So it only took medical experts, oh, say a couple of hundred years, but they are finally admitting what we've known FOR EVER: Birthing a baby is every bit as grueling as running a marathon, playing pro football, or any other sport you want to name.
After giving a group of new moms MRIs, researchers at the University of Michigan--which included a team of midwives and OBs--found that up to 15 percent of them suffered pelvic injuries during childbirth.
"If an athlete sustained a similar injury in the field, she'd be in an MRI machine in an instant," says Janis Miller, associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing. "We have this thing where we tell women, 'Well, you're six weeks postpartum and now we don't need to see you--you'll be fine.' But not all women feel fine after six weeks nor are ready to go back to work, and they aren't crazy."
It can take up to eight months to heal, and the Kegel exercises doctors usually recommend sometimes don't help. That's because many of the injuries involved muscle tears, fractures, and severe strain (ouch!).
Bottom line: It's time to stop the one-size-fits-all recovery Rx. "If a woman is sensing that she has delayed recovery or unusual symptoms of discomfort or feels she just can't Kegel anymore, she should see a specialist," notes Miller.