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Post-natal recovery

Mother breast-feeding baby

By Burgie Ireland RN RM SANC

Oh, baby you, got me in the shape I’m in!

Recovery after birth.

Pregnancy and birth change the shape of your body – both inside and out. Moisturises can help to fade stretch marks, exercise can flatten your tummy and bigger clothes can hide those extra kilos, but what about internal recovery? How do you rejuvenate that sling of over-stretched pelvic floor muscles? 

Healing and recovery after birth takes time, patience and determination. This challenge is made tougher now that there’s more than one of you to cope with. You thought that you would have all the time in the world – but somehow there just aren’t enough hours in a day!

The weight of your baby and the strain of giving birth on the pelvic floor can weaken this sling of elasticated tissue. Pregnancy hormones soften muscles, joints and ligaments in preparation for birth, but once baby is born, these muscles need to snap back to their original positions to support the bladder, womb and bowel. If this is not achieved, it could, in years to come, result in a prolapse, sometimes even necessitating corrective surgery

Because giving birth (especially vaginal birth) is such a strenuous event, women need to start preparing during pregnancy – ideally from six months. Ante-natal exercises teach women which muscles to use when ‘pushing’, prepping these muscles to improve endurance, flexibility and relaxability. They should be passive and non-strenuous, helping women to generate, rather than deplete energy.

Post-natal exercises help to build strength, tighten muscles and improve energy levels. Pelvic floor exercises can be done any time of the day, standing, sitting or squatting.

Top recovery tips:

  • Learn to focus on what’s important: food, warmth and comfort
  • Give yourself time to heal
  • Focus on achievements
  • Make time to enjoy a hot bath (alone) every day
  • Call a friend when you’re not coping.
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