GIVING BIRTH CREATES A SOFT TISSUE INJURY – TO THE PELVIC FLOOR
The pelvic floor needs the same love, care and attention in the first hours, days and weeks after delivery as any other injury would. As the first aider rushes to the side of the pitch with bags of ice, everyone knows there are proven first aid methods to encourage optimum healing and reduce complications. And pitch-side alone is not enough, be sure that a footballer has good instructions and support for the next few weeks to get back to normal walking again before progressive rehab to full on training. Bet everyone is really nice to him as he hops around on his crutches!
FIRST AID FOR SPORTS INJURIES – COPY AND REPEAT FOR PELVIC FLOOR
In sport there is a snappy acronym to help remember the routine RICE: Rest-Ice-Compression-Elevation. I have coined my own:
RESCUE REST – SOOTHE – ELEVATE – CUE
Keep this process in mind in the early days postnatally ’RESCue’ Rest-Soothe-Elevate-Cue to help you love and nurse your bottom back to health quickly:
R IS FOR REST
Rest. This means watching out for the way that if you are on your feet too long swelling and congestion will pool in the perineal area making you feel achy, sore and bizarrely irritable. It won’t be sore enough (unfortunately) to make you realise why you feel out of sorts and grumpy but you will find yourself fidgeting and wishing everyone would go home so that you can sit down and take the pressure off.
E Is FOR ELEVATION
Elevate If you can get your bottom higher than your heart the swelling will be drained back into your lymph system. Just 10 minutes with the weight off and elevation can make you feel like a new person.
Lie on your back on the sofa with a pillow under your bottom and your feet up on the arm rest while you have a baby (or toddler) cuddle or phone a friend.
S IS FOR SOOTHE
Soothe cold usually feels wonderful against hot, bruised tissues. The principle is that cooling the area increases blood flow (skin will go pink as the blood vessels dilate). The cold is soothing but the opening of the blood vessels is then best used to help drain the swelling with pulsing of the pelvic floor.
CUE – YOUR PELVIC FLOOR
Cue the pelvic floor. In the early days of healing don’t be frightened off by the idea of having to do hundreds of pelvic floor exercises every day. ‘Training’ your pelvic floor comes later (and I am a great believer in quality over quantity anyway). In these first few weeks the priority is to get the swelling down to make you feel comfortable and to cue the muscles to remind them what to do and how to work. Imagine a cut in your hand. After a few hours of being still and guarding the hand your fingers will close in and the palm become stiff with swelling. You would need to concentrate on gently flexing and opening the palm to ease the stiffness – the first few times it would be a bit sore and and you would be nervous but with a few repetitions it would start to feel better for the exercise. Exactly the same with your pelvic floor.
Download the free booklet “Fit for the Future” published by the Professional Network of Pelvic, Obstetric and Gynaecological Physiotherapists for clear instructions on pelvic floor exercises.
Let me know if you have success with this approach – and any other tips you might have to share with other new mums?