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Fear of “Making Things Worse”

“I’m afraid of making things worse…”

I hear this all the time from the mamas I work with. They often meet me after having been told to “take it easy” those first few weeks after delivery, to then being given the “all clear” at their six week postpartum visit. This is like going from zero to sixty miles per hour without any information on how to scale safely. This one liner of guidance makes “easing back into things” very UNeasy, especially when trying to decide if you’re ready to run…heck, I’d be afraid too!

It’s totally reasonable to feel afraid of “making things worse” [insert prolapse, incontinence, diastasis recti, etc…] when you don’t have access to good information. I don’t know about you, but guessing blindly, and especially while playing the wait-and-see game is my least favorite activity. That’s basically what I feel like our medical system is asking mothers to do about their postpartum recovery plan and return to exercise. “Just ease back into things and see how it goes…”. That’s not helpful for you, Mama.

I also find it incredibly unkind to expect women to have to figure out their return-to-run plan on their own when many physicians don’t know how to do this themselves. I’m not pointing fingers of blame, but what I am saying is physicians are not trained to know how to assess movement or return-to-sport readiness because that’s a physical therapist’s job. So then why are OBGYNs the ones left in charge to make this call? I wish I had a better answer for you, other than, that’s how it’s always been…THAT is what’s making things worse → the way our medical system is set up to “clear” women for exercise, but the medical provider making that decision is also guessing. Again, that’s not helpful. 

I share all of this to say, Mama, I hear you. I see you. Your feelings are valid. Here are a few suggestions I’d like to share to help reduce the fear around “making things worse…”

  1. You deserve help from the beginning, and shouldn’t have to wait until something doesn’t feel right to get support ← read that one more time. Connect with a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist (PFPT) around 6-8 weeks postpartum to help optimize your healing and support a safe return back into exercise without the guesswork. Consulting with Dr. Google and Dr. Instagram only creates more fear and anxiety while you try and sift through what’s appropriate for your care, and only prolongs the process of you getting the support you need. You’d be amazed at what one to three PFPT visits alone can do to help ease your anxiety and help you create an actionable plan to reach your fitness and running goals long term. You’re worth it, Mama! 
  2. Remember that it took nine months to make your little one. Expecting your body to be back to exercising at your pre-pregnancy capacity before nine months postpartum is A LOT (and saying it’s ready at 6week is ridiculous!), especially when your body has been working overtime since your sweet baby arrived. Gradual progressions and extending grace to yourself through this newborn phase are important. This is also where your PFPT can help you better understand what to expect and how to work back up to your desired level of fitness with a successful plan long term. 
  3. Comparison is the thief of joy. Everyone’s pregnancy, delivery, and the postpartum journey is as unique as their healing and recovery windows. There are some general timelines that tend to be more common, BUT they are not hard and fast rules. If you need more time than the average, that’s perfectly ok, and if you’re unsure, don’t be afraid to ask a qualified professional for support. 

Mama, you’re doing great no matter where you are in your postpartum journey. If you’re feeling lost, afraid, confused, or unsure about your recovery and/or how to return to running safely after baby, you don’t have to figure it out on your own. Pieton Physical Therapy is here to help and would be honored to support.