Top 3 complications Post-Birth.

Being pregnant, giving birth and then looking after a baby – it’s all particularly hard work on the body and comes at a time when you are more focused on the baby and less focused on you. However you need to look after your own body, you only get one and if it isn’t functioning as well as it should is makes life a lot harder.

Three of the key complications that can occur during pregnancy and postnatally:

1. Diastasis Recti.

This is a seperation of the tummy musclesDiastasis Recti that run vertically down the tummy (the Rectus Abdominus or 6 pack muscles). It can happen naturally but there are also things you can do to prevent it from becoming too large an issue whilst pregnant. After your 6 week check is then the time to get this checked out and to address it.

Top Tips: No sit ups in pregnancy and post-birth. Don’t go back to high impact exercise too quickly as it can make this worse and use safe postnatal Pilates exercises to fix it.

2. Pubis Symphysis Derangement:

Otherwise known as pelvic girdle pain or SPD. This occurs when there is movement in the symphysis pubis, and a misalignment of the pelvis. It leads to pain in the pelvis and groin region. This is usually worse on standing, walking, climbing stairs, getting in and out of a car and activities that involve having the weight on one leg. Pilates can help by strengthening the core (above the pelvis) and the thigh and bum muscles (below the pelvis). These strengthening exercises effectively help the body support the pelvis and take the pressure off. This can happen in pregnancy, during labour or after birth.

Pilates with Priya: The Pelvis

Top Tips: Your local obstetric physiotherapist may be able to help with misalignment. Then use Pilates specific exercises to help strengthen and maintain the correct posture and position.

3. Hunched Posture:

Being pregnant means heavier breasts, a bump and often rounded shoulder to compensate for the heavier load. Having a baby means you end up leaning forward a lot to play, pick up, feed and change your little one. Carrying a baby around leads to tense shoulders and feeding can be awful for the posture too. Having a rounded upper back leads to tight shoulders and neck, tight hamstrings, weak gluteals (bum) and tummy muscles. It also doesn’t look great.

Top Tips: Keep checking your posture in the mirror, think about it when you feed and carry baby. Make posture part of your everyday awareness.

For specific exercises and more top tips try “Beyond Your Bump”

Losing the Baby Weight Week 4.

The past 4 weeks has on the one hand flown past and on the other hand it feels like its been forever that this little boy has been around. Life has calmed down with visitors being less frequent, more of a natural routine appearing and sleep deprivation properly setting in as the adrenaline wears off!

I’ve just gone back to post natal Pilates, very cautiously. It’s great to be back in my studio exercising with other mums but I’m pacing myself and only doing short bursts of gentle core work.  My tummy muscles separated a little in this second pregnancy, a condition known as diastasis recti, and I have a 1cm gap at present. This is nothing to worry about but I’m keen to close this gap completely before attempting any exercises that involve curling up.

For more on diastasis recti see here and here.

Here is my post natal mummy tummy. I’m keen to dispel the perfect tummy, air brushed celeb look and would love pics of your post baby tummies, at at any stage after baby for a blog post. Names optional! Please send them through to me – priya@pilateswithpriya.co.uk

 

Pilates with Priya: Post Natal Tummy Week 4
Pilates with Priya: Post Natal Tummy Week 4

I’m also trying to fit in a daily walk, the fresh air and cardiovascular exercise is great for me and baby. Plus having a toddler have to get out and about. It’s all about pacing yourself and planning I think. What are your thoughts?

Losing the Baby Weight: Week 2

This week has been mainly spent in hospital as baby Judah lost a little too much weight. Now most babies tend to lose some weight post-birth and they are allowed to lose up to 10% of their birthweight with no concerns. Little Judah ended up losing 15% of his birthweight so we were admitted for tests and monitoring.

Now hospital is not a fun place to be and with all the tests, feeding and being in a hospital room it became 5 days of mainly sitting and lying down with occasional sleeping 😉 So all the gentle walks I had been planning didn’t happen.

On of the questions the medical team had was over my milk supply and quality, so I focused a lot on feeding, expressing milk and eating well. You need an extra 3-500kcals per day when breastfeeding. The best thing is to ensure your meals are all balanced and then to eat according to appetite. I find I’m often hungriest last thing at night and at the night feeds.

All that feeding and expressing seems to be doing the trick as I’ve definitely lost weight this week and I’m back in my “slightly large, extra comfy” jeans – you know the type I mean. I’ve done a couple of very basic pilates exercises on occasions including single knee folds, pelvic tilts and standing heel floats. Don’t rush to get back into exercise at this point, just settle into getting to know your baby but do think about your posture when feeding and carrying baby. Stand/Sit tall, imagine you are lifted by the crown of your head towards the ceiling, slide your shoulder blades down in your back, have your weight balanced evenly over both feet and try to keep your lower back in a neutral position.

Bump to Birth Pilates: Day 14 post-birth
Bump to Birth Pilates: Day 14 post-birth

Top Tips:

  • Make sure you eat extra to enable your body to provide enough milk and good quality milk needed for baby.
  • Keep a snack box handy filled with healthy items you can munch on as you feed. For example healthy flapjack, nuts, raw veggies and hummous, oatcakes and peanut butter, dried fruit and cereal bars all feature in mine.
  • Keep going with your pelvic floor exercises, try to do these each time you feed baby.
  • If you can build in a couple of short, gentle walks.
  • Remember your posture.
  • Look out now for post-natal exercise classes and pilates classes.

Losing the Baby Weight, Week 1.

It’s day 7 post birth and slowly my body feels like it is returning to normal. My mummy tummy is shrinking gradually and the after birth pains are definitely diminishing. For me these after birth pains have been the worst thing. I didn’t have them with baby number 1, but everytime I feed it feels like another contractions. This is due to my uterus contracting and everything shrinking back to normal so it’s a good thing, but I’m not enjoying it!

Bump to Birth Pilates: Day 2 Post-Birth
Bump to Birth Pilates: Day 2 Post-Birth

Having a toddler means little time to rest so I’m quite active around the house. I’ve already learnt that I can’t lift my toddler, it’s too much for my back and lifting her led to some twinges (yikes) so I’m steering clear of heavy lifting for a while.

So what exercises have I been doing?

Pelvic floor exercises or kegels. I’ve been trying to do these everytime I feed the baby. If you aren’t sure where these are they are the muscles that now don’t work very well  😉 Imagine you are doing a wee and try to stop the flow of urine, it’s those muscles. Try doing some fast contractions where you squeeze the muscles all the way up and then release – imagine a lift going up inside you. Then also do some slow contractions where you slowly take the lift up, hold at the top for 5 seconds and slowly release. You really want to strengthen these muscle as otherwise there will be problems when you cough, laugh, sneeze, jump…. you get the picture!

TVA or core activation. Think about drawing in the muscles below your belly button. There is a belt-like muscle that comes all the way around your body like a corset. Try not to scoop in all your tummy but just tighten up the lower tummy muscles. It may help to place your fingers just inside your hip bones, then cough. Did you feel something tighten? That’s the muscle.

Rest time is also essential though personally this is the bit I find hardest to fit in as I seem to have babies that require a lot of feeding! Try to rest when the baby is napping and remember you don’t have to be superwoman at this point in life. If you have a slightly “messy round the edges house” no-one will mind 😉 Plus if you do too much you can affect your milk supply, so be kind to yourself.

Why is Pilates so beneficial for new mums?

Pilates is still quite a new form of exercise in the UK.  Just to give you some background, Joseph Pilates, a German-born gymnast, circus-performer, boxer and anatomical-chart model, developed his training method during the 1920s, so it’s been around for quite a while.  He named his method “Contrology”, initially to rehabilitate soldiers during the war.  Later, it became popular in the ballet circuit, then went mainstream, where now it’s suitable for just about everyone.

You’ll hear Pilates Instructors mention your “core” muscles quite a lot during class.  The “core” is made up of several muscles which wrap around your spine – a bit like a cylinder.  There are muscles at the front of your body (transverses abdominus/hip flexors), side (obliques), back (multifidis), top (diaphragm) and base (pelvic floor).

To find your core muscles, you just need to tighten/pull/draw your abdominal muscles in slightly.  Start by breathing into your belly first, then as you breath out, drawing your tummy muscles in towards your spine and keeping that light tension switched on.  These muscles are slow to contract and slow to fatigue, so it means you should be able to hold your tummy muscles inwards with a low level of contraction, for a minute or two, then simply move an arm or a leg, or the spine, to create an unstable environment and therefore provide a challenge for the muscles.  Pilates is quite simple in design.

Pilates is particularly beneficial for postnatal women, because, put simply, it targets the very muscles which get weakened by pregnancy itself eg the pelvic floor and core.  It also helps you breathe better, puts your body in an optimal postural position and relieves tension in your neck, shoulders, hips and lower back from constant lifting, carrying, feeding and changing your baby.