Throughout my life I’ve had better than average flexibility so the first signs of joint stiffness during my pregnancy were odd for me. At 14 months postpartum, I was starting to think that my back, knees and occasionally fingers will forever be achy. Even though I prepared myself and knew to expect a little joint discomfort during this time, I didn’t expect my (minor) tribulations to last more than a year after having our baby!
It wasn’t that I was dealing with a lot of pain all the time, it was mild and more of an annoyance when I crouched on the ground to pick up toys or held my baby for too long.
Just weeks ago I was thinking this post would be centered on some kind of joint solution remedy. Turns out my body was just on the very slow end to recover. This might be why the baby center UK suggests giving at least 18 months for your body to heal postpartum. Here in the US it’s generally expected to take about 12 months for your body to fully recover.
I’d say that on the grand scale my body was quick to bounce back, not just weight-wise but also I generally felt really good. At the same time I knew and felt that my body is still healing. To this day, I know my ribcage area is not back to the way it was before my pregnancy. About a month after delivery I almost felt “back to normal”. Almost. Could I have run marathons? No. But, mentally I felt I was able to. Physically I probably could have gone a significant distance before something would have stopped me, but I make sure to have an ear to listen to what my body is telling me. I wanted to get back to running but every time I thought about it, deep down it didn’t seem to be time yet.
Looking back over the past year and a half I probably could have exercised a bit more, done some light strengthening exercises and such but between taking care of the baby and having time for anything else none of that happened.
After labor I kept taking my prenatal vitamins while breastfeeding and maintained a healthy diet so I didn’t think my achy joints were a problem related to lack of nourishment. I did some googling, of course, and didn’t find any good solutions that seemed to fit. I would walk regularly, I would stretch as well but my entire body still felt rigid.
I didn’t run again until I was 13 months postpartum. That first time, boy did I feel out of shape! I took it easy and obviously didn’t push myself or make harsh judgments about my run. It was what it was: a start. I had never felt so stiff or out of shape in my life.
I haven’t run since that time, mostly because we went on vacation, but I will find a way to fit it back into my schedule. Without doing any additional exercise out of my daily routines I recently, somehow out of the blue, felt completely healed. I was so very happy to realize that my slight discomfort I experienced for months suddenly went away! My back and arms no longer ached to pick up or hold my 21lb baby for an extended amount of time. My knees and ankles no longer felt tight or tin-man-like when I bent them. Once in a while my fingers would feel arthritic, but they haven’t in a while. It feels great to finally feel (mostly) fully healed! All that’s left, that I can feel, are my stomach and rib area. When I bend or sometimes overly extend my ribcage it feels like something is going to pop out, even though everything looks good from a dr’s perspective.
All in all, it took my joints about 14 months to regain their usual strength and flexibility. Try finding articles or anyone who reports experiencing something similar after pregnancy in a google search….chances are you won’t because I tried. If you do, I’d love to hear other people’s experiences. I can’t be the only one! So if your joints don’t rejuvenate with lots of rest and light exercise within the recommended 12 months postpartum, you’re not alone.