Postnatal Recovery: What a Difference a Year Makes!

We all know that it takes 9 months to fully grow a human baby. I’ve heard that you should expect to heal for 9 months after having the baby as pregnancy hormones linger in the body. Nobody told me that it takes even longer to heal and get rid of pregnancy hormones if you’ve had a C-section or are nursing.

Last Year

This time last year, I was still nursing my 14-month-old and wondering why my body was still such a mess after the C-section. During my pregnancy, I had pubis symphysis dysfunction. This caused pain similar to sciatica but with added sensations.

For example, when walking, I didn’t just get zings down the backs of my legs or intermittent dead legs. Although I did have these, I experienced an intensely painful feeling from the center of my crotch that reminded me of Medieval impaling. It felt like I was being shoved crotch first on a pointed stick.

When sitting, it wasn’t odd for my muscles to spasm, pulling my sacrum (tailbone) out of place. My lower body would lock down and freeze. I would have to sit still and breathe until the muscles would unlock and allow me to move.

Try not to be jealous.

So here I was, nursing a toddler and dealing with my pubis symphysis dysfunction when we decided to go on vacation. My husband planned a trip to Zion National Park, which is an 18 hour trip from our house.

We knew there would be lots of sitting in the car and walking, but I thought that as long as I paced myself and took breaks, I’d be okay. Most of the time, this was true.

I had tennis balls in our truck to massage my back, and blankets and sweaters to use as props. With two small kids, we stopped regularly for everyone to stretch, go to the bathroom, and get snacks.

When we hiked in Zion, we took breaks along the trails, and we didn’t hike more than one trail in a day. Each day, after our hike, I’d come back to our camper and rest in a horizontal position. Sometimes I read, and sometimes I napped with the toddler.

My body always needed the break. Sometimes, my back (or, on a bad day, crotch) would give a huge pop when I would lie down. If I would actively relax and breathe, tight muscles would relax and I would feel better.

We had a lovely vacation at Zion and decided to move on and see some of the other National Parks in the area. When we went through Bryce Canyon, we only picked the short and easy trails, so we got to hike a couple of trails that day. It wasn’t until Arches National Park that my body was really challenged.

Arches National Park:  My Hell

Vacation had been so lovely that my husband and I became rather carefree. In a way, we were very much on vacation and, at this particular point, we were really not paying attention. We, unfortunately, embarked on a 3-mile hike at noon with 2 hats, 2 water bottles, and 2 kids.

It was an honest accident. We believed that the trail we took was a .3-mile walk to an overlook of the Arch, but we accidentally took the 3-mile extremely difficult trail. As we trudged on, my pain and our frustrations grew.

We didn’t turn around because we were sure that we would complete our .3 miles at any time. Once we realized that we had gone longer than .3 miles, we figured we were at least half way there. In fact, we were not half way there.

We hiked up steep, flat, slick rocks. Our shade and rest spots were crevices in rocks. Even then, you had to climb up the rock to get to the shady nook. My crotch and the rest of my body were adamant that I had made a mistake.

Right before I suggested that we turn around, a guy passed me and said, “You got this!” I found that to be very motivational, even when I realized that it was printed on my shirt. That day, I was wearing my Kansas City Royals 2015 World Series shirt. It says, “Relax. We got this.”

Well, damn. I kept on going.

The hike was so difficult and intense that I don’t even remember many specifics of it. I do remember that, to get to (or away from) the Arch, we had to hug a cliff and move in a single file line. Like construction traffic, you would wait for the end of the approaching line before you began moving.

Then, after hugging the cliff and side stepping your way down a narrow path, you came to a view of the Arch and a steep drop-off. Perfect. We took several pictures before heading back.

Here’s one of me. Look how happy I am. Yeah, pure joy right there.

Sarah at Arches National Park

Thank goodness, it was much easier going back than it was getting there because we were pretty much out of water.

This Year

Guess what we decided to do for vacation this year! Head out west and skip Arches National Park.

This year, we went to Lake Powell and the north rim of the Grand Canyon. While at the Grand Canyon, we hiked every trail we could take the kids on and, at the end of the day, I felt great!

I’m so happy to report that my body is starting to feel like normal. I no longer have pubis symphysis dysfunction issues. My muscle strength and joint stability are returning.

And I’m only 27 months postnatal!

What are you doing to help your postnatal self heal? Let us know in the comments below.

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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