Should I bother addressing postpartum issues such as weakness or leaking if I plan on getting pregnant again? Won’t I just ruin all the hard work I do in my next pregnancy?
It can be tempting to put off taking care of your body after having a baby if you plan on being pregnant again in the next few years. I get it. I remember finding out I was pregnant again soon after I started to feel fully recovered and strong after the birth of my first baby. I put in a lot of effort to recover and build my strength……and now I was going to have to do it again? I hear a lot of moms tell me that they got into shape before getting pregnant with their first, like their brain knew that they needed to prepare for the marathon ahead. But this same dedication to prepare for a subsequent pregnancy doesn’t happen as frequently and I hope I can convince you that it is even more important to rehabilitate your body in between pregnancies. And that yes, it is possible even with a toddler running around.
We go into a first pregnancy with the innate support of our muscles, connective tissue and ligaments holding our spine and pelvis together. During the first pregnancy, those structures stretch and that support system is now not as stable as it once was. This is the reason that it is very common for women to experience more discomfort in subsequent pregnancies; not only has the structures that hold you together been stretched but your brain is not as connected to your muscles as it may have been before (see prior blog for more about this). When you go into another pregnancy with these muscles still in a disconnected and weakened state, you will likely feel more uncomfortable. The best thing to do is to reconnect and strengthen these muscles back to an efficient state to provide your body with the support it needs for an increased comfort level in a subsequent pregnancy AND maintain that connection during your next pregnancy.
Another reason it is important to recover your muscle connection in between pregnancies is that abdominal separations are more common in subsequent pregnancies as the abdominal tissue is stretched out again. When you go into another pregnancy without restoring the needed support for your abdominal tissue, the normal separation that occurs at the end of the 3rd trimester, may have lasting effects such as creating a separation that wasn’t there previously or increasing the size and depth of one that occurred in a prior pregnancy. If you do have a separation from a prior pregnancy, it is even more important that you properly heal the separation between pregnancies and continue with proper exercises to support the separation during the next pregnancy.
Pelvic health is another reason to proper heal postpartum even if you plan on a future pregnancy. The more babies that have passed through the vagina equals a higher chance for pelvic conditions including pelvic floor dysfunctions (either a weak and inactive pelvic floor or an overactive and tight pelvic floor), prolapse and incontinence.
The final reason for rehabilitating your body in between pregnancies is that you will feel better! Each time we give our body over to growing, birthing and feeding a baby, we tend to feel a disconnect to our bodies and to ourselves. Postpartum physical therapy helps reconnect you with your body so that you feel good in your own skin and you feel ready to take on all that motherhood throws at us!