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Post-partum recovery is full of blurred lines. Generally, what you can do often comes down to how you’re feeling and how you’re specific recovery is going. This is why it’s hard to find a hard-and-fast rule regarding whether or not (and when) you should perform certain activities after giving birth.
Undeniably, you and your body need time to recover. After all, you just created and gave birth to a new human. It’s nothing short of incredible. So, let’s explore the post-partum phase, as well as when exactly you can lift your toddler after birth.
Giving Birth and Your Body
As you likely already know, pregnancy changes the body in many ways. Muscles and ligaments stretch to accommodate the fetus and aid in the birthing process. Your body begins to produce milk. The human body is definitely a fascinating force!
And birth isn’t exactly easy on the body. After hours of labor, there is a huge toll on your body leading up to birth and then, there’s the actual birth itself. As your body heals, inevitably, it’s going to need time and space to do so.
In fact, physically, it typically takes the body about six to eight weeks to recover after giving birth, with some research further indicating that it can actually take much longer. For many mothers, it isn’t until their child has grown and finished breastfeeding that their body begins to feel like their own once again.
For the sake of this article, we’re going to focus on the physical recovery after birth. So, let’s dive straight into the main question.
How Long Are You Not Supposed to Lift After Birth?
Most doctors suggest not lifting your toddler or anything heavy for at least the first week or two after birth.
Why is this the case? Overall, heavy lifting can create intra-abdominal pressure. After birth, the pelvic floor is weak (which is why strengthening it after pregnancy is so important!). This pressure and weakened pelvic floor can lead to the drop and protrusion of organs, which is a much more serious health situation.
In many other cases, your doctor might also recommend that you don’t lift anything heavier than your baby for the first six weeks. Ideally, before any heavy lifting, you may want to work on strengthening your pelvic floor (more on this in a bit!).
However, if you’re trying to avoid lifting an older sibling (such as a toddler), this can be difficult. Yet, there are a few things you can do including:
- Sitting down for cuddles with your child
- Encouraging more independent play
- Explaining simply why you can’t pick them up (such as “Mommy has a sore tummy.”)
- Getting new books for your toddler to enjoy
- Making other time for your toddler and you
- And don’t forget to make time for yourself too!
Safely Returning to Exercise and Other Activities Post-Partum
A few weeks after birth is the best time to start pelvic floor exercises, along with abdominal exercises. Through birth, these areas are weakened, which is why the general recommendation is to strengthen them during the post-partum phase.
At the same time, you want to make sure you don’t rush into exercise after birth. Back pain or urinary incontinence can worsen if you begin exercising too soon. Additionally, it’s always best to start with gentle movements, such as walking or yoga, especially since you’re at a greater risk of injury during this time due to pregnancy hormones that impact your joints and ligaments.
The rule of thumb always is that if you feel pain, it’s best to stop. Most mothers don’t return to their previous activities until about 16 weeks post-partum. However, discussing your recovery and options with your doctor at your 6-week follow-up can help you determine the best plan moving forward
How Physiotherapy Can Help
A physiotherapist can help you ease into pelvic floor and abdominal exercises after birth. Usually, these exercises simply involve bracing these muscles to regain basic strength.
At Corydon Physiotherapy in Winnipeg, our expert and caring team can help you get back to your regular activities post-pregnancy. Allow us to be your guides when it comes to pelvic floor and abdominal strengthening, helping you make a full recovery after giving birth. Book your appointment today by calling us at 204-900-8297.