The 6-Week Clearance: What Now?
You’re ready to go and your doctor has cleared you at the 6-week check-up. Now you’re left wondering, “what now?”
You go onto some mom groups on Facebook and start asking about fitness programs in your area. You’re overwhelmed with responses. You’re looking at the ones that are suggested the most within that FB group and you sign yourself up. You’re excited to get back into shape after spending the last 9 months, pregnant.
Let’s rewind just a little and talk about the 6-week clearance for a sec. There is a common misconception that the 6 week clearance gives us permission to sign up for the most intensive bootcamp you can find and that couldn’t be further from the truth.
During this check-up following the birth of your baby, your health care provider is looking at whether or not your body has returned to it’s “pre-pregnancy state”.
I put that in quotations because your body will never go back to it’s pre-pregnancy state. Your hormonal profile has changed and you, as a women will be wired differently--which is not a bad thing because studies show that our brains actually get bigger!! The things that your health care provider is looking for is your blood pressure, resting heart rate, uterus and cervix, post-pregnancy bleeding, emotional state and weight (in some cases). They aren’t assessing your core and pelvic floor which take on a great deal of impact during pregnancy, labour and delivery. If your birth is medially intervened with forceps, vacuum, or episiotomy, the healing process will take a bit longer.
Now, if you had a c-section, doesn’t mean that your pelvic floor is unaffected.
Your core and pelvic floor still made adaptations and went through hormonal changes that affect your pelvic floor. In fact, research shows that women who have had a c-section are at a greater risk of diastasis recti (abdominal separation). Plus, having a c-section is pretty significant and it makes me INSANE that these women are getting a them clearance and an uncomplicated vaginal birth. If you tear your ACL ( a little thingy in your knee), and have it repaired, that’s an automatic year of rehab. How the heck does that make sense? To read more about c-section recovery, click here.
When getting back into your fitness program, you need to start slow and gradually rebuild, retrain and restore your body back to optimal function
Bootcamps and other high impact classes should be off the table temporarily. This means programs that require heavy lifting (even some isometric bodyweight movements like planks), running, sprinting, jumping or sport that required you to change directions suddenly like soccer or tennis. Your pelvic floor and core may still not be strong enough and the impact of these activities place a lot of pressure on this system. IF the system isn’t well functioning, you’re putting yourself at risk of Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) and other pelvic floor dysfunctions.
Your joint and ligaments-including your pelvic floor and core are not only still a bit weak, but they will have the hormone, relaxin within them for up to 6-months (possibly longer if you’re nursing). I’ve never seen this talked about with fitness instructors or healthcare providers but it extremely important to understand.
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So, when thinking about fitness post pregnancy, the 6-week doesn’t mean that you can take on the #noexcuses or #beastmode approach right away but you can get there in a much safer way by taking the appropriate steps that will allow your body to recover.
Remember this, if you pee during your workouts or feel a heaviness in your vagina during your workouts, this is an indication of a pelvic floor dysfunction and it isn’t normal. It’s best to discontinue what you’re doing and get assessed by a pelvic floor physiotherapist.
Love your baby body,