There is so much to think about in those first few weeks of motherhood that it is very likely you won’t be giving much thought to looking after your body!
However, it is important to understand that your body needs time to heal following pregnancy and childbirth and this healing process can take up to 2 years in total! Be kind to yourself and your body and allow it the time it needs.
Following pregnancy and childbirth our core is very weak and we may have separation of the abdominal muscles (Diastasis Recti). It is important that we do what we can to protect our core while it is healing to ensure that the separation doesn’t get any worse.
If you don’t know anything about Diastasis Recti you may like to take a look at my other blog ‘Diastasis Recti – What you need to know’
The purpose of this Blog is to share some tips with you that will go a long way in helping to protect a healing core whilst you go about your daily activities of being a mum which is, by the way, a physically demanding job!
Tip 1 – POSTURE
Think about your posture. This photo shows a typical post natal posture with rounding of the shoulders and hips tilting forwards. Think about standing tall shoulders back and down. When feeding baby, bring baby to boob, not boob to baby. Use some cushions to support your baby and lift her up higher.
Tip 2 – LIFTING
Avoid excessive and unnecessary lifting, however, being a mum it is impossible not to lift, (car seats prams to name a few) so when you do lift make sure you ‘Exhale on exertion’. In other words breathe out when you lift.
Tip 3 – LYING DOWN
I’m not saying have a lie down, although resting is important. The tip I want to share is how to lie down and get up without putting unnecessary pressure on your core.
When getting up from a lying position, role onto your side first and then use your arms to push yourself up. The same applies to lying down, go onto your side first, slowly lower down onto your elbows and then your side and then roll onto your back. Don’t forget ‘Exhale on Exertion’ which would be at the point you push yourself up from lying to seated position and then from seated to standing.
Tip 4 – BREATHING
Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing daily. When we are pregnant, our breathing changes and quite often our Diaphragm (our breathing muscle) doesn’t work as well as it should.
How to Breathe using your Diaphragm
Lie on your back and breathe, you may notice that your tummy expands or your chest rises? (it can be useful to place a shoe on the chest and tummy to see which one moves). If this is the case, you need to practice breathing into your rib cage. To do this, lie on your back and place your hands on the sides of your ribs, you need to breathe into the sides of your ribs, you should feel your ribs pushing against your hands. If you still have the shoes in place, the shoe on your chest shouldn’t really move and the one on your tummy should go down slightly as you breath out.
This is quite tricky to master but keep practising and you will get there!
Tip 5 – NUTRITION
As well as protecting a healing core when we move, we can also help it to heal by eating the right type of food. After we’ve had our baby, we focus on shifting a few pounds, however, we should be focusing on eating nutrient dense foods that provide the body with what it needs to heal.
If you would like to read more about the importance of nutrition during the post natal period, please read my other blog ‘Desperate to lose the baby weight, you need to read this first’
Tip 6 – EXERCISING
If you are keen to return to exercise then start with walking and pelvic floor exercises in those early few weeks. You need to build up slowly and be patient. Pushing yourself to hard may set you back from actual recovery. Exercise does play a key role in healing our post natal core, however, it needs to be the right type of exercise at the right time. You may like to read the other posts listed below that provide lots more information on returning to exercise following child birth.
FINAL THOUGHTS: If all the above just seems a little much to get your head round at the moment, then please just do one thing ‘EXHALE ON EXERTION‘. Breathe out when you lift, when you stand up from sitting, when you get up from lying down. The more you do this, the more it becomes second nature and you will do it without thinking!