Postnatal care

There cannot be a more rewarding experience than childbirth, when you hold your baby in your arms after months of anticipation. Childbirth is an exciting time in your life but it can have a significant and profound effect on your body. Women's Physiotherapy at Columbia Asia Hospital provides advice and recommends the following exercises to help with your recovery after pregnancy and birth. The antenatal period and the strain of labour would have taken a toll on your body. Most of the changes return to normalcy naturally in due course.

The uterus contracts and returns to near normal size in about 6 weeks and the ligaments in the pelvis return to normal in about 3- 6 months. However, the muscles of the abdomen and pelvis need to be toned up and you need to lose the fat that you have gained. It is important to prevent lower back ache which is common after delivery. Regaining your fitness is important to be able to maintain a healthy life. If you have had a CAESARIAN SECTION. Just remember to start gently and progress slowly. Get the clearance of your obstetrician before you start.

Post natal exercises can be started within 24 hours of childbirth or when your obstetrician gives you clearance. These exercises should be gradually increased, otherwise it will cause pain or strain. Here’s wishing you a great exercise regimen that will make you a happy and healthy mother. 

Pelvic Floor Exercises

Gluteal setting: Lie on your back with arms at the side, palms up and legs out straight crossed at the ankles. Squeeze buttocks together, tightening large muscles of the seat and muscles of the pelvic floor. At the same time squeeze thighs firmly together. Hold for five counts and relax. This exercise is effective if begun immediately following delivery.

Pelvic bridging: Lying on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, contract your abdominal, buttock, and pelvic floor muscles, and raise hips up off the floor. Hold for 5 seconds and relax down slowly. The farther your feet are from your buttocks the more challenging it will be. Bridging can also be progressed by lifting one leg while up in bridge position - but you must be able to keep hips level to do this.

KEGEL (KAY-gul) EXERCISE for pelvic floor strengthening: The most important of all!

Purpose:

By strengthening the muscles around the vagina, anus and urethra, the Kegel exercise will increase your ability to control and relax these muscles completely. It will check urinary incontinence

How to do the Kegel exercise

  • Lie on the back with knees slightly bent and legs slightly apart 
  • Squeeze and draw up the muscles around the anus, vagina and urethra as strongly as possible 
  • Try to hold this squeeze and lift for 2-3 seconds then relax completely. Repeat 3-5 times Gradually work up to  20 to 30 each time 
  • Do this at least 6 times a day 
  • Practice while you sit, stand, walk, drive or watch TV. 

KNEE PRESS Purpose

The knee press will strengthen your inner thighs, stretch your lower back, and improve your circulation.

How To Do The Knee Press

  • Sit on the floor. 
  • Now pull your feet together with soles touching. 
  • Bring your feet as near to your body as you can with comfort. 
  • Keep your back straight. 
  • Press your knees slowly and gently to the floor. 
  • Hold your knees to the floor and count to three. 

When To Practice

  • As often as possible during the day, sit cross-legged on the floor with your back arched and relaxed. 
  • You could do this as a break during TV commercials. 
  • Work up to doing 10 times each day 

Optimal Pregnancy Outcome Program

ABDOMINAL EXERCISES Purpose

Stretching of the abdominal muscles during pregnancy will reduce their efficiency in maintaining good posture and back support. It is therefore essential to exercise these muscles regularly, after delivery to regain pre-pregnancy tone and shape.

Leg Raise

  • Lie on your back with feet flat on the floor. 
  • Bring one knee up to your chest as close as you can. 
  • Raise your leg in the air. 
  • Bend your knee and return your foot to the floor. 
  • Do the same exercise with your other leg. 

Knee Reach

  • Lie on your back with feet flat on the floor. 
  • Lift your head and at the same time move one knee towards your nose. 
  • Do the same thing with your other leg.

When to practice

Repeat both exercises 10 times each day.

ISOMETRIC ABDOMINAL EXERCISES

Tummy tucks: Tuck your tummy in while walking (or doing any work which stresses your back); it will give support and strength to your back and abdomen. Tummy in and out... (Don’t hold the breath while doing it).

THE PELVIC ROCK

Purpose

The pelvic rock will strengthen your abdominal muscles, relieve backaches and improve your circulation.

How to do the pelvic rock

This exercise is done in three different positions. Each time you do the exercise, tighten your abdominal muscles and tuck your buttocks under so that the small of your back is pushed back as far as possible.

Position One

  • Get on your hands and knees with arms straight. 
  • Tighten your tummy muscles and tuck your hips under. Your back will hunch a little. 
  • Relax. 
  • Do this slowly and evenly.

Position Two

  • Lie on your back with feet flat on the floor. 
  • Lift your head and at the same time move one knee towards your nose. 
  • Do the same thing with your other leg.

Position Three

  • Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor. 
  • Tighten your lower tummy muscles and your buttocks to press the small of your back on to the floor. 
  • Relax. 
  • Repeat slowly and evenly. 

ADDUCTOR LENGTHENING

Position:

Sit on floor with legs straight and slightly apart. Roll knees outward.

Exercise:

Slowly lean body forward towards the floor with arms stretched out in front of you. Your knees may bend slightly. Do not jerk or bounce. Hold forward for 3 to 5 seconds. 

These exercises help to:

  • improve your circulation 
  • strengthen your pelvic floor muscles 
  • prevent backache 
  • strengthen your tummy muscles

 

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