Our bodies undergo some unexpected changes after pregnancy and birth. From nagging back aches to frequent visits to the toilet and embarrassing bladder accidents, there are a host of issues women are simply putting up with. Fortunately, there are ways to recover and strengthen our post-baby bodies, and put a stop to pain, discomfort and leaks.
On the final episode of the Bodyshock series, we look at the vagina and pelvic area.
Here are five ways to help your pelvic area out:
1. Do your pelvic floor exercises
Simply getting into a daily habit of pelvic floor squeezes could be the answer to your woes. A strong pelvic floor leads to a stronger back and a healthier bladder. Say goodbye to bladder and bowel control problems by practicing three sets of ten repetitions of squeezing and lifting your pelvic floor muscles as you breathe out and letting the muscles drop as you breathe in.
2. Find out if you have pelvic organ prolapse right away
Prolapse doesn’t just happen as you age; in fact it could happen from your first birth. You could have early stage prolapse that’s not obvious beyond accidental leaks during exercise or a heavy sensation in your back or pelvis. Seeing a women’s health physiotherapist for a prolapse assessment means treating the prolapse early, usually with the help of a support device known as a pessary, before it gets worse as you age.
3. Visit the bathroom regularly
Avoid constipation by drinking plenty of fluids and eating lots of colourful and leafy vegetables. This reduces unnecessary pressure and strain on the pelvic organs and pelvic floor muscles. Sitting on the toilet with the feet elevated so that the knees are above the hips allows the pelvic floor to relax and reduces the need to strain.
4. Find exercise you love
Regular exercise is important in reducing back pain, and it’s important to choose exercise that you enjoy, whether it’s pilates, yoga, running or weights-training. However, it’s equally important to be pelvic floor aware when exercising, especially if you have control problems or pain. Practice activating your pelvic floor muscles throughout your workout to really build a “functional” pelvic floor.
5. Heal your abdominal separation
Every pregnant woman’s abdominal wall will stretch, and in 40% of mums this stays stretched and weak after birth. Unfortunately, this weakness could be the main reason why you’re experiencing back or pelvic pain, bladder or bowel control problems, and even prolapse. Strengthening the deep abdominal muscles known as transversus abdominis will help build strength and stability, and consequently reduce unwanted symptoms, as well as help you lose the appearance of “mummy tummy”.
Heba Shaheed is the co-founder of The Pelvic Expert, where she provides online exercise, nutrition and pelvic floor physiotherapy programs for mothers, pregnant women, and women with pelvic pain and endometriosis.
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