Pregnancy and childbirth can bring great joy, but they can also be hard on your body. Doing simple exercises and forming healthy habits can help you cope with many of the changes to your body. It can also help reduce injuries and problems in the future.
More lifting and bending means it’s important to look after your back after pregnancy.
Pregnancy, Childbirth and Your Body…
When you are pregnant, your body changes. Your muscles stretch, especially those in your abdomen and your pelvic floor.Also, your ligaments soften. Ligaments connect bone to bone and provide vital support for your joints.To help look after your body during pregnancy, and to recover after childbirth, simple exercises can be used to help you strengthen these muscles. At SPHC, we also offer Mums N Bubs Pilates classes, where you can learn the best exercises to do.
Pelvic Floor and Abdominal Exercises
It is important to do exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles while you are pregnant. It’s also important to continue these exercises after the birth of your baby. Please talk to your GP or Physiotherapist for specific advice to suit your circumstances.
Your Pelvic Floor
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that supports the pelvis, helps with bladder and bowel control and is important in sexual function. Pregnancy makes your pelvic floor weaker. 60% of women who have been taught pelvic floor exercises go home and do them incorrectly which is why it’s so important to have your activation checked by a properly trained physiotherapist.
Your Abdominal Muscles
Doing abdominal exercises every day for at least 6 weeks after the birth of your baby can help you regain your strength as well as your pre-pregnancy shape. Don’t do sit ups for at least 8 weeks after giving birth. Instead, it’s best to do pelvic tilts and abdominal bracing exercises.To perform pelvic tilts:
- lie, stand or sit with your knees bent and your feet flat
- gently flatten the curve of your lower back by tilting your pelvis backwards
- hold for 3 to 5 seconds
- repeat 5 to 10 times
It’s important to look after your back to help prevent backache and injury. New mothers are at risk of back injury because they are lifting and bending more than usual.You can help look after your back by:
- keeping good posture
- avoiding lifting heavy things
- working at benches or tables at waist height
- using chairs with good back support
- avoiding holding your baby on one hip
Healthy Habits After Pregnancy
Getting into healthy habits after you’ve been pregnant will help avoid unwanted problems that can go with childbirth, such as weakened bladder control.Some of the most important habits to get into include:
- exercise – walk every day, and do daily pelvic floor and abdominal exercises
- good bladder habits – drink plenty of fluids; only urinate when your bladder feels full
- good bowel habits – avoid constipation and straining; eat plenty of high fibre foods, such as fruit and vegetables
Our lovely Physiotherapist Jessica has a passion for treating pregnancy, incontinence and women’s/men’s health issues. Jessica is a qualified APA Level One Pelvic Floor practitioner and has done further study in Overactive Pelvic Floor and Pelvic Pain and Exercise in the Childbearing year.