During pregnancy a women’s body goes through many physiological and hormonal changes, these changes continue after labour meaning that it can take anything up to a year, and sometimes longer to fully recover from the effects of pregnancy.
t’s very important to take care of your body during the post natal period and get the rest you need - and deserve. Everyone is individual and it can vary in how long it will take to recover, however, by improving your fitness and following the right advice you can help to avoid any future problems.
Depending upon where you decide to give birth or which hospital you deliver at, there is often a physiotherapist who will come and give you any advice that you need and exercises to get you on the right road to recovery. Here are the basic things to remember and exercises to do, following a normal delivery.
The first thing to remember is that your body will need rest following labour, so it is important that for the first few weeks you only do very light duties. Ask your husband, partner, family and friends to help out with the chores. Pregnancy can cause weakness around the abdominal muscles, pelvic floor muscles and laxity in joints that may lead to the risk of incontinence, risk of hernias or many other problems if put under strain. So take it easy. You have enough on your plate looking after a new infant, so let someone else look after you.
As the body is put through a lot of strain during pregnancy and childbirth, it is only natural that as a result some of the muscles may become weaker. One of these is the pelvic floor muscle that is a big sling muscle running from the vagina to the back passage. When weak this can lead to incontinence and even the risk of prolapse, so it is really important to retrain this muscle after childbirth. The best way to strengthen the muscle is by imaging yourself trying to stop passing urine and wind.
It is a bit of an unusual exercise to get used to but once you’ve mastered it you can do it just about anywhere, even try it standing in-line at the supermarket - no one will even notice that you’re doing it.
These exercises can be performed after childbirth but if you do suffer any tears during labour then it would be wise to consult your midwife or ward physiotherapist before commencing these exercises. Start off with just a couple, holding for 2-3 seconds and gradually build the number up. You should eventually be aiming for ten squeezes for a count of ten seconds twice a day.
As well as the long squeezes you should be performing some quick short squeezes, aiming for approximately twenty a day. These will help to prevent any leaking when coughing, sneezing or doing running activities.
Good Practice for the Future
These muscles are something as women we need to keep strong for the rest of our lives, so don’t stop doing them once you feel everything is back to normal, continue throughout your life. Give your pelvic floor time to rest as well after labour. Avoid any heavy lifting, excessive weight gain or constipation.
Click here to read our other Preganacy article: Where to give Birth