After having a baby, most new moms are interested in getting their pre-baby body back. Magazines and the media would have you think that this can happen in as little as four weeks! (Well, that’s if you have a personal trainer, nanny, personal chef, Spanx and Photoshop… but I digress…) But, does Hollywood talk about starlet moms trying to stop leaking when they sneeze, or having pain when they wear their new tight jeans, or being unable to have intercourse with their hunky celeb husband because of pain? As a women’s health therapist, these are many of the post-partum problems that I help women with on a daily basis. The following tips will help new moms who may be having some of these problems.
Do Your Kegels
You may have been doing Kegels during your pregnancy to help with incontinence or to improve your delivery. If you have, good for you! Do not stop now. Pelvic floor strengthening post partum will help continue to prevent or decrease urinary or fecal incontinence, prevent or decrease pelvic organ prolapsed, and improve sexual function when you return to sexual activity. Contract pelvic muscles for 15 seconds in a variety of positions throughout the day, and do 10 quick contractions in various positions 2-3 times per day.
Massage your Scar
If you delivered vaginally, you may have had an episiotomy. Once the scar is healed, usually around 4 weeks or so, you should start massaging the scar to prevent hypersensitivity over that area. Many women have difficulty sitting on hard surfaces or even wearing tight pants or underwear due to pain in this area. They may also be unable to attempt intercourse due to pain. Put a little water based lubricant on your finger and massage the scar from the vagina to the anus, perpendicular to the scar. Do this for about 10 minutes daily, and you will notice a difference in about 2 weeks.
If you had a c-section, that scar will also need massage. Massage perpendicular to the scar for about 10 minutes. When you have mastered that, you can pluck the scar, and roll the scar: lifting the scar up from the skin and pinching the skin from one side to the other. Perform this technique until it is no longer uncomfortable to feel pressure on the scar, wear clothes against it, or lie on your belly.
Work your Core
You need to start strengthening your core musculature four weeks after a vaginal delivery, and six weeks after a cesarean birth. This is important, not just to get back your flat belly, but to give stability to a pelvis that is unstable after pregnancy and delivery. Strengthening your core will help decrease back pain, improve posture, in addition to helping you get back into your bathing suit! Some women will need extra guidance from a women’s health physical therapist if they developed a separation of their stomach muscles, or diastisis recti. Some modifications to the exercises may be needed to help to decrease this separation, and maximize core strength.
Don’t Avoid Sex
Many women have unexpected pain during intercourse after delivery. It may be due to the episiotomy scar, but it may also be due to tight muscles inside your pelvis. Women report that during intercourse, it feels as if “he is hitting something”. Don’t avoid sex if this happens. Find a women’s health physical therapist that can assess these muscles and treat them, so that you can get back to fun in bed!
Many new moms are surprised by the changes their bodies have gone through over the course of pregnancy and delivery. These tips should help new moms get their body back as well as their function.