Written by: Jen Landry, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
It is time that the pregnant and postpartum world gets an overhaul. What we knew then is not what we know now and how it needs to change today.
In 2022, pregnant and postpartum women are still being told the same myths that their mothers and grandmothers were told decades ago. However, as science improves our understanding of things, and more and more people are discussing women’s health, more needs to be done.
I am a personal trainer for almost 12 years now and a mother of two for almost 6 years now. My certification as well as some continuing education credits I have taken include or focus on women having children, but unfortunately, I thought that was enough. After having my second daughter, I was having a lot of hip and back pain. It was debilitating and made life impossible. After seeing my doctor and a pelvic floor physical therapist, I still wasn’t satisfied with my answers and progress. I decided to figure it out myself, so I started looking it up. I stumbled across the Pregnancy and Postpartum Corrective Exercises Certification, it was like nothing I had ever seen before. It was extensive, more inclusive, and well researched. So I decided to get it. After discovering how little I knew compared to how much I thought I knew, it was clear how much misinformation was out there. I had to get involved. There are 4 myths that I hear over and over. They need to be debunked and changed today!
1. Myth ‒ 6 Weeks Postpartum Means Clearance for Life Again.
Busted: 6 Weeks Postpartum is an average for healing as a new mom. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recently changed this to suggest women come in as early as 3 weeks and then again before 12 weeks.
Ask any new mom and she will tell you she is excited for and makes big plans for after her 6-week check-up. It is when we all get cleared unless something is very wrong for exercise, sex, and life as normal. At a 6-week check-up, women should have a full exam that checks to make sure organs are returning to normal, ovaries are okay, breasts are healthy and any incisions are healing properly. There is usually a mental health screening and check at this appointment as well. This is usually a hard stop for postpartum care. Once a mother is cleared, she only returns to see her OBGYN for an annual visit or if something is wrong.
Why this was changed has a lot to do with individual changes and healing processes. If a mother can have a conversation with her OBGYN in the first 3 weeks, it is possible to get a hold of mental health issues sooner, make sure there are no infections and healing is on track. Then it will need to be followed up again to make sure nothing has changed drastically since the 3-week appointment.
Knowing and understanding that each woman who has a child will experience everything from pregnancy to postpartum differently is key to the success of their wellness. Some may be fully healed and ready as soon as 6 weeks while others may take longer.
It is also important to understand that the health of the pelvic floor and muscles that aid in breathing, core strength, and pelvis stability should also be included in a check before allowing the mom to return to exercise and sex as normal. I will touch on this further with some of the other Myths.
2. Myth ‒ Leaking is Normal Postpartum
Busted: Leaking is COMMON but not normal. Lots of women have leaking after babies. In fact, it is often a running joke about women with children. This can be due to a few different reasons such as a tight pelvic floor, a weak pelvic floor, poor intra-abdominal pressure management, and a host of other reasons. Most of these imbalances that lead to leaking can be traced back to prepregnancy posture or pregnancy itself. This is where having a pelvic floor physical therapist as part of women’s health would be extremely beneficial.
I firmly believe that it should be standard care to start seeing a pelvic floor PT as soon as you discover you are pregnant. You should go confirm pregnancy with an OBGYN and start your prenatal care with them, then immediately begin seeing a pelvic floor PT. They can help you learn to adjust your posture, strength, and pressure management as you go through pregnancy and can be a guide postpartum as well.
A pelvic floor PT should still be part of postpartum care, especially immediately after the birth of your baby. They can be very helpful with the internal exams and work on your pelvic floor. However, finding a pregnancy and postpartum certified personal trainer as you return to life and exercise as normal can be extremely beneficial. They can guide women in pressure management, exercises, and proper strength training. The combination of a pelvic floor PT and proper trainer can really help stop the leaking and prevent it from getting worse. The same is true for other postpartum symptoms like prolapse and Diastasis Recti.
3. Myth ‒ Not Everyone has a Diastasis Recti
Busted: Everyone has a Diastasis Recti (DR) during pregnancy. A Diastasis Recti is the separation of the abs at the linea alba the tissue between the sides of your “six-pack”. All women who experience pregnancy will have one. It is how women make more room for the baby. What is important is how the tissues recover and function during and after pregnancy.
Often, women who do not know how to manage their pressure and put a lot of extra tension on the linea alba will have more issues such as back pain, prolapse, leaking, and other such symptoms during and after birth. This will often translate to bad habits postpartum as well as continued pressure management issues that will need to be corrected as soon as possible. This is where pelvic floor therapy or a proper trainer would be helpful as well. A pelvic floor PT or a certified trainer can correctly guide women from the inside out; while a proper trainer can help guide women from the outside, including movements of daily living.
When you have a diastasis recti, it is important to understand that when it comes to “healing”, the depth and tension of the gap are much more important than the width of the gap. Working closely with a PT or trainer who can guide you to maintain good tension and pressure management through a variety of movements will help heal your DR. Having someone on your side who can guide you through pregnancy and postpartum can maximize a mom's quality of life and a happy mom means happier kids.
4. Myth ‒ All Moms Bounce Back the Same Way
Busted: Everyone has a bounce-back unique to them. Just like I mentioned with the 6-week clearance, each journey is unique. The differences in hormones, body structure, strength, weakness, and compensations are all just a small part of the picture. Some women never have complications during or after pregnancy, some women do not know they have complications until later in life, and some are immediately affected and miserable.
The key is to understand that what we see on social media, in the news, and even within friend circles, is that you should not bounce back like a “perfect person”. You are a unique individual so your recovery and process should be unique as well.
Therefore I agree with the ACOG, pelvic floor PTs, and certified personal trainers like myself, that having a comprehensive approach to women’s health during and after pregnancy can be crucial to the well-being of mom. Right now, it is the missing link between good and great health education and something more OBGYNs need to get on board with.
We cannot stop here. We need to be talking about it, sharing it, and making sure to educate as many mothers as possible. Life after baby is possible without symptoms. There is a lot of great science and research already out there, and more is being done. However, it is not making it to the masses fast enough. Change needs to happen so today’s generation can be even better off than the last two or three.
If you want to dive a little deeper and ask more questions feel free to join our Moms Fit Life Facebook Group today!
I also have lots of great programs as well as a Fit Guide for you to try today. I offer some private courses that cannot be purchased without an email to me!
Reach out if you have any further questions at any time!
Live your life confidently!
Jen Landry, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Jen Landry is a leader in functional fitness. She specializes in pregnant, postpartum and everyday women. As a mother of two little girls and two pregnancies that left Jen feeling weak, broken and in need of answers, she discovered the Pregnancy and Postpartum Corrective Exercise Certification. Obtaining this certification changed the way Jen looked at pregnancy and postpartum fitness as well as female health in general. It ignited a fire to help as many women as possible, so they could avoid what Jen experienced. She is the CEO and Owner of Moms Fit Life. Her Mission: Teach Moms they can trust their bodies again and rock mom life with confidence!