery to normal life and fitness, you need a team. Your doctor, a pelvic floor physical therapist, and a postpartum fitness coach. Working together, within our respective scopes of practice, we will be able to provide you the best care!
2. You May Not Be Fully Healed at 6 Weeks
Your body may take longer to heal. Your complications be they tears, weak pelvic floor muscles, or a slowly healing incision can all contribute to whether or not you’re ready to get right back into all your pre-pregnancy activities. Even if you are healing well, you need to progressively resume high demand activities, particularly when relating to exercise. Your body has changed significantly and you’re going to have to reestablish that mind-body connection.
This is also why I HIGHLY recommend that every postpartum woman sees a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist postpartum. A PFPT will be able to tell you if there’s any underlying issues or weaknesses that need to be addressed moving forward.
3. You May Not Be Mentally Prepared
Recovering from any delivery, whether vaginal or c-section, can be difficult. Perhaps you had a very traumatic birth; maybe you had a birth plan that went completely out the window when delivery started; maybe you’ve had a tough time connecting with your new baby. There is a whole host of reasons why you could have mental roadblocks to being “good to go” at 6 weeks postpartum. If you’ve been feeling any challenges similar to the ones listed here, please enlist the help of a therapist that specializes in postpartum care – they can help you make great strides with your mental health!
I don’t have all the answers. Neither does your doctor. Neither does your Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist. We all work together to give you the best care possible. If you need help finding any of these resources, please reach out to me!