Healthy Body After Pregnancy

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Giving birth is one of the most wonderful things a woman has the privilege doing, but along with the pregnancy it can have a lasting effect on our bodies which causes a lot of pain and discomfort. Today, continuing our ‘Pain Management’ theme with our physiotherapist Diaan Jooste, we will be taking a look at how to manage the discomfort and pain.

When in hospital Moms are advised to start walking as soon as possible, if you had a normal delivery it will be sooner than if you had a C-Section, where you usually start moving around the day after surgery.  The sooner you get moving, the better it is for your body.

Following any abdominal surgery it is important to start deep breathing exercises as soon as possible to keep your lungs clear. Moms are taught how to get in and out of bed with the least amount of pain and how to support their wounds when coughing, sneezing and laughing.  This will not take the pain away, but it will definitely help to have as little pain as possible.

Simple leg exercises should be performed until you are mobile in the ward to increase circulation and reduce the risk of blood clots.

A lot of emphasis is put on strengthening your pelvic floor muscles after giving  birth as your pelvic floor muscles play a large role in bladder and bowel control.  These muscles are normally firm and thick, but during pregnancy your hormones and the growing weight of the baby may have a weakening effect on the pelvic floor.  There are a lot of resources available on how to strengthen your pelvic floor, but if you are unsure contact your physiotherapist to assist you.

Back Care is also very important after giving birth, as you need to move around a lot when taking care of your baby.You can take care of your back by:

  • Standing “tall” with your tummy muscles braced
  • Always trying to work at waist height. If you need to get lower, try bending your knees and hips and keep your back straight.
  • Sitting in a comfortable chair with good back support (use a footstool to help support yourself) when feeding your baby, and consider using pillow(s) under baby to help with positioning. Try to relax the muscles in your neck and shoulders when holding and feeding your baby.
  • Not lifting anything heavier than your baby for the first 6 weeks. As we said before, whenever you are lifting, remember to bend your knees, keeping your back straight, brace your pelvic floor muscles and tummy muscles, and hold the object you are lifting as close as possible to your body. Try to avoid lifting and twisting – move your feet to turn instead.
  • Carrying your baby in front of you and not on one hip as the result is a bad posture and that could cause pain in the long run.
  • Squatting or kneeling down if your toddler needs comforting or letting him/her climb onto your lap rather than lifting them up.

It is important to slowly regain your general fitness after the birth of your baby.  Gentle walking is good exercise in the first 6 weeks and after that you may like to start gradually increasing your level of activity.  Pilates, more brisk walking or swimming is very useful to get back into an exercise program, but please speak with your instructor before starting your first session.  High impact exercise (for eg. running, aerobics), contact sports (eg. netball) or heavy weight training should be avoided for at least 3 – 4 months after the birth of your baby.

Diaan Jooste is a registered physiotherapist in Nelson Mandela Bay. Her practice is in 339 Cape road, on the corner of fifth ave and cape road in Newton park. If you have any questions or would like to make her appointment, you can contact her at diaanjooste@yahoo.com

Tune into Kingfisher FM every Friday throughout the month of May between 11:00 and 11:30 to find out more about pain management with Diaan. www.kingfisherfm.co.za

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