How To Take Care Of Your Postnatal Body
5 Tips To Take Care Of Your Postnatal Body
By Si En Wong, Physiotherapist
Well done! Congratulations! You did something amazing, you have given birth to something so dear and precious.
As exciting as the journey ahead can be, your body did some incredible work and you will need to take care of yourself. You will often hear women say “Oh, my body has never been the same since pregnancy.” Or “Ahh, I don’t wear bikinis anymore because of my mum-tum.”
Remember that it’s normal to have stretch-marks, some loose skin and muscle laxity in various regions. With a little tender loving care, your postnatal body will be bouncing back into action in no time.
So, where do we start?
1. Gentle Exercises
Slowly easing back into regular exercises can have a positive effect on your recovery from pregnancy and childbirth. Gentle exercises like walking or yoga can help to re-engage those muscles that have been stretched throughout your pregnancy.
Besides that, attending a postnatal class lead by a physiotherapist can also be a great way to meet other mothers that are going through a similar journey. It is advised that classes should begin around 6 weeks postnatal and after being checked by your doctor or obstetrician.
Having your baby included in your exercise routine is also a fantastic way to bond with your bub and make exercise more fun!
2. Strength Training
Higher level exercises that include running or jumping should only commence after 12-24 weeks postnatal. This is dependent on how well your body has recovered from the pregnancy.
By strengthening your muscles, you are creating support, improving core strength and body stabilizers. This can help prevent body aches with the constant lifting and bending over to pick up bub.
Clinical Movement Therapy is a great form of exercise that can help with strengthening and improving flexibility.
By working alongside your local physiotherapist, Clinical Movement Therapy can also help with reducing diastasis, a.k.a stomach muscle separation.
Diastasis can be tested by placing your fingers in the center of your abdominals, just above the belly button and doing a mini sit up. A positive result is when you can feel a dip in the center of your abdominals when you do a mini sit up and tense your abdominal muscles.
With the right exercises and the aid of your physiotherapist, it usually takes 3-6 months for a full recovery, dependent on the depth and width of separation.
Besides whole body strength exercises, it is important to do specific pelvic floor exercises.
Pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles that support your organs including the uterus, bladder, and bowel. It is also important for bowel control, bladder control and sexual function. This can start within 24-72 hours post delivery, as pain allows.
3. Physiotherapy Treatment & Specific Exercises
Getting regular treatment sessions with your physiotherapist will also help in your recovery. As a new mum, you will find yourself constantly lifting and carrying your baby which can place a strain on your lower-back. Taking care of your back is necessary for the long-term recovery and strength of your body.
Neck pain is also very common for mothers who are breastfeeding as you are fixed in one position for prolonged periods of time. Getting regular treatment like soft tissue massages, specific exercises or dry needling is beneficial to prevent muscle spasms or joint stiffness around the spine.
A physiotherapist can also work with you and provide home-exercise programs with stretches and strengthening exercises that will help you stay active and pain-free.
As simple as it sounds, it is actually hard to achieve and very quickly overlooked.
Especially when you have a newborn child, being able to sleep for 5 hours straight is rare. However, resting gives your body an opportunity to recover.
Intermittent periods of lying down are beneficial with pelvic floor recovery, as it takes the pressure off the muscle allowing it to heal.
Rest and having sufficient sleep also plays a part with breastfeeding. While your body is busy producing breastmilk, it is common to feel tired.
Oxytocin (a relaxant hormone) is also released when bub starts breastfeeding, as it is required for milk let-down. Hence it is normal for mums to feel sleepy during a breastfeeding session.
Resting does not have to mean only sleeping or sitting on the couch lazing. Rest can also mean taking time out for yourself to do things you enjoy. An activity that can help you relax and de-stress.
- soaking up some vitamin D by the beach
- making the entire house smell like a batch of freshly baked brownies
- reading a favourite magazine
- catching up with friends for coffee
- having a silent disco in the comforts of your own living room.
As you give yourself some time to be you, you are also allowing yourself to be the best version you can be for yourself and your family.
Who says mums can’t be marathon runners or mums can’t do the splits?
Setting goals that are practical within an achievable time-frame are strongly encouraged. Goal setting is a great motivation booster, it makes the journey exciting, especially when you start to gain small wins along the way.
As you start to tick things off your list, you will start to feel good about yourself and your body. Soon enough, you will be back to doing all the things you have been doing before being a mum.
To get started on a comprehensive action plan and learn more about your postnatal journey, call us on (08) 6389 2947 or click here to book online.