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I was so nervous for my first, 6-week postpartum check up, and totally shocked by my experiences that followed my check up. I remember getting ready to go in the room, new baby asleep in the car seat and waiting patiently for my doctor to come in. The experience itself was simple, quick and at-fist such a relief. I was given the okay and told everything healed great.
What I wasn’t told was so much more. I walked out of there feeling happy that I survived my first birth and recovered by 6-weeks like you are “supposed” too. But, there was so much my doctor didn’t tell me, and some utterly painful experiences I hope to shed some light on, just in case you go through them yourself!
First, Healed Doesn’t Mean Normal:
When my doctor told me everything healed great, I thought that meant everything was going to feel just fine. Things weren’t fine. I was healed in the sense that the small tear was back together, but little did I know there was scar tissue that developed that made things very uncomfortable and painful at times. If you do experience tearing at all during birth, your body may look find to the doctor on the outside, but scar tissue can develop that you can’t see, or even know is there.
Second, Physical Therapy Is An Option:
After seeing my doctor again, a few weeks later, I was told that I could see a postpartum, physical therapist to help me. I had no idea this existed, but it really was super helpful. I saw a specialist who helped break down my scar tissue with an ultrasound machine. She was also able to tell me that my muscles were working well and engaging. The information she gave me, and helpful visits for about a month really made a difference. It was also totally awkward, but I got over it quick.
Third, Time Means Everything:
I assumed because my doctor said I was healed, and 6-weeks is the benchmark for getting back to normal after having a baby I should’ve been feeling great. I soon learned, and my physical therapist helped with this, that with your first baby, you sometimes just need more time to let your body adjust. It can take months before you feel okay and semi-comfortable again. I thought because it was taking me longer, something was wrong. Really, it’s completely okay, and expected to take longer to get back to normal. With my second and third babies, I had much easier deliveries and recoveries.
Fourth, You Know If You Are Healed:
Your doctor sees the surface of what’s happened. Your gut will tell you if something isn’t quite right. It took me some convincing because my doctor originally wanted to give me an anti-anxiety pill. They thought it was all in my head because I appeared to be healed just as expected. When I continued to complain, I was offered the physical therapy as an option. Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor that you don’t think you are better, even if they say you are. Ultimately, you need to tell your doctor if you think you are healing well. It seems that they get to tell you, but you can tell them with confidence what your gut and experiences are telling you.
Fifth, Postpartum Exercise is Great:
Your doctor may give you a sheet with some exercises, but little else. Make sure you start re-building your muscles again as soon as you can. This will help your healing process. Stretching, postpartum Pilates and more encourage your muscles and body to come back together. Here’s the postpartum fitness routine I do before I even get to 6 weeks.
I really hope my postpartum healing experience helps encourage you if you aren’t feeling fantastic by 6 weeks. There’s so much more going on, and it’s normal! Don’t worry, and don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor over and over to find a solution. Time does wonders as well, and it’s okay if you need more of it!