Big thanks to our great friends and clinic supporters Kerry Cox & Jayne Hume at Bumps2babies for a brilliant guest blog. Best of luck with the new Edgbaston & Harborne classes.
Us mums are amazing at caring for our families, but notoriously bad at looking after ourselves. We'd never dream of letting them do something that could potentially damage them or slow any healing processes, yet we overlook the massive physiological changes that our bodies go through giving birth and we race to the 6-week post birth point raring to "get back to it.”
- our abdominal muscles separated to make room for that growing baby and whilst our bodies tries to heal themselves post birth, this gap is unlikely to heal any further past the 8 week point without further intervention? (1)
- 66% of women with abdominal muscle separation also suffer from some kind of pelvic floor / continence / prolapse dysfunction (2) and many of us commonly report lower back pain and unsightly bulging stomachs?
- our breathing changed during pregnancy as the baby grew and compressed our organs? The diaphragm is a key part of our 'core' and the sub-optimal breathing pattern that most of us continue to use post pregnancy contributes to our mummy tummies and negatively affects the functionality of our cores.
- standard gym exercises like crunches increase pressure in our already weakened cores and end up having the opposite effect to that intended?
- those mummy tummy muscles are made mostly of collagen, so hydration and nutrition play a huge role in their healing?
- having a c-section doesn't mean that our pelvic floors are in perfect working order? They experienced the strain of that growing baby for 9 months.
- whilst leaking post birth is common, it's not "normal" and shouldn't be tolerated?
- wounds (like birthing tears, c-section cuts, etc.) take at least one year (and up to two) to truly heal and for the muscle fibres to return to their original function and strength?
The magic 6-week point is very much the beginning, therefore, and not the end. Particularly as those “6-week checks” (to the extent that they take place) don’t tend to cover theses crucial points.
Whilst these problems remain serious for a minority of women, for most of us there's a huge amount that can be done to overcome them and achieve our goals - even several years after giving birth. Simple things we overlook like breathing, posture and nutrition can make huge improvements to the functionality and aesthetics of our core muscles, which are central to all movement. And coupled with appropriate exercise, it is generally possible to regain the tension and integrity of these muscles. So demand more from the professionals around you...make sure that they’re talking to you about these things, that you engage in safe, appropriate exercises for your body and that you enlist the help of a good Post Natal & women's health physiotherapist like those at Barefoot Yoga , Harborne to diagnose and deal with any issues…or just to get yourself a “mummy MOT with Fiona or Sundeep .
Kerry Cox, FromBumps2Babies* lead for Edgbaston & Harborne, March 2017 Check out the new classes being run by clicking on the link below.
(* FromBumps2Babies is the Midlands premium provider of pre and post natal classes and services. Run by midwives and fitness specialists, they've recently expanded to bring their safe, goal oriented, fun and affordable classes to Edgbaston & Harborne.)
(1) Coldren Y, Stokes M J, Newham DJ et al (2008). Postpartum characteristics of rectus abdominis on ultrasound imaging. Manual Therapy 13: 112.
(2) Spitznagle, T M, Leong F C & van Dillen L R (2007). Prevalence of diastasis recti andominis in a urogynaecological patient population, Internationak Urogynaecology Journal and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, 18(3), 321-328