Mind the Gap, lift the floor and stop pain

After many years of experience of seeing ladies within healthcare. The Mummy MOT feels that this is such an important time for mum and that there should be a great focus on advice and education to empower ladies so that they can make the best choices for their health and that of their family.

  • Around 25% of ladies experience pain throughout pregnancy, and they feel they have to put up with it
  • 17% of young ladies may suffer urine leak and will recall being given a leaflet about Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises, doing them for a short while after delivery and then stopping
  • 39% of ladies still have a tummy gap at 6 months post-natal. Many ladies will watch their tummies make a funny pointy shape when lifting their babies and caring for their toddlers without a thought to how their bodies are recovering from 9 months of pregnancy and possibly traumatic or prolonged labour.

During pregnancy, there are changes to your skeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal and endocrine system, which mean your body faces new challenges. Whether you are slim or stocky build, young or mature, this does not make a difference to how you cope in pregnancy and beyond. What is more important is getting the right advice and therapy straight away. Simple exercises and modifications to your daily routines can make a huge difference but also massage, manual therapy and acupuncture can have a great effect.

The Floor
The pelvic floor muscles are a ‘hammock’ of muscles underneath your pelvis. They attach at the front of the pelvis to the pubic bone and span backward and sideways to attach at the base of the spine and the borders of the pelvis. There are three main layers. The openings of the bladder, vagina and bowel all pass through this layer of muscle.

Stop the drop and keep it closed
The pelvic floor muscles are continually working to help support your pelvic organs and abdominal content from underneath and stop them dropping down. They help with bladder and bowel control, circling around the opening for the urethra, vagina and back passage and stop a leak of urine, wind or poo. The muscles need to work harder when you cough, sneeze or exercise to avoid leaking. They will be under extra stress during pregnancy due to the extra load. In addition, during pregnancy, our muscles and ligaments become more relaxed to all for the baby to grow and have space to come out. During childbirth, the pelvic floor needs to lengthen and relax but it is common for it to suffer some soft trauma. Bearing this in mind, it is really important to prepare your pelvic floor for delivery and then exercise it afterward. Also like other muscles in the body, ‘if you don’t use them, you lose them’. The pelvic floor can weaken and lose efficiency over time, especially with menopause, chronic constipation, regular lifting with poor technique and with other specific medical conditions.

Mind the gap
Diastasis Rectus Abdominus (tummy gap) is where two right and left sides of your ‘six pack’ muscles spreads apart at the body’s midline. This can occur at any time in the last half of pregnancy but it is most problematic after pregnancy when the tummy is weak.

This can take longer to improve and may worsen and cause future problems with incontinence, prolapse or back pain if you have poor posture or go back to your usual activities or exercise before you are strong enough.

Top Tips

  • Modify your activities while pregnant and maintain strong core and good posture with the advice of a physio
  • Always tighten your pelvic floor before lifting, coughing or sneezing
  • To relieve the load on your pelvic floor, aim towards and acceptable weight for your height and your build
  • Try to avoid constipation by eating sufficient dietary fibre and ensuring adequate fluid intake
  • Good nutrition will support your tummy and pelvic floor to heal
  • Graduated and safe return to exercise is imperative
  • Avoid activities that may over stress your tummy or pelvic floor until it is back to full strength

So without getting too graphic, you need to get to know your core and exercise it daily FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE otherwise, you are susceptible to pain, leakage or prolapse.

By addressing the factors mentioned and following a program before commencing pregnancy, tummy gap is reduced to a minimum, therefore increasing your recovery and helping you to get rid of your baby tummy quickly post birth. Post-natal should have your tummy and pelvic floor checked by a qualified professional. Your GP or midwife can do a basic check, or you could opt for a whole MOT with a specialist.

This article was kindly provided by The Mummy MOT who can individually set a program to promote recovery in optimal time. They have specialist clinics in Colchester, Manningtree and Chelmsford but are also happy to travel to your home.

Whether you want to prevent tummy gap or would like to recover post-natal they can gear a treatment to your needs.

Visit their website at: www.physiotherapyandpilates.com. Don’t forget to mention that Magical Baby Moments referred you! (Caring is sharing).

About Magical Baby Moments
Magical Baby Moments offers group hypnobirthing courses in Romford and Upminster, and private courses across Essex and London. Check online at http://www.magicalbabymoments.com/classes to find out upcoming dates.

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