New motherhood is a mixture of excitement and sleep deprivation, of joy and exhaustion. It’s all too easy to overlook your need to restore optimal strength and functional joint stability to meet the physical and emotional needs of being a mother.

Postpartum is an important time to protect, heal and re-strengthen the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles, as these muscles are central to restoring abdominal and trunk muscle length and synergistic function.

Seek treatment for any

  • Urine loss, urgency or loss of bladder sensation.
  • Poor wind or stool control or bowel urgency.
  • Constipation, hemorrhoids or pain in emptying.
  • Pain in pelvic joints, groin, abdomen or back.
  • Infection in scars or tears.
  • Vaginal heaviness, bulging or ‘falling out’ sensation.
  • Excessive bleeding and blood clots.
  • Sexual pain or painful scars.
  • Diastasis rectus (abdominal muscle separation).

Posture, posture, posture – tall sitting, standing and walking is the best way to switch on low level endurance in the pelvic floor and core and help abdominal muscles shorten back to their previous firmness.

Start gentle pelvic floor exercises 24 hours after an uncomplicated vaginal delivery as the muscular contractions help to squeeze excess fluid from the muscles and shorten the muscles back to their former position.

Lie on your back with both knees bent to start and then try the exercises sitting up or kneeling head down and bottom up.

Breathe out and slowly lift the urethra, vagina and anus. Hold for 5 seconds, relax for 5 to 10 seconds before repeating 5 more times. Over the next weeks and months, repeat 10 times, 3 times a day and lift (from underneath) more strongly. Review the 3 different PFM exercises in Hold It Sister or Hold It Mama.

Use ice packs over any perineal swelling or stitches for 5 to 10 minutes, every 2 to 3 hours for 48 hours.

Rest regularly – lying down to feed baby is a good time to rest and take the load off your pelvic floor.

Keep stools soft with stool softeners, soluable fiber in fruit, vegetables and whole grains) and regularly drink water (especially when breastfeeding). Straining to empty the bowel is likely to damage pelvic floor muscles and vaginal supports. Wrap toilet paper around your hand and give support over the vaginal area as the bowel opens (to prevent vaginal strain).

Wear a support garment to compress the abdomen and internal organs, improve posture and protect your pelvic joints from strain.

Forget about heavy lifting, housework and shopping for 6 weeks to give your muscles and vaginal supports time to heal and strengthen.

Check out the Shrink the jellybelly exercise programme in Hold It Mama To regain pelvic floor, core and abdominal muscle strength and shape.