By Katherine Baquie, Physiotherapist and owner of FitNest Mama
Let’s chat about recovery after birth.
Because the newborn period is a time when our whole world changes as we know it. Right?
There is that gorgeous newborn smell. The newborn cry. The newborn feeds [and everything else it brings, like learning how to breastfeed].
We need to remember that our body has just grown and birthed a baby. And whether or not we’ve had a vaginal birth or a caesarean birth, our body has been through A LOT.
It’s important to know that pregnancy and childbirth are risk factors for incontinence, as well as pelvic organ prolapse [aka that sensation of a vaginal bulge/lump, or pelvic heaviness/dragging].
Those first few weeks and months after birth can set up our recovery long term. Yet it is often the simple things to help our bodies that are overlooked due to the demands of life.
So here are some easy ways to help you boost your recovery after birth. To help set the foundations for your postnatal rehab and long term recovery.
1 // LOG ROLL TO GET OUT OF BED
For those first few weeks after birth, practice getting out of bed like an old person.
Instead of doing a sit up to get out of bed, firstly roll onto your side, and then push up using your arms.
This is also a great thing to get into the habit of doing while still pregnant, especially if you have concerns around your diastasis recti [i.e abdominal muscle separation].
2 // TAKE THE CHANCE TO LIE DOWN
This is so simple, and so effective. 5-10 minutes bursts of lying down is perfect for taking the weight of gravity off your pelvic floor area and giving your abdominals a rest.
Mastering breastfeeding lying down, reading a book to your toddler lying down, or perhaps when you’re on the phone. Find any excuse to actually lie down [and not just put your feet up while still sitting] can really help here.
3 // BUILD UP WALKING, GRADUALLY
This is often a time when new mums come unstuck.
We might feel great, and set off for a walk, only to realise after 20 minutes that we still need to walk 20 minutes home, and we’re already starting to struggle.
Although you may be ready to walk, your pelvic floor and core might not have received the memo yet.
For these first few weeks, doing less is really doing more. And building up gradually is key.
4 // AVOID HEAVY LIFTING
Ok we are not talking about lifting heavy weights at the gym here. We are talking about lifting toddlers, laundry baskets, prams, capsules… you know, everyday stuff.
Whether or not you’ve had a vaginal birth or a ceasarean birth, try to avoid lifting anything heavier than your newborn for six weeks, to help your pelvic floor and abs recover.
Of course, it might not always be possible [hello screaming toddler], but even a bit of pre-planning and brainstorming can help here.
Think cuddle couch [instead of picking up your toddler]. A little step [for your toddler to climb up to wash their hands]. Delegating the laundry. And asking someone to put the pram in the car if you know you’re heading out.
5 // POSTNATAL REHAB
This is the time to start thinking about how we are going to invest in our body, to help it get stronger again after having a baby.
And I’m not talking about getting a rippling six-pack bikini body. I mean re-gaining our strength to run around confidently with the kids. To be able to pick up your kids without back pain. To be able to laugh with your friends without worrying
about peeing your pants.
As a physiotherapist for women (and a mum-of-three), I want to help mamas feel great during pregnancy, and to recover confidently after birth.
So listen to your body, after every pregnancy and birth, and take the steps to focus on your pelvic floor and core, so you can help your body recover properly.