Your Pelvic Floor Like a Trampoline...

Hold on to your pants ladies....

here's everything you need to know about your postnatal pelvic floor

& postnatal recovery that no one ever tells you!

 

So my main job is working with pregnant and postnatal ladies & their partners, I see lots of them, yet every time I discuss postnatal healing, people are always surprised at just how much time is needed after having a baby for a full recovery. 

 

What's more no one seems to be given this advice at any of their medical appointments, the current view being that once a woman is signed off at 6 weeks she can recommence any type of exercise.  Read on for insights into what is going on & why you should give yourself 9-12 months AT LEAST before starting any high impact exercise....


 

So pregnancy is all about opening up. We are amazed by the shapes our bodies can contort and stretch into, hips and chest get wider to accommodate baby and the size a belly can stretch to is truly amazing.

 

To make this possible all the ligaments, and muscle fibres in the mid section become soft as internal organs are pushed around, making room to nurture new life.

 

Some of us enjoy this feeling, a new found power, creator of life, welcoming the curves and changes (join a pregnancy yoga class to help with this)
Others just don't, feeling out of control, weak, at the mercy of these new goings on!

Either way I think it's safe to say there's always a part of us, at least, looking forward to regaining some pre pregnancy mobility, zest & vitality. There a lot of pressure now to 'loose the baby fat' & fit back into jeans, dresses etc....

So how can we do that? What is safe?
Well, a little here about the changes that've happened....

Relaxin is the hormone responsible for allowing all this stretching & reorganising to take place.

 

Relaxin is our friend, although a combination of relaxin + misalignment can cause  pelvic girdle pain (or SPD) she is what makes us more likely to pull muscles and overstretched during pregnancy.

(One reason why pregnancy women shouldn't attend normal yoga or other exercise class's)

She also relaxes our pelvic floor muscles, who sit within the pelvis like a hammock. It's important for these muscles to get stretchy to allow babies to pass through them.
We know about this when our coughs and sneezes are accompanied by peeing & farts!
Just over half of us (new mums) have a separation down the mid-line of the tummy muscles post-pregnancy too (diastasis recti), again it's to make room for growing babies, waters & placenta.
This causes weakness in the area and lower back pain and is usually resolved afterward.

 

So does she disappear immediately after the birth? Well we don't continue to manufacture her is such vast quantities, but her effects on our ligaments and muscles are evident for 5 months onwards. And after that we still need time to rebuild our core muscle strength.

As I said earlier, the common belief is that a woman has her 6 week check up &  is ready to head back to the gym / exercise classes / military fitness etc - problem is her body has undergone these major changes, and is still soft and open to over twisting, overstretching, becoming misaligned, and further stressing her pelvic floor before it's had time to recover.
It took 9 months for your body to prepare, stretch and change- and she needs the same time at least to spring back.
Yes you are hearing me right- that's 9-12 months before recommencing any high impact sport activity, running / high impact aerobics / any type of bouncing / jumping etc...

 Imagine your pelvic floor muscles like this ....

 

..... like the material on a trampoline

 

Before pregnancy they are tight & springy like a brand new trampoline when anyone jumps on it the material springs back bouncing them high into the air!!

 

After pregnancy it's like the springs have gone a bit loose, the material has lost its elastic (remember our friend relaxin) and sags in the middle so when you jump on it you hear the springs creak and stretch dangerously, you worry about breaking it and don't spring up very high at all - EEK!

 

 

Each time you bounce, jog, jump, crunch up, lift weight etc- you are putting extra pressure on those saggy springs putting your pelvic floor at risk of further weakness leading to possible vaginal & rectal prolapse and more stress incontinence, and an all round longer recovery period.

 

Now I'm sure the idea behind any postnatal exercise programme is to heal, and nourish you, not to injure - but not every fitness instructor is trained in postnatal recovery - so be sure to ask.

 

And it's the same story for the rest of your pelvis and abdomen, there is an inherent softness.....

Meaning that the most important things you can do to regain your pre-pregnancy fitness and vitality, is to give your body plenty of ...

Rest

She who can take rest, can take cities!!!

Honestly I know its not easy, but you are doing yourself and your baby a huge favour by putting your feet up and putting your health first.

Nutritious Food

The building blocks of the cells and fibres that your body's busy repairing all come from your food - the odd take away is fine but try to eat plenty of fresh colourful foods to give your body the best building materials.

Water

Water is so, so important, you can boost your energy instantly by upping your daily water intake.  Water flushes away toxins, and hydrates every cell in your body.  Carry a bottle with your wherever you go.


 

and finally some very gentle exercise such as walking, or postnatal yoga, definitely no abdominals in the first 6 months, and no high impact for 9-12 months.

 

For more top tips on exactly what exercises are great at different stages of your postnatal recovery watch out for my next post.

 

Please comment below and share your experience of postnatal healing, how much information did your Dr, Health Visitor, or Midwife give you?

 

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