It's important for every woman to know how to take care of herself in her postpartum period
27 February 2020| Last updated on 8 March 2020
Between all the morning sickness, round ligament pain, and swollen feet, you may be anxious about what else is to come...
Pregnancy tends to throw all sorts of physical (and emotional) surprises at expectant mothers all around the world; from nausea to water retention, vomiting, and even skin changes, a lot is going on in a pregnant woman's body.
These physical changes continue right until the very end, during and after childbirth also - particularly when it comes to your pelvic floor.
It doesn't matter how much yours may soften throughout the 9 months, ultimately your pelvic floor supports your growing baby and is one part of you that is hugely susceptible to injury during childbirth.
That's right - perineal tears, episiotomy scarring, incontinence - these are all very real (and somewhat scary) realities of giving birth. Unsurprising since, like any other muscles of our bodies, the pelvic floor can be weakened, overstretched, slow to work, too tight, or torn.
If you're an expectant mum and worrying about the strength of your pelvic floor, don't panic too much, but it is important for you to know how to take care of yourself in your postpartum period, particularly hen it comes to your pelvic floor muscles - you want them to thrive, not just survive!
Here's a complete guide to common post-partum symptoms and what to do should you be faced with an issue, according to Mediclinic Parkview Hospital.
Common, but abnormal, symptoms after childbirth
Due to the trauma childbirth has on your pelvic floor, there are common symptoms that women may experience post-delivery. Regardless, while common, these symptoms are not normal and require medical attention.
- Urine leak when you cough or run
- Having a gap in your tummy muscles
- Pain when sitting in your tail bone more than two weeks post-partum
- Lower back pain
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Pelvic pressure/heaviness or dragging sensation
- Constipation and pelvic pain
- Fecal or flatulence incontinence
What happens if symptoms go ignored?
If ignored, problems may worsen if women return to the gym, or begin running too quickly and too far, without the right core muscle support. If women continue to put up with this weakness in their core strength over time, they may end up with instability or an altered load transfer, which may lead to them developing pelvic or back pain, coccyx pain, bladder and bowel issues, and sexual dysfunction.
A combination of weakness in the pelvic floor and tummy muscles can cause bladder and bowel problems if women are trying to improve their fitness after giving birth and their pelvic floor muscles are not quite fit to do their job.
When to start your pelvic floor muscle assessment and treatment
Any time after six to eight weeks postnatal would be an ideal time to start your pelvic floor muscle assessment and commence individualised exercise regimes under the supervision of a pelvic floor and/or women's health physiotherapist... Provided there are no known postnatal complications or infections.
The only way you can be sure is to have your muscles assessed by a women's health physiotherapist.
Remember - up to 50% of women perform their pelvic floor exercises incorrectly, so it's a good idea to seek advice and treatment from a trained professional to help you during this period.
How are my pelvic floor muscles assessed?
Your pelvic floor muscles are one of the main hidden core muscles and require a gentle internal examination to assess the proper strength and correct functioning of the muscles.
Is it necessary to have an individualised exercise regime?
It is important to get the right muscles working in the right way. There is a high level of evidence that states more than 50% of women find it difficult to engage the right muscles after giving birth.
In fact, popular opinion dictates kegel exercises are great for postnatal - but it's important to bear in mind that Kegel exercises are not a "one-size-fits-all" for women.
Your pelvic floor muscle also acts as a lid to your bladder and bowel. These muscles equally need to relax as they squeeze, and unbeknownst to some, between 30 to 40% of women have a hyperactive or tight pelvic floor muscles after giving birth. Of course, this depends on the mode of delivery, instruments at the time of birth (forceps, vacuum), prolonged difficult deliveries, perineal tears, and if any stitches are given. These women need relaxation and down-training exercises prior to doing Kegel exercises.
How to get help with your concerns
You can discuss any issues with your gynecologist, orthopaedic consultants, doctors, and physiotherapists who will help to get you the proper referrals when visiting Mediclinic hospitals.
Women's health physiotherapy services are an evolving service in the UAE and at Mediclinic Parkview Hospital and Mediclinic City Hospital, specialist women's health physiotherapy/pelvic floor services are available which aim to provide continuity of care for women throughout their pregnancy and postnatal care.
If you wish to book a consultation to discuss your concerns regarding your postnatal journey, simply press click to contact to get in touch with the Mediclinic team below!
For further details, you may book a consultation with Tharani Pitchaisivaram at Mediclinic Parkview Hospital (pictured above) or visit Maria Harrop Peel at Mediclinic City Hospital.