Postpartum Recovery Beyond Six Weeks

April 15, 2024, sierraharlan

My partner and I will celebrate our daughter’s first birthday at the end of April. This has simultaneously been the quickest and longest eleven months of my life. It makes me sad when I think that my baby has now been out in the world longer than she was in my womb. I feel like I did not savor the early months enough, and now toddlerhood is just around the corner. This is the paradox we often face as mothers. We want to soak in every moment of those early baby days, but we are also trying to wade through exhaustion and heal from the intense changes that we went through during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. I was surprised by the lack of information about postpartum recovery beyond the initial six weeks. In this post, I will share about my postpartum journey in the hopes that it might connect with readers in the midst of their own healing journey.

The first six months

family, sport and motherhood concept - mother with little baby exercising at homeI was induced at 40 weeks due to preeclampsia and had a vaginal delivery with no complications. I did have two tears which required stitches and formed scar tissue when they healed. At my six-week OB check-up, I was told I had recovered as expected, and my doctor had no concerns. At this appointment, my OB also said that she recommends that everyone see a pelvic floor physical therapist after giving birth due to the strain that pregnancy and childbirth put our bodies through. If I could go back in time, I would get established with a pelvic floor physical therapist before giving birth to work on strengthening this muscle system as prevention. Our pelvic floor is so important! It “supports the bladder, uterus, and bowel” (Better Health). I learned the hard way that it is not uncommon for pelvic floor physical therapists in Benton County to be booked out for several months. I began seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist at five months postpartum. At this point, I was having scar tissue pain, hip and lower back pain, and some minor prolapse symptoms (mainly a feeling of “heaviness”)  if I did very much activity, such as walking, gardening, etc. The physical therapist recommended exercises to strengthen my pelvic floor, legs, and core, as well as recommended treatment for my scar tissue. The scar tissue continued to be quite painful, so I made an appointment with a midwife, who prescribed a topical hormone cream (she explained that breastfeeding could essentially put your body into a menopausal state) that greatly reduced symptoms and, over time, has alleviated the pain.

Six to ten months

Portrait of lovely and carrying mother with newborn baby in sling. Tired young mother with cute sleeping newborn in baby wrap. Attachment parenting concept.Honestly, I did not consistently do my physical therapy exercises. My baby went through phases of only napping if I let her sleep on me, and when I did have breaks from her, I would usually work on the essentials, like making food or cleaning the kitchen. All that to say, I was not the best patient because I did not prioritize my at-home exercises. I continued to have some prolapse symptoms if I was very active, as well as lower back discomfort.

I have incorporated some advice from my physical therapist into my daily life, such as drawing my pelvic floor up when I bend over to lift something, checking in to make sure I am not holding my breath and that I am breathing properly, and that I am not holding tension in my pelvic floor and abdominal muscles.


Eleven months

Woman Stretching in the Park Next to a Baby StrollerI am almost eleven months postpartum and feeling much more like myself. I’ve been working in the garden a lot over the past week, and while I still occasionally have some discomfort related to pelvic floor weakness, I can tell that my body has recovered a lot compared to when I tried to garden last summer. I notice a big difference when I focus on lifting my pelvic floor when I am bending and lifting compared to when I get busy and forget. As long as I keep up with using the topical cream prescribed by the midwife, I do not have discomfort from the scar tissue. Before becoming pregnant I worked out regularly. However, I have yet to get back into the gym, mostly because I am worried about putting stress on my pelvic floor, as I can tell that this is still something I need to focus on strengthening. The physical therapist that I saw encouraged me to walk and (ugh) seek out steep hills. I do feel like I’ve noticed my body feeling stronger through walking alone. I always take my baby with me on walks in her stroller, which makes this exercise much more realistic.



Mother in living room playing with baby smilingI hesitated writing about my postpartum recovery because it is such an intimate topic (it’s one thing to share with a friend versus writing about it on a public blog). Still, there were many times when I was up with my daughter in the middle of the night, and I’d look for stories similar to mine. It was easy to find information about what to expect immediately postpartum, but I did not see much about recovery after the first few months. I felt like my body was permanently damaged and worried that I would always have discomfort. I can happily say that at eleven months, I feel much brighter about the future, and my symptoms are much better. I still have some pelvic floor discomfort after doing a lot of lifting. However, I can tell that it is continuing to improve. I wish you healing if you are on your own postpartum recovery journey.