Post-Delivery Core and Pelvic Floor Exercises, Meditations, Recipes and Educational Content
Congratulations you just had a baby!!
Bring out the confetti because you just finished a 9-month stint carrying around a growing weight AND pushed it out (whether vaginally or surgically). There are hugs, kisses, happy tears, rejoicing. After the excitement starts to quiet down you may start to notice that things are feeling a little different…..”down there” in your pelvic floor.
You may start to wonder: is that normal? Should things still feel this way after a few days? Should I be doing Kegels now? What SHOULD I be doing to get things back to normal?
In all the chaos of having a brand-new baby you can forget to take care of yourself and I wanted to reassure you that there are normal things to feel in your natural recovery and there are some things you should be aware of when it comes to taking care of your pelvic floor (yep, that area “down there”). We’re going to tackle the first 6 weeks after birth and the top 3 things you should be doing.
Weakness Is Normal
In the first few days you’ll most definitely feel weakness around your vagina, especially if you’ve delivered vaginally, and that is completely normal. Your muscles are pretty tired after carrying around a heavy weight and stretching to accommodate baby. So yes, this applies to you as well if you’re had a C-Section. If you saw a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist during pregnancy they will have suggested what to do after baby and often that includes resuming basic Kegel exercises in order to wake those muscles up and remind them what to do. Those exercises will not feel the same and that is OK! It’s as if you just ran a marathon and we’re asking you to go for a walk or even light jog the day after. You’re going to be a little bit tired.
If you have NOT seen a pelvic floor PT then you will still want to try to perform Kegel exercises in the early stages. This means practicing squeezing muscles between your sit bones as if you’re stopping yourself from going pee or stopping yourself from passing gas. One thing you cannot do is perform these exercises while actually peeing as you will confuse the muscle-bladder-brain connection. In the first 6 weeks you are not aiming to run the “Kegel marathon” but you’re re-teaching those muscles how to contract effectively as well as re-training your brain what it feels like to contract and relax those muscles. Don’t overdo it when it comes to repeating these throughout the day. You will want to ensure you are not using other muscles besides just the pelvic floor. How will you know? Well, no one else should be able to tell you are doing Kegels. So that means: no butt clenching, no legs shaking, no pelvis rocking or tilting, no movements that you should be able to see!
Belly Breathing Comes Next
Second thing you will want to practice is deep belly breathing. That means lying on your back taking a nice big inhale watching your belly rise and feeling your ribs pushing out to the sides. This will help to put a normal stretch and pressure on the pelvic floor. As much as we want to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, we also want to make sure they fully relax. Again, they are tired after their hard work and they need some loving! Practice deep breathing 1-3x/day taking 5 deep breaths each time.
Scary First Poop
We’ve all gone through it, some of us even multiple times, but the first poop can be terrifying! Follow the advice of your healthcare practitioner when it comes to medications. When it comes time to finally get the poop out you’ll want to assume a nice position on the toilet. That means buttocks resting nicely on the seat (no seat hovering!), and feet positioned on a stool so your knees are higher than the level of your hips. This provides an optimal position for stool to come out as easily as possible and not require any pressure or force. If you’re feeling timid still with this position you can always place some toilet paper on your hand and apply pressure vaginally so as not to feel as if things are just going to fall out. Practice deep belly breathing in this position to ease stool out as well. Soon you’ll be laughing about your fear of the toilet!
Do not worry about getting back to traditional exercise at this stage. Put your focus on rehabbing your pelvic floor so working back to exercise in the coming months is doesn’t cause problems. The 6 weeks will pass quickly and you’ll want to enjoy all the snuggles with baby.
**DISCLAIMER – always check with your health practitioner whether you can engage in certain activities in the post-partum period. The information given here is for a general recovery after birth.
Vanessa Dougan is a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist in Canada as well as an online women’s health coach. As a mom of 2 herself, she has a passion for helping other moms return to the activities they love and lose the baby weight without peeing their pants! She works intimately with clients to achieve their goals whether it is to rehab their diastasis recti (abdominal gap), lose the mummy tummy, break the diet cycle, strengthen their entire core or other fitness goals after baby. You can see more mom tips on Instagram (www.instagram.com/corestrengthmomma) or follow her for live FB tips (https://www.facebook.com/vanessa.dougan.5)
The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.