Nowadays there is so much pressure for a mum to be up and about looking back to their pre-pregnancy self so quickly after they have had a baby – but it just puts so much stress on your body which is said to have done more through labour than if you were to have run a marathon!
Interestingly if you told someone that you had ran a marathon and consequently had a severe tear in your leg muscles or had any muscle in your body cut open completely, people would not only tell you to rest, but professionals would tell you to rest those muscles for at least 4-6 months! But hardly anyone is ever told this when they have had a baby!
So bearing all this in mind here is a few pieces of advice that have really helped me get my body back in alignment since I had my baby:
- REST! Rest, rest, rest! Honestly there is no pressure from anyone, other than potentially yourself to get out of bed and back in those pre-pregnancy jeans! In other cultures the mum and baby are cocooned in a bed for up to 6 weeks following the birth to allow the mum and baby to bond and for the mum to heal properly.All physical activity that is undertaken after the birth is not only putting pressure on your body, which is still bleeding and contracting to allow your uterus to shrink back to its normal size, but also your pelvic floor (and potentially any stitches if you had an episiotomy) which has already been weakened through your pregnancy and the birth. All of this increases the risk of stress incontinence (peeing when you cough, sneeze or exercise). Believe me, even if you don’t think that will ever happen to you…. it will.
- Go and see a physiotherapist. About 6-8 weeks after you have had your baby I suggest going to see a physiotherapist to ensure that your body gets back into alignment. I honestly felt like I had been in a car crash after I had Rupert, my neck muscles were so sore, I couldn’t lift my right arm higher than shoulder height without masses of pain, and my back felt out of kilter. I went to an amazing physiotherapist at Southfields Physiotherapy and she managed to put my hips back into alignment and give me some gentle exercises to do which would stop it going back into the same position.
- Go and see a women’s health physiotherapist. I went to see Megan at APPI in Wimbledon village and she did an internal examination of my pelvic floor and checked to see whether I had Diastasis recti which is a separation of the ab muscles.
A check of your pelvic floor muscles and your abdominals are so important to ensure that you will eventually gain the necessary strength to be able to enjoy an active lifestyle.
I will do a post soon which will show you the exercises that you can do after you have had your baby and pre your 6 week check up that can help bring those abs back together if you do have Diastasis recti.
With your pelvic floor – the midwives have been saying it throughout your pregnancy, and now I will say it afterwards… DO YOUR PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES!!! Believe it or not there are 3 groups of pelvic floor exercises that you can do – I will do a post on this as well soon. But whatever you do in the meantime… just do them… everyday…. promise???
It was at this appointment that Megan opened my eyes to the reality that I should not be running or doing any impact exercises for at least 4-6 months after Ruperts birth date as my body needed to recover from the episiotomy I had. So there went my dreams of running and doing hundreds of tuck jumps (only joking about the tuck jumps.. I hate them!) and instead I spent the next 4 months modifying my Kayla circuits and doing my pelvic floor exercises!
- Go and see a sport massage therapist. I would advise after you have seen the initial physiotherapist, go to a sports massage therapist every 5-6 weeks regularly, even if it is just for 30 minutes. This will ensure that someone is keeping an eye on your alignment, keeping your muscles supple and relaxed, and can let you know whether you are favouring one side of your body! I am… and I also have a curve in my spine (who knew!) and so they have advised that I am more conscious about the side I carry Rupert on, what side I carry the changing bag and which side I sleep. All of this should help keep me supple and able to kick ass at the exercise that I want to do!
I do realise that I am so lucky to be able to afford all of these things; I know that this may not be possible for everyone, so, I would definitely prioritise the top three if I had to pick any. These are either free or one off costs (about £45 for each session) and they are also essential for any follow up with your doctor if you wanted them to refer you on.
I hope that this was helpful – as always, do let me hear any feedback!