Written by Bethany Ford, Pelvic Health Physiotherapist shared via Bethany Ford.
As women, our bodies undergo some pretty amazing changes during pregnancy and birth. Its design is so incredible we are able to accommodate a growing baby for 9 months and then give birth bringing new life into this world. Wow.
While we marvel at the body’s ability to adapt and change, it’s also really important we consider recovery after birth and what this actually means. Never before have women been under so much pressure from a huge variety of different sources, including the media, to ‘bounce back’ and resume all the activities they were previously doing after having a baby, not to mention looking as they did before they were pregnant.
While we marvel at the body’s ability to adapt and change, it’s also really important we consider recovery after birth and what this actually means.
Giving your body adequate time to recover from the effects of pregnancy and birth is the first important step, alongside some really good quality advice and information regarding when to resume different types of exercise and activity. The pelvic floor and abdominal muscles arguably undergo the most considerable change during pregnancy and birth, for some women recovery will happen all by itself but for many, there can be some delay and ongoing problems in the form of abdominal muscle separation and pelvic floor muscle dysfunction.
Separation of the abdominal muscles in a normal part of pregnancy, as your body accommodates to fit your growing baby, however some women develop a larger separation and post birth this can lead to weakness in the abdominal wall. You may notice a gap or hollow in your abdomen or even a doming or bulge when you sit up or move. Some women will also experience pelvic and low back pain as a result of their abdominal separation.
Pelvic floor dysfunction can present in a number of different ways. The effects of pregnancy and birth can lead to stretching and weakness of the pelvic floor muscles, causing incontinence from the bladder or bowel, as well as pelvic organ prolapse where you may experience a vaginal bulge, dragging or heaviness. For some women, the pelvic floor muscles can become tight leading to pain and discomfort during sexual intercourse. Pelvic health physiotherapy can help address these imbalances in the pelvic floor and design an appropriate programme to improve your symptoms.
No matter how you gave birth whether via caesarean section or vaginal delivery, I recommend all women should see a pelvic health physiotherapist postnatally for assessment and rehabilitation. It will enable you to safely return to activity at a rate that is right for you and your body, as well as addressing any problems right away, ensuring they do not become lifelong issues.
No matter how you gave birth whether via caesarean section or vaginal delivery, I recommend all women should see a pelvic health physiotherapist postnatally for assessment and rehabilitation.
A ‘New Mum Check-up’ is a postnatal appointment with a pelvic health physiotherapist, where you will be offered a comprehensive assessment of your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, as well as your posture, breathing and any discomfort you may be experiencing post birth. Your pelvic floor strength will be evaluated as well as any degree of abdominal separation and a bespoke rehabilitation programme will be designed for you. Your individual needs and goals will be taken into consideration, with a view to getting you back to doing what you love, whether that’s looking after your kids as a busy mum, walking the dog, running marathons or going to Crossfit.
I recommend an initial appointment from 6-8 weeks postnatally, however even if you are some years down the line after having your babies, it’s never too late to address problems that have developed since childbirth. Many women can come to accept these types of problems as normal not realising help is available. With pelvic health physiotherapy you can regain confidence you may have lost and improve your quality of life.
Even if you are some years down the line after having your babies, it’s never too late to address problems that have developed since childbirth.
If you have any questions about a ‘New Mum Check-up’ appointment get in touch via the ‘contact’ page or to schedule an appointment contact Inform Physiotherapy in Silverstream on 04 527 4155.