SHEREE DIBIASE, PT: Pelvic health: Body balance after baby

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A new baby, there is nothing better! Snuggling them, loving them and nurturing them becomes your new life. Suddenly the aches and pains of pregnancy and delivery are forgotten. But don't kid yourself this is no little feat that your body just went through to make this precious new addition. Your body goes through an amazing transformation to make your baby and if you are nursing them, you will still have hormones in your body after the birth of the baby. No wonder your body seems a little bit different or odd in its behavior. No wonder you have stiff shoulders, a cranky back or hips that pop around when you move. Maybe your bladder is a little leaky with laughing, sneezing or coughing. Maybe you have pain with intercourse or are completely disinterested in sex at all. Maybe you are constantly constipated after baby and you are wondering why because you never were before. Well we know what it's like and you are not alone.

The pelvic floor is an intricate set of muscles. There are layers of them and they perform unique work as the bottom of the abdominal container. They hold the bladder, fertility organs and the bowels, and they need to remember how to work again after having a baby, because these muscles are often overstretched and over worked during pregnancy. It takes time for these muscles to heal along with the abdominal muscles. These muscles work together with the diaphragm and you can start training them with deep breathing techniques. Take a deep breath to the count of four. Feel the lower lungs fill with air and push the ribs out to the sides. Upon inhalation the floor moves downward. Then upon exhalation count to four and feel the floor muscles contract and draw upwards toward your nose. You can feel these pelvic floor muscles externally by placing your hand besides your sitter bones medially. As you draw the floor upwards think about lifting all the organs inside the bowl-like muscle container. The floor is not flat. The pelvic floor has front and back muscles which have an apex in the middle. Imagine this apex moving upward as if a string is pulling the floor toward your diaphragm as you contract the floor. This incorporates all the floor muscles to work together, different than the kegel exercise, which concentrates on merely one level of the floor muscles.

The first four to six weeks after having a baby are meant to be a time of bonding, adjusting to your new life and allowing your body to heal. Don't be hard on yourself and the way you look. Gentle re-training of the floor, abdominal muscles and core can begin once your body has healed and your body will restructure itself with time.

After your six week check-up with your MD you should schedule your visit with your physical therapist and they will begin training your pelvic floor and core again for daily activities and return to your active lifestyle. If you have a leaky bladder or bowels that are not working well they can help you re-train them. If you have pain with intercourse you may have muscles that are not working properly and need to re-establish good patterns of floor movement. If you have never been active, don't worry they will teach you how to develop a new healthy lifestyle with baby. We look forward to seeing you, your health is your greatest asset.

• • •

Sheree DiBiase, PT, is the owner of Lake City Physical Therapy and she and her incredible staff would love to help you after baby. They are Women's Health specialists with offices in Coeur d'Alene, Hayden and the Spokane Valley. Sheree was an Adjunct Professor at Loma Linda University in the School of Physical Therapy for seven years and the Owner of the International Education Institute, a continuing education company. She is a wife and a mother of three sons. Contact us at 208-667-1988 to schedule an appointment for any of our offices. We want you to live well after baby, www.lakecitypt.com.

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