Post-Partum Care: Key Points for Mothers
Following delivery, all mothers will likely experience physical or emotional changes in their bodies. These changes can include alterations in body weight, shape, posture, mobility, energy, and mood. As the pelvis widens and the abdomen stretches to accommodate the baby during pregnancy, it’s common for first-time mothers to experience some discomfort in their low back, pelvis, or abdomen after childbirth.
Depending on the type of delivery (vaginal birth or C-section), postpartum recovery may take between six-eight weeks and extend up to a few months. For C-section delivery, there may be more restrictions in the weeks following childbirth, which commonly include avoiding heavy lifting and strenuous sporting activities.
New Mothers may also experience Common Issues such as:
> Sore nipples from breastfeeding
> Blocked milk ducts
> Other aches and pains
> Lack of sleep or sufficient rest
While it can be challenging to deal with these changes while caring for your newborn, a postpartum rehabilitation or recovery program may be beneficial in facilitating and speeding up your postpartum recovery.
Goals of Postpartum Rehabilitation include:
- Improving the strength of the core, hip, and pelvic floor muscles
- Management of low back pain or pregnancy-related aches and pains
- Decrease risk of urine leakage due to strained pelvic floor muscles
- Postural Education and sporting advice
- Facilitate return to the pre-pregnancy level of function.
Postnatal rehabilitation is targeted to help new mothers to recover effectively following delivery. It can be provided by physiotherapists or osteopaths specialized in women’s health and postnatal rehabilitation.
All postnatal women regardless of delivery mode are advised to visit a physiotherapist for pelvic health assessment before returning to sporting activities. Any signs or symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction indicate further or ongoing assessment and management before continuing and progressing training/sports. Trying to return to your usual physical activities too soon after delivery can lead to an increased risk of straining your muscles, negatively impacting your body and your quality of life.
Postpartum Care Programs: How does it help?
The therapist will tailor a postpartum program to your needs, which will typically include pain management, massage, strengthening or stretching exercises, postural advice or exercises, guidance for your daily activities, as well as help you prepare to return safely to sports activities. Postnatal rehabilitation can also prevent and reduce the risk of spinal and pelvic pain occurring months or years after delivery, and reduce the associated risk of urinary incontinence or prolapse as a result of sports activities later in life during menopause.
Aside from attending a rehabilitation program, the best way to speed up body recovery after childbirth is to combine an exercise program with healthy eating. A progressive exercise regime that suits your body can guide you to an early and safe return to pre-pregnancy activities. Try engaging in low-impact cardiovascular activities such as walking, cycling, swimming to prep the body and boost your overall circulation and stamina. Always start slowly and progressively increase the frequency and intensity of exercise to avoid being exhausted and over pushing your body.