“You don’t even look like you had a baby!” people say, as if it is the ultimate compliment a postpartum woman could receive. After growing a human being for 9 months, our goal is supposed to be to “bounce back” after giving birth as soon as possible. Wait for clearance at your 6 week follow-up, and you should be able to go back to your favorite bootcamp class and lose the rest of that baby weight, right?
It’s not usually that easy. Our bodies go through massive changes with pregnancy and childbirth and don’t magically “bounce back.” Even if you are active throughout your pregnancy, your previous exercises and daily activities will likely feel different after you give birth. This can feel like a huge loss of identity, especially as you adapt to life with an infant and the new responsibilities that come with it. It’s a difficult adjustment, and it’s okay to grieve your previous life and your previous body. We can’t turn the clock back and have the same body we had before pregnancy, but we can learn new strategies to feel strong and confident in our new bodies.
Popular media often narrowly defines “getting your body back” as returning to your pre-pregnancy weight and body shape. I know we have all seen postpartum fitness influencers flaunting flat stomachs on social media or models strutting down the runway 4 weeks after childbirth, but remember that appearance doesn’t tell the whole story. Many women who don’t look like they had a baby still feel like they had a baby. Weight loss is only one aspect of postpartum recovery; there are many other common issues that are less visible but can have a profound impact on quality of life. This can include urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, diastasis recti, or lower back or pelvic pain. Or it could even just be feeling weak, fragile, and awkward with activities that used to feel like second nature.
What does “getting your body back” mean to you? Does it mean being able to laugh, cough, or sneeze without worrying about leakage? Does it mean being able to lift and carry your baby without pain? Or does it mean being able to push yourself in your workouts without wondering if your body can handle it? There are a lot of things that physical therapy can do to help postpartum women achieve these goals after childbirth and regain control over their bodies (it’s more than just kegels!). If you are having difficulty with your postpartum recovery, our pelvic health physical therapists would love to help!
You can learn more about this topic by visiting our Pregnancy & Postpartum page.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.