Look at you! You have a baby—in a pandemic! Now what? You're adjusting to motherhood and you need to heal physically.

You've likely heard about the importance of self-care in the fourth trimester. You've been told to rally your support system to help out as much as possible. You may have even learned that seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist during the fourth trimester can help you heal and strengthen your body after childbirth.

But in the middle of a pandemic, this can be a lot harder. Fortunately, motherhood is all about adaptation. The good news is that there are things to do from home to assist you in your physical rehabilitation from birth.


Here are my top tips for recovering your pelvic floor after birth during the COVID-19 pandemic:

1. Breathe

The exhaustion that comes with a newborn can be easily overwhelming, even in the best of times. When you feel anxiety creeping in, take some deep belly breaths. Your pelvic floor will thank you for this.

In fact, a specific style of breathwork called diaphragmatic breathing may help you to recover from birth faster. Learn how to do diaphragmatic breathing here.

2. See a pelvic floor physical therapist virtually

Although widely known for their hands-on skills, there is so much more a pelvic floor physical therapist can offer you, much of which can be easily done virtually. A pelvic floor physical therapist can perform a screening to determine if an in-person session is needed. With virtual pelvic health appointments, a session with a pelvic floor physical therapist can include the following:

  • Posture, movement and breathing pattern assessment. All of these change during pregnancy as the baby grows. Addressing each of these will not only facilitate rehabilitation, but can also help ward off injury.
  • Demonstration of proper bending and baby lifting techniques while healing from the physical toll of childbirth. Many people have heard of "lifting from the legs" to avoid a back strain. A physical therapist will provide extra input on how to lift the baby and car seat without sustaining an injury.
  • Demonstration of the appropriate corrective exercises for diastasis recti. A physical therapist will prescribe the right core restorative exercises for you. The best way to begin engaging your core? Diaphragmatic breathing!
  • Guidance in resuming intimacy with your partner. Not every woman feels ready at the 6-week mark to resume intercourse, and that is okay. A pelvic floor physical therapist can help you feel prepared to engage in sex again or provide care for you if sex becomes painful.
  • Treatment of bladder leakage or constipation. By guiding you in pelvic floor strengthening (hint: it's more than just kegels) or pelvic floor relaxation, a pelvic floor physical therapist can help you deal with postpartum bathroom troubles. While you wait for your visit, be sure to use a footstool, like a Squatty Potty, and practice belly breathing to facilitate easier bowel movements and urination.
  • Guide you in safely resuming exercise while minimizing the risk of injury or worsening pelvic organ prolapse. Pelvic organ prolapse is a condition where the bladder, rectum, uterus or other organs protrude into the vaginal space. If you were doing an intense workout regimen prior to pregnancy, it's best to ease yourself back in. While you're waiting, start with a slow walk.

3. Eat

Seriously. Make sure you're eating and hydrating enough. You'd be surprised to see how quickly a day can go by without realizing you haven't nourished yourself. Choose healthy fats, fruits, veggies and protein. This will not only assist your body in healing but will give you the energy to take care of your newborn.

If you are breastfeeding, speak to your physician or nutritionist about the best nutrients for you during this time.

4. Use the bathroom

It can be tempting to avoid going to the bathroom, especially in the middle of the night when you are trying to keep your sleeping baby sleeping. So many new moms experience this. But withholding urine and stool will add to pelvic floor dysfunction. Withholding will cause the pelvic floor muscles to tense, even when they should be relaxing. This can lead to constipation, as well as urinary symptoms such as leakage, difficulty initiating urine stream, or feelings of urinary urge.

Give your baby a quick look to make sure all is safe and well, and proceed to the bathroom.

5. Be gentle with yourself

Know that it's okay to feel how you feel. Reach out to other moms virtually to connect and check-in with each other. Seek professional help if needed. Call your physician or midwife if you experience unusual or excessive bleeding or pain (filling a pad with blood in an hour or two, or seeing multiple blood clots, or one blood clot the size of a golf ball or larger.)

You are important. You deserve to feel well and strong. Your recovery from pregnancy and childbirth is important so you can be at your best for your own sake as well as for your family. You spent nine months growing a human. Rehabilitation is essential. Breathe, nourish yourself, and see a pelvic floor physical therapist virtually.

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.


The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.

As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

As mamas we want our babies to be safe, and that's what makes what happened to Glee actress Naya Rivera and her 4-year-old son Josey so heartbreaking.

On July 13, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department announced the 33-year-old mother's body was found at Lake Piru, five days after her son was found floating alone on a rented boat. According to Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub, Rivera's last action was to save her son.

"We know from speaking with her son that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point in her journey. It was at that time that her son described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him onto the deck from behind. He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water," Ayub explained, adding that Rivera's son was wearing his life vest, but the adult life vest was left on the unanchored boat.


Ayub says exactly what caused the drowning is still speculation but investigators believe the boat started drifting and that Rivera "mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat but not enough to save herself."

Our hearts are breaking for Josey and his dad right now. So much is unknown about what happened on Lake Piru but one thing is crystal clear: Naya Rivera has always loved her son with all her heart.

Keep reading Show less