Guest blogger Felicity Cook from Family Chiropractic Centre Charlestown explains the factors affecting postpartum recovery
How long does it really take to recover after having a baby?
This is a question that many mums find themselves asking, long after their 6 week check up. Some mums are lucky enough to feel fit and fabulous pretty soon after the birth of their child but many other mums just don’t. And if you’re one of the mums that are feeling tired, foggy headed and uncomfortable in your body many weeks, months or perhaps even years after having babies then you are not alone.
The truth is, it can take longer (in many cases much longer) than many women think for their body to recover post pregnancy. And often, the body is changed by pregnancy so what was once normal is now a different type of normal. This can be challenging for many women, particularly at a time when all you really want to focus on is getting as much sleep as possible while feeding and nurturing the new little person in your life.
There are a number of reasons why postpartum recovery takes more time than is often talked about. Everything from how you carried your baby, to how you delivered, how many pregnancies you’ve had, the time you’ve had between pregnancies, fitness levels and genetics are just some of the factors can have a an influence on how your body recovers from pregnancy and birth.
Research has concluded that it takes at least a year for most women to recover from the demands of pregnancy and birth. Physically this can be longer if there are complicating factors like abdominal separation, pelvic floor concerns or prolapse. And this is just on the physical considerations. There are many social and emotional changes that come about as a result of pregnancy and parenting some of which can take months to present themselves.
Such is the case with post natal depression which can present anytime in the 12 months following the birth of a child and this can involve many months or even years of support and treatment after it has been diagnosed. In addition to all of this on the physiological or nutritional level it has been suggested that it can take years for a mum’s body and brain to fully recover from growing a baby, delivering and supporting their child with feeding and lack of sleep.
So you can see that it takes much longer than we often talk about when it comes to recovering from pregnancy and childbirth. For some you reading this it might be a relief to know that there is a reason why you’ve still got baby brain and you’re not back to the same level of activity you were prior to pregnancy. For some of you reading this it may be a little scary especially if you are pregnant or soon hope to be. The good news is that there are steps you can take to help your body and help the recovery process along.
The first is taking the approach that YOUR body needs. It is easy to get swept up in wanting your body back and heavily working on one component like fitting into your pre-pregnancy clothes because there is a lot of programs and information supporting that. It is possible to over do this to the point of fatigue and even injury that can take back a couple of steps in the recovery process.
Make yourself a priority. Throughout the whole mothering journey it can be very easy to put yourself last and this can be especially so in the early days. Practicing some healthy habits e.g. handing the baby over for some time to get extra sleep or eating a nutritionally filling meal is a must for your health and theirs.
Finally seek help. That’s what health professionals like myself are there for! It can be to address concerns about how your body is recovering post birth but if the opportunity is available it can be beneficial to get some advice prior to pregnancy to help you and them to get the best start and give your body the best chance at recovery before you’ve even begun!
Felicity is a Chiropractor based in Charlestown who is passionate about helping kids to grow and develop optimally through moving well, thinking well, eating well and having an optimally functioning nervous system. For more information, visit Family Chiropractic Centre Charlestown.