As a new mum I was expecting the inevitable recovery process after delivering my first baby. What I didn’t realize is how hard it is to recover while you are looking after a new little person.
The best way I can describe pregnancy and labour is by likening it to a sports injury. This made sense to me as a Physio, with the body having to pass through the acute phase and onto the subacute and recovery phases. The difference however is that when you suffer a sports injury the first line of treatment is R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation). Now I don’t know about you but letting Mummy REST is generally not high on the list of activities of a newborn. So how does a new Mum ensure that she can recover while caring for the new addition to the family?
It’s not a simple question and there is no one answer fits all but here are some handy hints from one Mum to another.
Do your pelvic floor exercises!
Every female has been told this time and time again but they are really essential no matter what form of delivery you experience. The pelvic floor have a high amount of strain placed on them with the weight of the baby pulling them constantly ground-ward during pregnancy. This strain is further exacerbated with the inevitable stretch and strain of a vaginal delivery. So there is really no way around it – pelvic floor exercises MUST be part of any Mum’s recovery program (and really should be continued throughout life).
Pelvic floor exercises can even help with reducing pain post labour by assisting with the removal of swelling from the perineal area. It’s never too early to begin your exercises, even if you aren’t very good at first. Persistence will pay off.
Rest When Your Baby Rests
Yes, I know its cliché but it really is sound advice. Motherhood is tiring and when your body is still recovering the fatigue is worse. Physical and mental exhaustion impact on the body’s ability to recover so take the time (even if it is the 20minute power nap) to get horizontal and take the pressure off. Think of this step as the elevation part of your normal first aid.
Use Recovery Aids
During my recovery I found a great product Recovery Shorts made by SRC. These were a really comfortable bikepant-like pair of shorts that provide gentle compression to the abdominal, lower back, pelvic and perineal areas. I found that these shorts helped to provide support to the areas that had been loosened and stretched through pregnancy and labour that I was now relying on when lifting, carrying and nursing a growing new born.
Using a recovery aid meant that I could have relative rest and avoid excess strain on the stretched and damaged tissues but still maintain the level of care my baby needed.
Another Physio fitted me for my Recovery Shorts, which was essential to make sure that the right fit and support was achieved. They were a little costly but they were well and truly worth the investment.
See a Physio
Seeing your Physiotherapist is the best way to learn how to do your pelvic floor exercises properly. Poor technique can nearly be as bad as not doing any exercises at all. Physiotherapists are trained to instruct you in the basic technique and provide exercises to progress onto to facilitate return to other activities like exercise and sport.
Physiotherapists can also assess you to determine if you need an assistive aid to further assist your recovery.
Activate Physiotherapy are now stockists of the SRC range of products which include aids to provide support during pregnancy as well as after delivery.
Whether your goal is to return to netball, triathlon or just to manage your daily activities and enjoy getting to know your new baby help is available.