There is so much HOPE!
Part of her initial email:
I’m 3 months PP from a c-section that took place after 55 hours of labor with 10 hours pushing (it was hell). I have been going back to the gym (spin, Pilates, yoga, and lifting) but I’m afraid that I’m making or could be making my diastasis recti worse. I feel good when working out just have a terribly weak abdomen and experience a little bit of back pain. I want to strengthen my abs but I keep reading how crunches and such aren’t good for diastasis recti. I need direction in rebuilding my core.
(later she told me they had to push the head back up before they performed the C section)
Part of my response:
Have you seen a pelvic floor physical therapist? It is a very important step to all of this! Luckily, I finally found an amazing one! We can start working together before you see her, but I just want to make sure you make that part of your routine as soon as possible! How does that sound? Nancy will be able to get your healing to the next level. Since you labored and had a C- she can check our your pelvic floor and do some scar tissue work, check your DR, and we can then work together to make your return to fitness amazing:)
What happened during her consult!
When she showed up she was wearing a super tight corset. She told me she wears this every second of the day even though it was giving her marks and bruises. When she took it off she would have back pain.
Told me she used to be fit even though it doesn’t look like it now.
She wants to lose weight. She is nursing but it isn’t doing anything.
Everything she read said that crunches were bad, so she was terrified and lost on how to regain core strength. She did do one pilates workout and was sore for a week and was really scared that she did some damage.
She tried to test herself for DR but didn’t think she was doing it right. Later, I realized she probably didn’t think she was doing it right because she didn’t have DR but she had convinced herself that she did.
The story we tell ourselves is huge. But these stories unfortunately come from the horrible social media messaging and lack of guidance from doctors.
You know what my first OB told me after Chase? At 8 weeks it would be really hard to damage myself so I should just ease back into my fitness routine. No guidance. And, my client didn’t get any either. Actually, she got kicked out of the hospital ONE day after her C section because she had already been there a week before with laboring as part of her traumatic birth story.
There is more awareness out there now so that is good BUT some of it has turned into fear mongering shit that makes poor women like my client paralyzed on what to do. She becomes pressured into wearing a corset that she doesn’t need and is actually probably hindering her healing process. She was terrified of DR.
You know what? She didn’t even have DR!!! Or at least I don’t think she did. My PFPT will confirm when she sees her next.
She cried to me about how terrible she felt about her body. I told her since my own journey that I have begun to look at postpartum so much differently. After my first son, 3 months postpartum felt like forever but after my second, it felt like nothing. I made her promise me to give herself way more grace in her journey.
I explained how each body responds differently to losing/gaining weight while breastfeeding. I honestly didn’t really feel like myself until 5 whole months after I weaned. The 1.5 year mark was always a huge one for me with both pregnancies.
The problem is the messaging out there makes it into a race. How fast can women get their body back?
Once I started assessing her movements, I realized what great control she had over her body. And, as I started teaching her strategies, I realized just how fast she could catch on to my cues. She was a complete badass! A rockstar! but she still felt anything as such :(
Here is the latest update after she saw my PFPT!
Feeling so much better and stronger. You were so right about Nancy she is amazing!!! She taught some moves to help turn on my abs before doing the exercises you showed me. It’s working so well... I can really feel my core. Also the tip you gave on using my glutes has helped a lot when doing basic tasks. Still have some back pain, but building my core and focusing on it will help that.
Thank you so much for getting me started and giving me confidence to keep going!
Part of her initial email. I sent her some questions to answer before our first session.
This was the story surrounding her second baby:
...It was time to push, as I pushed the baby’s heart rate kept drastically dropping from 150bpm to 50bpm. The cord was wrapped around her neck about 4 times, I had to get her out! Within 4 pushes/contractions I got her out but I ended up with a 3rd almost 4th degree tear due to not being able to progress naturally and pushing so hard. She ended up being as healthy as a horse but my lady bits suffered dearly. 2)I am currently 4 months postpartum and still feeling the aftermath of this birth. 3) Both my doctor and PT has told me that I have a grade 1 cystocele, the only way it has been determined is by internal examination. I also have 1.5 finger diastasis. 4) I have not resumed exercise at the gym at this point except for a little bit of body weight exercise, kegals and some stretches at home. I currently am experiencing the feeling of urgency to urinate pretty much all day. Even when I go I do not get any relief. I also am experiencing a slight bowel incontinence. If I have to go, I have to get to the bathroom quickly. 5) I am missing the crossfit world so bad! It was my life before dealing with my current situation. It gave me the feeling of fulfillment and accomplishment especially after being diagnosed with Lyme Disease in 2015. I really want to be able to do the normal CrossFit lifts again: deadlift, snatch and clean. I also would like to be able to run again, do box jumps, jump rope and do burpees. But if something is not conducive to me healing I totally get that also! I’m trying to be realistic but still hopeful to accomplish most of these! 6) I’m looking forward to learning the correct breathing technique for high intensity movements and lifts. I also am excited to being coached by someone knowledgeable in Crossfit and my current situation. Hoping to gain knowledge to also help me heal and in my own coaching journey for women at my gym as well! 7) I’ve been trying to be pretty positive and proactive with this whole cystocele situation but I’m not gonna lie, it has me pretty down. I have pain in my vagina pretty much all day every day. And it’s hard hearing that it’s not that bad (grade wise) considering the painful sensation I feel daily. I’m hoping trying to get stronger will help me heal and if not then give me the ability to do something that I love doing! Can’t wait to see you tomorrow!
What happened during her consult!
She is seeing a PFPT that is very good! The only thing missing is that this particular PFPT doesn’t understand all of the demands of CrossFit, so that is where I can connect some dots.
I love, love, love my job! I got this client doing air squats, squats with the 15 pound barbell, doing med ball cleans, kettlebell swings, banded pull-ups, and ring rows with no symptoms. We worked on positioning and pressure control, and damn it was so fun! She is taking her L1 CrossFit seminar in a few weeks and while there is no reason that she needs to do any exercises that may hinder her healing process, I wanted to prepare her as much as possible so she can participate in most activities!
A very common thing that P&PA coaches see with new mothers is the constant tension they are holding in their bodies and pelvic floors along with the gripping of the abdominals when they “suck in” to look a certain way. So I helped her learn how to relax, and we worked on breathing strategies that felt good. I gave her some stuff to practice for homework as she moves around her daily life.
Another common thing we often see is clients over thinking once they learn a new strategy. It makes sense. Clients are overwhelmed and just want to feel in control again; so it is natural to want to overcorrect or “overcook the system” as Antony Lo calls it. We worked on moving with new strategies but also without overthinking. This is difficult to do on your own; I know I needed a ton of help along the way!
The reason I copied/ pasted and wrote all of this out into a blog is because I want women to see what is possible. Postpartum turns into this black hole, and I don’t want it to be that way for anyone anymore. Just meeting with both of these women for one hour completely changed the trajectory of their journey. This is why I always push people to spend the money and/or make the drive to meet with a PFPT that understands your goals...or even a P&PA coach! Even an online Skyping consultation is an option as a last resort!
Reading all of the contradicting information online will most likely leave you at a dead end, feeling helpless and unsure.Getting solid information and a plan individualized to your unique situation is priceless- you won’t feel alone any longer!
Sometimes you don’t even realize how lonely it is until you experience the other side.