5 ways to improve your pelvic health after childbirth
1. Know that you are not alone! Many women including myself have or had issues with pelvic imbalances after having a baby, (or even if they have never been pregnant). Seek an appointment with a health care provider you trust and have an evaluation. After you know more information, you can make the next step. Most women will benefit tremendously from an evaluation by a Physical Therapist trained in pelvic floor work, or from several sessions of the practice, Holistic Pelvic Care, which I do offer. I am happy to help you find resources in your community for PT’s or Holistic Pelvic Care Providers.
2. Just doing kegels is not enough! I did a separate blog post on kegels, last week. These are a set of exercises developed by a gynecologist name Dr. Arnold Kegel, which serve to improve the function of the pelvic floor muscles. The problem is, that in addition to muscle weakness, there are many other types of pelvic imbalances including excessive tightness and tension. If Kegels are recommended, the exercises can contribute to even more tension and possibly make the imbalance worse. In most cases, before we learn to “kegel it”, we should learn how to “relax it”. We’ll go into how to start doing that in the next bullet point.
3. Squat! You thought you were done with squatting since you’ve had your baby? Well—all that birth preparation you did (or didn’t do) still applies after you’ve given birth. Here is a simple exercise to open the pelvic floor and release tension as well as relax the pelvic floor.
A) Hold onto a sturdy chair or nearby object that can support your weight so you can relax into the posture.
B) Come into a squat position. If you heels do not touch the floor (that’s OK!), use a pillow or other soft support underneath them to further help with relaxation. We want to eliminate strain here!
C) Take a long, slow inhale and visualize this breath going to your pelvic floor muscles (I visualize them as a bowl or nest) for a total of 5 seconds.
D) Exhale an even longer out-breath and see if you can still maintain the relaxation of your pelvic floor. You may notice a slight change, that’s fine. It is very subtle to start.
E) Try repeating this about 10 times while remaining in the squat position.
F) Your endurance and ability to relax these pelvic muscles will increase with time. Try this daily!
Exercise adapted from the book Ending Female Pain by Isa Herrera.
4. Bear with me on this one now….I would love for you to try laying in a comfy spot on the ground and stretch your legs up the wall! Doesn’t that sound good? I think so!
This is called Viparita Karani or (Legs-up-the-Wall Pose).
Still at the wall, place a folded blanket or flat pillow bolster under your buttocks and let your upper back and shoulders drape onto the floor. Go ahead and scoot back from the wall if bending your knees makes it feel less of a strain. . If your legs roll outward, consider using a yoga strap, belt or long scarf just above your knees to keep them stable and aligned. Attempt to let all strain and tension release from your body and let your belly soften and your pelvic floor release. Simply enjoy the sensations and gradually lengthen your exhale to be twice as long as your inhale. Not only does this help relax your pelvic muscle tension, it can help your uterus find a more centered alignment.
5. I encourage you to practice the squatting and Legs-up-the-Wall Pose regularly. Try to make it part of your daily routine. Perhaps you are bending down to attend to your baby in a bouncy chair-practice your squat/release. If you just did a diaper change and baby is still lying on a blanket on the floor. Scoot over and practice Leg-up-the Wall Pose. I am a mama to 2 kids, and I know the realities of self-care amidst our busy lives! My hope is to share information with more and more women as I feel this topic is so near and dear to my heart. You are not alone! And, yes, it does matter and is important even though our culture doesn’t seem to talk about it.
Many blessings on your self-healing!