Long before having a child of my own, I watched women go through pregnancy with a mixture of curiosity, awe and dread. The swollen feet, achy back and strange cravings seemed to permeate the experience.
When I did become pregnant, I feared that my body might betray me. Yet somehow I seemed to breeze through each stage of pregnancy like a golden child. Sure there was some morning sickness, but nothing some crackers and the front seat of the car couldn’t cure. The swelling of the feet didn’t kick in until the last few weeks. The mild low back pain was just an excuse to indulge in a prenatal massage.
My daughter came on her due date. While it wasn’t quite the quick and easy delivery I was hoping for, I managed the 13 hours without intervention. “You did it!” said my doula, signaling the tidy end of my pregnancy chapter.
I immediately reveled in my new body. I could move in ways I hadn’t enjoyed in months. I could even bend over!
My doctor released me from care after the standard few days of hospitalisation. During his last visit, I mentioned that I was starting to feel a little achy in my pelvic area and low back. He waived off my concerns and suggested I could see a physiotherapist.
I went home with my newborn and the pain persisted. The next day my daughter was five days old. I needed to bring her back to the hospital for a jaundice test, but walking moderate distances was painful. As the day went on, the pain worsened. Each day for the next week I found myself stuck on the couch. Each night I had to crawl up the stairs to my bed clutching the stair rail the whole way.
Each day for the next week I found myself stuck on the couch. Each night I had to crawl up the stairs to my bed clutching the stair rail the whole way.
I decided it was time to see that physiotherapist.
“My doctor says its pelvic instability,” I told the bright and cheery physiotherapist. She confirmed my diagnosis and we began working on a plan to make me whole again. She explained that childbirth and hormones had loosened the ligaments in my pelvic area. It would take a combination of time and exercises to get me pain free. The hormones would linger longer in my body because I was breastfeeding. It took about six weeks for my body to return to “normal”.
I was blindsided. During pregnancy, the focus was on me. Everyone wanted to know how I was doing. Now, people only asked about the baby. Meanwhile, I was in real physical pain. This was my maternity leave and I couldn’t even bend down to bathe my own baby or scuttle to her crib. I kept my daughter next to me morning and night in case I needed to reach for her.
I was blindsided. During pregnancy, the focus was on me. Everyone wanted to know how I was doing. Now, people only asked about the baby.
With time and physiotherapy my body healed as promised.
Post-partum is often harder than pregnancy and it’s not discussed enough. The body is healing while women are experiencing new tasks and demands. It’s important that new moms understand the physical aspect of pregnancy doesn’t end at birth. For those that are struggling, please reach out to other moms and medical professionals that can provide support. I’m glad that I did.
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