We all hear how important it is to look after your pelvic floor after having a baby – but what does that actually mean?!
It’s important to keep on top of the following things in the first few weeks after having a vaginal birth: (C-section to come in a later issue)
- Managing perineal swelling and pain
- Managing your bowels
- Toileting posture
- Forming good bladder habits when often dealing with reduced bladder sensation
- Pelvic floor rehab
- Mastering “The knack”
Perineal Swelling or Pain
Ice packs can be really helpful to manage swelling and pain. Take one to the hospital with you and use for 10-15minutes at a time. Make sure you have some material between your skin and the ice so you don’t get an ice burn!
Bowels – do not underestimate their importance
- One of the best things you can do for your pelvic floor is to NOT get constipated.
- Maintain a soft stool by drinking plenty of fluid and eating lots of soluble fibre – such as berries, kiwifruit, apples, citrus, prunes, green leafy veges, oats, chia seeds and beans.
- If you are taking pain relief such as codeine you might become constipated – ask for some laxatives in the hospital, they won’t hurt and will definitely help!
- Using a pad or wad of toilet paper to put pressure against your perineum when you are opening your bowels can help, especially if you are feeling sore.
Avoid straining on the toilet, take your time, and your posture is very important.
- Always sit on the toilet seat, feet can be raised on a small stool so that knees are higher than hips.
- Straight back, lean forwards, elbows or hands on thighs.
- Breathe, let your tummy out and wide.
- Keep your mouth open.
- Relax your pelvic floor muscles
Sometimes after birth there is reduced sensation in the bladder, which can lead to urinary retention if you are not getting an urge that you need to empty your bladder.
Start good bladder habits early, but come and see us, or you Dr if you have concerns regarding your bladder sensation.
- Gradually drink 2-3L of fluid over the day.
- Empty your bladder every 2-3 hours
- Make sure you sit on the toilet and don’t hover
- Take your time, make sure you relax your pelvic floor muscles.
- If struggling to empty your bladder, you can gently press on your lower stomach, or tip forwards/backwards/sideways.
You can start your pelvic floor exercises from day one. Do in lying or sitting or wherever is comfortable.
Start with s gentle pelvic floor contraction or ‘anal wink’. You might not feel a lot initially but it will get stronger.
Aim for 10 contractions once every day.
Progress to hold for 1second for every week of your babies age, eg when 2 weeks old hold for 2seconds, 3 weeks 3 seconds etc.
Get into the habit of turning your pelvic floor before you cough, sneeze, lift, or laugh. This will help support your pelvic floor and pelvic organs. Remember if the first few weeks your baby is the heaviest thing you should lift.
REMEMBER TO COME AND SEE US AT 6 WEEKS FOR YOUR POSTNATAL CHECK. But if you have any pain or concerns before this you can come earlier.