Your Postnatal Check Up
If I could advise one thing (with my women’s health physiotherapist hat on) to anyone who has just had a baby it would be to go for a proper postnatal check up. This involves:
1. Discussion about your pregnancy/delivery/recovery.
2. Assessment of Pelvic Floor Muscles if required with consent and after full discussion.
3. Assessment of abdominal muscles recovery and treatment of Diastasis Recti Abdominis ( DRA) if present.
4. Assessment of breathing patterns. ( For a women’s health physiotherapist this gives an indication of how the pelvic floor is working as the Diaphragm and the pelvic floor work together in the same direction)
5.Assessment of posture
Why invest in a postnatal check up?
Many postnatal women join post-natal classes, including my own, where the aim is to build up the core to prepare for the higher intensity of other exercises or just to build up to pre-pregnancy strength. Others return to higher intensity exercises as they feel stronger. The core is made up of the Diaphragm, The Pelvic Floor, Your deep Stomach muscles and your deep lower back muscles.
It is easy to see how most muscles are performing through any exercise program. When we see the tummy moving during breathing we are sure that the diaphragm is moving. As your tummy and lower back get stronger you will notice that you can do more, have less aches and become more toned. However, we cannot see how well the pelvic floor is performing during exercise. Our pelvic floor seems to have an ability to ” get away with things” for a long time before it presents us with symptoms such as leakage during exercises or pressure at the end of the day or after exercise.
An example way to know that you benefit from a post-natal assessment is if you cannot feel a definite difference between the squeeze and release parts of the your pelvic floor exercises.
For motivation, knowing how your pelvic floor muscles are performing can either provide reassurance that you are safely recovering or can provide fact-based information to encourage you to stick to your pelvic floor strengthening exercises and lower intensity exercises for now.
It is so important that you make informed decisions about returning to exercise, particularly high intensity exercises. I know I am biased as I will see only issues! However we are all individuals, have different genetics, have different types of pregnancies, deliveries, recoveries and we have different hobbies. I believe that we all deserve to get to our own best level and that we should not cut corners to get there.
I hope that this had been useful information. Please feel free to give me feedback or ask any questions!