Postnatal Recovery – A Plan of Action for New Mums to feel like their ‘Old Selves’!
When it comes to researching pregnancy and all that comes with it, most pregnant women will read books, talk to friends/family, or hit Dr Google at 4am when laying awake with only our ‘monkey-minds’ for company (don’t worry… we all do it..!). But it’s rare we discuss the phenomenal changes and affect it has on the functioning of the female body. Growing a beautiful baby human takes 40 weeks of major bodily changes. From hormonal, to structural and we haven’t even begun touching on the emotional affect. It will take a massive toll on our lovely and fascinating bodies and what most women forget is there is a recovery period… and it’s not just for the week after you baby arrives into the world! There is a full 6 to 12 month recovery required for your body to heal itself after pregnancy and delivery. Muscles and ligaments need to heal. Joints need to settle back in place and psychologically, Mum needs rest and lots of it. Yet, I hear about most new mums wanting to get back to Cross-fit or Spinning, two weeks after giving birth! Social media has not helped in our fight to get new mums to take it easy in the first weeks after baby… It only adds pressure.
Our clinic sees most pregnant women calling in for pelvic and back pain. As baby grows in-utero, your spine changes shape and your pelvis starts to widen. The pelvic outlet will widen up to 30% more than normal, to allow for delivery of baby and the sacrum (tailbone) moves back 30 degrees during a vaginal birth! It can take 3 months for these bones to settle back down… Imagine going to a spinning class or getting back to jogging with a pelvis that has changed that much… ouch!!
Anyway, no matter how you deliver your baby, the process will weaken your body. A lot! Abdominal and pelvic floor muscles will need a long time to strengthen again. New mums looking to get back to exercise will struggle with a ‘Catch-22’ scenario… wanting to exercise to get strong but her body won’t let her. As women, we must learn to listen to our bodies… rest with your baby for 6 weeks at least. Then, when you feel ready to get back to doing some LIGHT exercise (walking, yoga, pilates) get yourself checked over mechanically first. Here at Procuro we have physical therapy and cranial osteopathy to help your body to gently recover from any sacral discomfort and to ease away any emotional pain you may have from the delivery. We also have Reflexology to get your hormones back in track. We’ll talk more about that in a bit. Once we get your body physically back in line and comfortable again you will feel ready for exercise. You will then reap the benefits of working out without risking injury.
EXERCISE Postpartum: Finding your fit again
My patients hear me saying this all of the time: “Go Slow”! You will know when you are ready for exercise. You’ll be sick of the house after a few weeks and will feel ready to throw on the trainers and trendiest lycra pants and hit the roads! Ok, so you need to get yourself moving, but it’s also important to keep your now delicate body, safe. Starting with a casual walk (30 mins) each day for a few days to get the body moving and increasing time and distance slowly and by the week, is a safe and manageable way to begin your journey back to strength.
As classes go, you cannot do wrong by booking yourself a class or two of yoga every week for 6 to 8 weeks before you take on any other classes. I recommend Himalaya Yoga Valley in Cork City and Ballincollig as the yoga practiced here is super safe for recovering new mums and the class times are varied so busy new Mums can find a time that suits. They also have a morning class where you can actually bring baby with you which is gorgeous for both Mum and baby! Pilates is also a wonderful way to get the abdominals strong again after C-section. I would not advise, running/spinning/cross-fit/weights etc for at least 6 months after pregnancy and even at that, please start with the above exercises first. That way you do not risk injury and at least you are getting those lovely endorphins that exercise brings to a fatigued and stressed body and mind.
Reflexology for Post Natal Recovery – getting back to being you!
Hormones fluctuate during and after pregnancy. Relaxin hormone is released and the stress hormone Cortisol is working overtime! So it is never too late to start reflexology when you are having a baby. But booking a treatment within the first 6 weeks after delivery is vital to keep mum happy and relaxed. Fears can rise up bringing on anxiety and mum can feel exhausted and overwhelmed by it all. If she’s breast feeding then her own nutrients can be depleted. Not to mind lack of sleep.
Postnatally is the most difficult time to get women to seek treatment, as naturally they will feel that caring for themselves has to come after caring for everybody else. Most women will recover with no issue and adjust to their new life without any set back but for some women they will need added support and help to heal. 1 in 10 women suffer postnatal depression and it can be clinically related back to major hormone imbalance. Bringing hormones back to their natural, original state (homeostasis) can’t be understated in the case of Post-natal depression. Even more so if there is a history. So please feel free to look for some help. You are looking after baby by looking after yourself and getting well again. Reflexology is a wonderful treatment for loads of post pregnancy issues:
- Emotional support and care
- Helping to get over any birth related trauma
- Supporting the menstrual cycle as it begins to regulate again
- Maintaining or increasing milk supply
- Postnatal depression or anxiety
- General relaxation
Help and support is there for you Mum and it won’t always be at the GP or Hospital although we do need to work with them. Margaret Hennessy, our resident Reflexologist and Lorraine Blackshields Physical Therapist at Procuro Clinic have been looking after Want-to-be mums, Soon-to-be Mums and Brand New Mums for over 10 years now and aim to have mum feel reassured, safe and relaxed. Each treatment is individually tailored to you.
Speak to your local Physios, Reflexologists, Osteopaths, Doulas, Midwives or simply call us here at Procuro on 0212397030 for any questions related to pregnancy or post pregnancy. If we can’t help you we will know someone who can. Be patient ladies and be kind… most importantly to yourself! Your body is an incredible machine and has the ability to get strong again, but it needs time… you have come this far in your baby journey, now it’s time to take care of you so you can be there for baby.