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Pregnancy and childbirth are challenging for a woman’s body. Labor and delivery may have affected the woman’s body in ways she was not expecting. Oftentimes, a new mother may experience back and pelvic pain, core weakness, separated abdominals, or urinary incontinence for the first time in her life; sometimes she may not experience these symptoms until several months after delivery. Many women falsely believe these dysfunctions are normal after pregnancy and childbirth or may not know where to turn for post-partum rehabilitation.
The weeks and months following childbirth are important for a mother’s recovery and set the stage for her continued well-being. This period of time may also be referred to as the fourth trimester – the first three months of a baby’s life when the newborn is adjusting to life outside the womb and the mother is adjusting to her post-partum body.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends beginning ongoing follow-up visits with a pelvic health specialist six weeks after giving birth. One of the cornerstones of a post-partum exercise program is core strengthening exercises to assist in the closure of separated abdominals and to improve lower back and pelvic pain. These exercises, coupled with pelvic floor muscle contractions (Kegel exercises), work together to strengthen and rehabilitate the core muscles weakened after pregnancy and delivery.
Here are three exercises core strengthening exercises:
Exercise 1 – Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet hip-width apart. Place your fingers on your stomach inside of your hip bones. Gently contract your pelvic floor muscles up and in (Kegel). At the same time, gently tighten your lower abdominals by performing an abdominal brace, being careful not to arch or flatten your back. Hold for 10 seconds, release, and repeat 10 times.
Exercise 2 – Lie as you did in exercise 1. Gently contract your pelvic floor muscles up and in (Kegel). At the same time, gently tighten your lower abdominals by performing an abdominal brace. While holding the brace, gently drop one knee out to the side and back, without twisting your pelvis. Allow knee to drop only as far as you can hold the brace. Repeat on other side, then repeat 10 times.
Exercise 3 – Lie as you did in exercise 1. Gently contract your pelvic floor muscles up and in (Kegel). At the same time, gently tighten your lower abdominals by performing an abdominal brace. While holding the brace, slowly slide one heel out and in along the surface. Repeat on the other side, then repeat 10 times.
The pelvic health experts at Sheltering Arms have specialized knowledge to support mothers on their new journey through pregnancy recovery. Your first session will include a complete orthopedic evaluation. You will receive one-on-one instruction in each session to address your individual needs. Additionally, your therapist will create an individualized exercise program and provide you with detailed patient education. To learn more about our pregnancy recovery program or to schedule an appointment, visit www.shelteringarms.com/pregnancy-recovery.