Becoming a mum is a wild ride, you focus so much time and energy during pregnancy on bringing your baby into the world safely and then you find yourself in the depths of the postpartum with a rollercoaster of hormones and physical changes that may be hard to recognise.
Your postpartum body requires time, support, compassion, and nourishment to recovery from pregnancy and birth. It is underestimated how much change and injury occurs during the process of pregnancy and birth by whatever means. Your pelvic floor is damaged by carrying a baby, the hormones released in pregnancy cause your pelvic floor muscles to lengthen and stretch which weakens them. During pregnancy your growing baby uterus, increased blood volume, amniotic fluid and placenta add additional weight onto your pelvic floor which creates damage. This is before birth during a vaginal birth the pelvic floor has additional pressure placed onto it and there may also be tearing to the muscles and during a caesarean birth the pelvic floor is impacted due to the weakening of the core muscle cylinder which is directly connected to the pelvic floor muscle system.
This is why the ‘bounce back’ culture is so damaging post birth and can lead to long term pelvic health injury such as prolapse and women experiencing symptoms such as leaking, heaviness and dragging, back or pelvic pain and pain with sexual intercourse. Postpartum rehabilitation requires a slow, gradual approach taking into account the sleep deprivation and other challenges and realities of motherhood.
Scar tissue takes time to heal, your abdominal muscle separation (Diastasis Recti) requires gentle support to reconnect through breathwork and gentle abdominal engagement in a way specific to the postpartum body.
Based on this view of your postpartum recovery I have a few key tips for you to help your body heal after giving birth:
· Know that it is normal to still look pregnant when you have just had a baby and this may last several weeks whilst your uterus shrinks back into your pelvis, these changes take time and do not happen overnight.
· Learn how to connect with your pelvic floor and practice pelvic floor exercises daily from day 1 post birth.
· Start each morning with 5 deep diaphragmatic breathes to help your diaphragm move and allow your core system to function in the way it was designed to.
· Prevent constipation through dietary fibre, good poop positioning on the toilet and hydrating well.
· Up your protein intake to support wound healing to happen, this is especially important for breastfeeding mums.
I would highly recommend a pelvic health assessment from 6 weeks postpartum to help you understand any injuries or weaknesses and to build an individualised approach to repairing your body in the way it deserves. A Mummy MOT check is a great way to do this, check out this week’s Podcast Episode to find out more about what this involves and how it may help you, in partnership with Aptaclub and available on all podcast platforms Midwife Pip Podcast Episode 126. Why is a Mummy MOT postnatal check important?