Congratulations on your new baby! It’s amazing how powerful women’s bodies are to be able to grow this little human inside of you, get them out, and then somehow still continue to function like a regular human being.
Sometimes though, our bodies just need a little more guidance with recovering. Did you know that in France, all women receive free pelvic floor physiotherapy? They believe every woman could benefit from some postpartum guidance, especially if you’ve been monitoring core and pelvic health after birth and notice your symptoms aren’t getting better.
Last week, we shared two tips for a healthier pelvic floor. Continue reading for our last 3 tips for a healthier pelvic floor:
Tip #3: Pelvic Floor Strengthening Exercises (“kegels”)
Kegels are used for symptoms like leaking urine or pelvic organ prolapse. Doing these exercises consistently for 3-4 months will help you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and reduce symptoms, or avoid them in the future.
If you have symptoms, try doing 3 sets of 10 daily, working up to 10 second holds for each rep. If you don’t have any symptoms, do this every second day.
Check out this website out for more details on how to do a kegel.
Tip #4: Return To Exercise Gradually (and Watch Your Breathing!)
When returning to exercise after having a baby, it’s important to start easy and build up gradually, whether you have pelvic floor symptoms or not (e.g. downward pressure, bulging, leakage).
If you do notice pelvic floor symptoms while exercising, decrease the intensity (e.g. decrease weight or speed) and/or volume (e.g. reduce the amount of time if the leaking only starts after a certain amount of time) to allow your body time to adjust. Gradually increase the intensity and/or volume, making sure you stay asymptomatic as you progress.
Focus on Breathing: Breathe out on impact (e.g. when you land on a jump, as your feet hit the ground) and as you’re lifting (e.g. as you’re squatting up, as you lift up your baby). This allows pressure to escape from above, through your mouth, rather than below, through your pelvic floor. Pressure leaking out through the pelvic floor may manifest itself as urinary/fecal leakage or downward bulging.
Tip #5: Manage Vaginal Dryness
You may notice that things “down there” feel dryer – this is a common complaint during the postpartum period, especially if women are breastfeeding, as breastfeeding can suppress estrogen levels, which help keep our vaginas moisturized.
Dryness can make sex uncomfortable, and decreased estrogen can also cause a decrease in libido, and that’s ok! If you are interested in sex, though, lubricant will be your best friend! Experiment with different ones – just because one brand doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean another won’t. Water-based lubricants, such as Sliquid and Slippery Stuff, are fairly common (and provide the easiest clean up!)
Other Vaginal Care Tips:
Vaginas are self-cleaning ovens. This means you don’t need soap or other scented products - this can cause excess dryness. Wash gently with warm water and pat dry
Wear breathable, loose fitting underwear to prevent further irritation to an area that’s already dry.
Bonus tip: This is easier said than done, but remember to be kind to yourself!
The above information is provided as general information and not specific medical advice for you. If you have specific concerns about your pelvic health and would like more guidance, contact your pelvic health physiotherapist for an assessment today.