Believe it or not, that can be a difficult question for your care provider (but one you should definitely be asking your doctor or midwife before starting any program). Most women can start some light exercises in the first week or two after delivery, but since each woman and each pregnancy are different, there’s no standard answer. It’s often easier for doctors and midwives to tell patients what not to do; it can be tricky to come up with a list of acceptable exercises on the spot.
That’s where your free Dear Doctor packets come in! Print out the packet that best suits your situation and give it to your doctor or midwife. Each packet has the initial exercises for a progression that will incorporate rehabilitation, functional and athletic movements, and injury prevention. Your doctor or midwife can view the list of exercises and choose which exercises are safe for you right after delivery. There’s also space for her to list any special notes for you, as well as exercise precaution reminders, all in one packet!
Some women are prescribed an abdominal wrap after having a baby, and some purchase an abdominal wrap on their own. If your doctor, midwife, physical therapist, or other medical care provider prescribed an abdominal wrap to you as part of a treatment plan, you should wear it.
Reasons for prescribing may include, though are not limited to, a healing C-section incision, part of your diastasis recti treatment (an abdominal wrap is by no means a part of all diastasis recti treatment plans, but it is necessary in a few cases), or a pelvic belt as a part of a program to help you manage your posterior pelvic pain.
If you are considering wearing the wrap to help with postpartum pain or distress only, there was a 2016 study that showed abdominal wraps don’t actually help like we once thought they did. If you’re wearing an abdominal wrap for cosmetic reasons, I’ve got an alternative suggestion for you that involves retraining your own muscles, and you can read all about it and more on this topic here.
Your doctor or midwife will likely give you the go-ahead to run as soon as your nether-region has healed. Since pregnancy and delivery affect a whole lot more than your nether-region, and since running involves a lot more of your body than your nether-region, I recommend you meet 3 basic criteria before running.
1) Your doctor has given you approval to run.
2) You can walk at least 2 miles in 30 minutes (with a stroller if you intend to run with a jogging stroller).
3) You are able to perform at least at Level 3 of the Sahrmann progression.
Note: this is not a substitution for medical advice from your own medical care provider.
You can find run progressions for both solo running and running with a jogging stroller in the store.
You should adhere to the safety recommendations that came with your stroller. Though reasons for the wait vary from stroller to stroller, 3 big reasons are:
1) Jogging strollers typically lack the head and neck support that a young baby needs
2) There’s a lot more movement and vibration involved with a stroller ride with mom running vs. walking, and jogging strollers that recommend waiting to run have not tested adverse effects of that added movement and vibration for a young baby.
3) Using an infant car seat with an adapter kit is okay for walking (and for most jogging strollers recommended for additional head and neck support), but running with this configuration makes the jogging stroller top-heavy and at risk for tipping over.
You can read about the details here.
No! After the first 6-8 weeks after delivery, leaking urine with effort, or stress incontinence, should resolve on its own. But for about 1/3 of new moms, that doesn’t happen. If you find yourself in that position, a women’s health physical therapist can help. Of those who get help from a women’s health physical therapist, 73% will experience complete resolution of symptoms and 97% will experience significant improvement. You can read more about incontinence after pregnancy here.
When you see a women’s health physical therapist, she’ll take a detailed history to discuss your concerns, your goals, and the particulars of your situation. Then she’ll do a physical exam of your pelvic muscles, including your pelvic floor muscles.
You can read about the details here. Not every examination includes an internal exam (especially if you’re not comfortable with it – just let her know).
Once the examination is complete she’ll develop a treatment plan that may include exercises, biofeedback, and other treatments that are designed to help you reach both short and long term goals.