Your postpartum body looks and feels very different to how it did before you had your baby. But what is “normal”? What will go away or improve by itself? And when should you speak your GP or seek further help?
Questions about your postpartum body
“Is my stomach supposed to look like this?”
“Should it feel like this when I wee?”
“Will it always feel like this?”
As we all know, childbirth does not always go to plan! Whether this was your first baby or your fifth, you will know that no birth is the same and you need to give your post-baby body time to heal. Give your newly post-baby body plenty of time, rest and love, and you will soon start to feel strong again.
But, this is not always the case. Many women in the UK are living with issues that they really shouldn’t have to. Issues that can be helped. Incontinence and postnatal body issues cause pain, discomfort, anxiety, depression and affect our everyday life. Know that you deserve the dignity, comfort and pleasure of a body that feels good and that works for you.
Your postpartum body – 0-8 weeks
Let’s talk about some totally normal symptoms and feelings that you are likely to experience 0-8 weeks after you have had your baby.
When you go to the bathroom you may feel like our insides are going to fall out (they won’t. But it does feel like it). You might not be able to fully control your urine, stools, or gas. You might accidentally leak or pass wind. Getting comfortable is a struggle and you need to shift about a lot when sitting or standing. You are sore. All over. Perhaps your pubic area, your hips, your neck, maybe your C section scar.
What can you do to heal 0-8 weeks postpartum
❤️ Stretch and release. Simple stretches should help improve your circulation and release the tension from your muscles.
❤️ Try squatting (not too deep) while holding on to a heavy table leg or bannister for support. Think ‘bum back and down’ and keep your shins vertical so you really sit back into it. Make sure the thing you’re holding won’t move! Push through your heels and your mid-foot as you stand.
❤️ Do these gentle exercises to release your tight muscles and increase mobility and circulation.
❤️ Lie on your back on the floor with your legs in the air and shuffle your bottom right to a wall. Hang out there a while. Legs straight up the wall, back, shoulders and neck relaxed. Place a yoga block or cushion under your head and upper shoulders for comfort.
The most important practice of all: Reconnection
❤️ This is most important of all! Start to find and reconnect with your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles. We don’t want to ‘exercise’ them yet, we just want to find them again.
Sit comfortably or lie on a mat.
Inhale and let your stomach muscles and pelvic floor relax. Let it all go.
Next, exhale and lift your pelvic floor. To make this easier, imagine you are picking up a grape with your vagina or sucking up a smoothie through a straw. Then breathe in and relax those muscles being careful not to forcefully push down. Repeat for at least 5 breaths.
This is just a very super-short description of the MUTU Breath – the cornerstone of pelvic floor and core recovery and strengthening!
❤️ Use all the cushions! Make sure you are comfortable and supported when you feed and cuddle your baby.
❤️ Rest. If you go for a daily walk, do. But take it easy, then rest some more when you get home.
8+ weeks postpartum
Now you can gradually start to become more active – but remember nothing should be hurting.
You should have stopped bleeding by now, and you should have stopped hurting.
If not, you should go and speak to your GP.
You should have control over your bladder and bowel – some weakness and urgency are normal.
What is not normal for your postpartum body?
A number of symptoms are commonly referred to as normal when in fact they are common but totally treatable. The right corrective exercises can make a massive difference.
Pain in your back, pelvis, hips, or legs ❌
Leaking urine (or worse) when you sneeze, laugh, or cough ❌
Bulging or doming of your tummy when you do exercise ❌
Feeling like you are bearing down, like you can’t keep a tampon in, or like something is falling out between your legs ❌
If you have any of these postpartum symptoms, if you are in pain, or you are worried about the way you are feeling, please go to see your doctor or midwife straight away.
They may refer you to a women’s health physio who will be able to help you understand what you are dealing with and how to adapt exercises.
Then you can start to find and strengthen your core muscles.