By Wendy Powell · Reproduced with permission.
Your post-pregnancy body, even your very post-pregnancy body, looks and feels different. But when is different “normal” and how do you know when something is just not right? Is your tummy supposed to look like that? Is going to the toilet supposed to feel like that? Is that always going to stick out / hurt / feel funny?
Firstly, more often than not, the childbirth part doesn’t go quite as we expected. And whether this is your first baby or your 5th, no birth is the same and your body may not react the same. Remember that Mother Nature really is pretty awesome, and your body will heal, given time, rest and some love.
But many many women are living with issues that they really shouldn’t have to, and importantly, that can be helped, if you know what movements and exercises you should or shouldn’t be doing for your particular circumstances.
Let’s start with some perfectly normal (if not altogether pleasant) symptoms and feelings your post pregnancy body may experience in the 0-8 weeks after you have your baby.
The following feelings are normal in the first 8 weeks
1. When you go to the bathroom, you may feel like your insides are going to fall out. (Like I said, normal doesn’t always mean nice…). They won’t. But they may feel like they’re going to.
2. You may surprise yourself how your ability to control your urine, stools and gas is less than ideal. I.e. you leak or fart and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.
3. You will shift about when you sit or stand, not quite sure where everything is supposed to go and trying to get comfortable.
4. You will be sore. In your pubic area, or your hips, back, neck, around your scar if you had a c-section… or any or all of the above. Actually you may be sore in lots of places[:(]
That was cheerful checklist wasn’t it? Sorry.
What you should do during this period of healing
1. Stretch and release those poor tight muscles. Stretch your calves and hamstrings; squat holding onto a heavy table leg or stair rail for support; clasp your hands behind your back and lift your hands towards the ceiling to relieve those poor shoulders and very gently raise your nose to the ceiling; lie on your back with your legs in the air and shuffle your bottom right into the wall, then let your legs drop to the side… these are just a few really beneficial stretches you can do to improve circulation and muscle release.
2. Find your pelvic floor and stomach muscles. You’re not *exercising* them, you’re *finding* them. Gently draw your belly button towards your spine on a long slow exhale whilst lifting your pelvic floor. Try to think of it not as a squeeze at the front, but a deep lift, right in the middle. Keep shoulders and chest relaxed. Take a few deep breaths like this whenever you remember, relaxing everything as you inhale, then contracting again as you exhale. Note: don’t push away on the inhale, just let go.
3. Use as many cushions, bolsters and pillows as you need to get comfortable and supported as you feed and cuddle your baby.
4. Rest, rest, rest. Go for a daily walk if you can manage. But take it easy. Then go rest some more.
8+ weeks after you had your baby...
OK, now you can gradually start to increase your levels of activity, but nothing should hurt. You should have stopped bleeding, you should have stopped hurting. If either are still going on, then please see your doctor again. You should be able to pretty much control your bladder and bowel. Some weakness and urgency is normal, but you should be able to hang on a bit.
What is not normal?
By normal here I mean, this shouldn’t be happening. It may be happening, because these symptoms are sadly very common and women just live with them. But you really shouldn’t have to, because the right corrective exercise can make a BIG difference.
1. Pain - In your back, pelvis, abdomen, hips or legs
2. Leaking urine or worse when you sneeze, laugh or cough; or leaking as you’re rushing to the toilet.
4. Bulging - Bulging or doming of your abdomen when you do any exercise or movement. Or bulging in or from your vagina or rectum.
IF YOU HAVE ANY OF THESE SYMPTOMS, IF YOU’RE WORRIED ABOUT THE WAY YOU’RE FEELING, IF YOU HAVE PAIN… PLEASE GO GET CHECKED OUT BY YOUR DOCTOR OR MIDWIFE RIGHT AWAY.
And then you can start to find and understand your core muscles, and then you need to strengthen them. You can’t do the latter until you have done the former… Do not under any circumstances do sit-ups or crunches, don’t do high impact exercise and don’t leap into a class or routine that does not give you very specific corrective exercise for a recovering mother… And to emphasise once again, if you’re not sure about anything, please, please go see your Doctor!
References: Diane Lee and Associates
Reproduced with permission from the original post on Wendy's blog here.