An Introduction to Life After Pregnancy

All You Need to Know About Life After Pregnancy

This is a quick introduction into what women may experience postpartum, the changes the body has gone through, the pressure that society has put on women or the pressure that they put on themselves to get back in shape, the importance of the pelvic floor and the role it plays. As well as how to get your body back or potentially better and stronger than it was before.

life after pregnancy image

First of all, the body has been through so many changes over the last 9 months that we can’t expect to return to the way we were pre-pregnancy straight away. The body is amazing, the changes that it had to undertake is incredible. Treat postpartum as you would any other injury; it needs time and rehab to help heal efficiently. During pregnancy the body had to adapt to too many different things, to list a few:

  • The abdominal muscles had to expand (big time)
  • Internal organs had to be moved around and squished
  • The back had to become tighter in order to counteract the extra weight in the front (the growing baby)
  • The pelvis had to widen and expand
  • The pelvic floor had to withstand a huge amount of pressure on it for months
  • The diaphragm got pushed up and probably stopped working properly
  • Ribs had to spread apart to make room, which also affects diaphragm function
  • Ligament laxity is increased due to changes in hormones

With all of the adjustments that had to take place, it’s unrealistic and unfair to expect the body to be exactly how you want it postpartum. Generally women feel under pressure to look or feel a certain way after pregnancy but give yourself a break, anyone that expects that of you has probably never been through pregnancy before.

Most common complaints made by women postpartum (after pregnancy):

  • Leaking as a result of coughing, sneezing, or exercise (stress incontinence)
  • Postural changes from head to toe; the body changes during pregnancy and it takes time to regain good alignment
  • Pelvic floor prolapse
  • Diastasis (stomach bulging)

One thing that I would like to point out is that you are not alone. Up to 98% of women are going to have at least one of these complaints. This is not something that we should ignore just because people just assume that they have to deal with these problems alone after having a child. After pregnancy normal pelvic floor function has been lost but with simple rehab this can be retrained so that you aren’t trying to squeeze as hard as you can during activity just so you don’t leak (which is the wrong thing to do anyway).

Pelvic diagram

A little bit about the pelvic floor itself:

The pelvic floor muscles are the foundation of the core of the body. Think of it as a supportive hammock at the base of the pelvic bowl made up of interrelated muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It plays a massive role in the wellbeing of our body. Not only is it a stabilizer for the pelvis, it also has to support the internal organs of the lower abdominal cavity, it helps transfer load from the lower body to the upper body especially during high impact. It can tighten or relax the sphincters of the vagina, anus and urethra, which helps with the passing of urine and faeces, and it is very important during intercourse. The pelvic floor is supposed to contract and relax as we breathe and do strenuous tasks without us being aware of it. So although Kegels sometimes help strengthen the pelvic floor, they are not always the answer. Sometimes the pelvic floor is already too overworked or underworked and both cause weakness and leave us with higher risk factors. That is why it is important to have individual specific rehab because an exercise that could aid one person could potentially hinder another.

Rehabilitation Considerations:

Rehabilitation is completely individual and dependent on the person. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. The body went through 9 months of postural changes and stresses so 9 months recovery is sometimes necessary. It doesn’t matter if a women is a few days post-partum or a few years, without specific training some of our issues get covered up as opposed to treated. Rehab mostly involves deep breathing patterns which retrains the pelvic floor naturally, looking at what needs to be mobilized and strengthened in the body, postural awareness, and getting you listening to your body and also training that is specific to you and your goals. The main thing is that you get back to what you love doing in a safe way that does not impede your recovery time or add potential risk.

If you wish to learn more about this check out the follow up to this blog ‘The effects that breathing has on stress and healing’.

To book an appointment or if you have any queries contact Megan on 0873837866 or megan@painandperformanceclinic.ie