Thursday, 5 October 2017

Pelvic Health Series: Our journey to regaining strength, alignment, and function Kellie - part 1

photo by Roughley Originals

Every single one of us is different. One of the most amazing aspects of my job is to witness the vast differences between each pregnant body as they exercise and how their body transforms postpartum. Most women will have similarities between their own pregnancies and births. Many women can even find a few similarities with other women as they discuss their stories. I think you would be hard pressed to find two stories more similar than mine and Jamie’s are, which is truly incredible, as we have only known each other for 18 months. That being said, they are not identical stories and for that reason I will also be sharing my story of regaining strength, alignment, and function through the help, expertise, and guidance of a pelvic health physical therapist.

photo by Roughley Originals
After one miscarriage, my husband and I went on to have two healthy pregnancies. Our oldest daughter Brooke was born by urgent cesarean section in April 2014. Our youngest daughter Mikah was born by elective repeat cesarean section in October 2016. You can read her birth story here. I stayed active through both pregnancies, which included running (stopped at 25 and 32 weeks, respectively), strength training, and yoga amongst other leisure activities and hobbies (biking, hiking, etc.). I officially started Fit Your Life by offering prenatal and postpartum fitness seminars in February 2015. Since that time, I have continued to learn, through various means, about pregnancy health and postpartum fitness. I absolutely fell in love with putting this newly discovered knowledge into practice within my own body during Mikah’s pregnancy. After her birth and through my healing, I began finding my new daily routine. Even before I was cleared for exercise postpartum, as a new family of four, we would go downstairs first thing in the morning and pull out our mats. This was an awesome ritual Brooke, Keith, and I had developed and wanted to continue. While Keith and Brooke worked out, Mikah would lie on my exercise mat and I would stretch, move gently, and connect with my changing body through breath. As I was able, I slowly re-introduced more movement in these morning sessions and loved the way I was feeling! I felt strong and connected! I thanked my prenatal exercise routine, my balanced nutrition intake, and my supportive family for this.

Although feeling great and sinking into the new routine, there was one nagging thing that continued to bother me even months after Mikah’s birth. My incision scar tissue did not seem to be going away. The slimmer I became, the more noticeable I thought the “bump” above my external scar was. Through self-massage, chiropractic, and deep massage, I noticed some change, but I started to wonder if this was part of my new normal.

What does this have to do with making an appointment with Jillian Palmer (MScPT) at Bounce Back PhysicalTherapy? Well… this scar tissue was the only postpartum “issue” that I would fully admit existed. I was actually in complete denial that I had a 2+ finger abdominal separation (diastasis recti or DR) at my belly button. Yes, I am trained in assessing this and did feel it within my own body. Since I was virtually symptom free and am very well trained in what not to do with DR, I was cautious, but did not even think about having it assessed. I worked on this in my own way through core connection, mindful core movements, and pelvic floor engagement and relaxation. [It is perfectly normal if you are having flashbacks to Jamie’s blog post. Haven’t read it yet? Find it here! I told you we are similar!] Over the summer, Erin, Jamie, and I wanted to open up the conversation about pelvic floor and core symptoms postpartum. Through this process, more women were asking us to assess them for DR and were discussing what was going on in their body before, during, and after our classes. We loved that women were realizing that Fit Your Life is a safe space for them to talk about their discomforts, pain, leaking, and to ask what is “normal recovery” and what might need require further investigation by a pelvic health specialist.

As the number of these conversations grew, I started thinking about my own body and how I really should make an assessment appointment to see what it is really like. What held me back? To be frank, I was most nervous about the internal exam. Why? I was scared she would find something “wrong”. BUT I was finally able to take a deep breath and book an appointment. I was recommending so many clients to go and knew I could probably learn a thing or two. Well, that is an understatement!

Am I happy I booked? HECK YES!
Did Jill find something “wrong” with my body? NO! But we did discover areas in which I can “let go” in order to be my most functional!

Excited to hear more? In my next post, I will take you through my first assessment and my “magic moment” as I have been calling it ever since!

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