As I meet lots of new mums particularly through Buggyfit classes, I get asked lots of questions about getting your core strength back and looking after your pelvic floor. However, you don’t have to be a new mum to still have issues with the core not feeling strong and your pelvic floor not kicking back into action properly. Because of these issues I am going to share with you today 10 top tips to help your core and pelvic floor get back to full action.
Top tip no. 1
Check out your posture when sitting and standing. Your posture will have changed a lot during pregnancy and some muscles will have become weaker and some will have become tighter due to an adaptation of increased weight carried in front of the body. When you sit to feed your baby (Breast or bottle) make sure that you are comfortable and your lower back is well supported. In standing and walking stand tall as if you are being pulled up through the top of your head and try to keep up tall when pushing the buggy. Good posture will mean that your core muscles are in the optimum position for working effectively.
Top tip no 2
Avoid sitting bolt upright when in bed. Instead, roll over on to one side and drop your legs over the edge of the bed and push yourself up with the top arm. This is particularly important in very new mums as it takes the pressure off the abdominals completely and they will be less effective at doing their job of supporting your middle in the early stages. However, this is still a good move to do if you find it difficult to sit straight up in bed no matter how old your child is and difficulty with this movement is an indication that the core is not yet working effectively.
Top tip no 3
Drink plenty of water 1.5-2 litres a day. The body’s tissues are made up of a high content of water – 70%. Therefore if there is any degree of dehydration the tissue cells are unable to work properly and this will impede the healing process. Also, for tissues to work freely and for their fibres to slide well against each other during activities like muscle contractions there needs to be enough hydration otherwise the tissues become ‘sticky’.
Top tip no. 4
Breathe out on exertion. Whenever you are doing anything of exertion/effort like picking up the baby, toddler or buggy etc try to breathe out as you do the movement of effort. As you breathe out you will activate your abdominals and this will give you some support to your middle while you are increasing the load through it with the task you are carrying out.
Top tip no.5
Get checked out for the presence of a Diastasis (Abdominal muscle separation). Everyone’s abdominals have to stretch during pregnancy and in general they will come back together on their own after a few weeks following the birth. However, this is not always the case and if there is an ongoing gap between the abdominals with a very soft middle between the 2 main muscle bellies there is no support for your middle when you carry out more strenuous tasks and exercise. If this gap continues to be a problem, there is a risk of developing a ‘doming’ between the muscle bellies on exertional activities. If there is evidence of a diastasis then there are specific exercises that you can follow to help overcome the problem.
Top tip no. 6
Cut down on your caffeine intake. Caffeine is an irritant to the bladder (as are sugary drinks and alcohol!) so if you are having problems with pelvic floor function drinking something that makes you want to visit the toilet more often won’t be helping. Why not try some different herbal teas. I recently gave out some different tea bags to try at my Holistic Core Restore class and there was a very positive response to the liquorice flavour especially as it seemed to help alleviate the need to eat something sweet as well.
Top tip no 7
Stop the ‘just in cases’. Going to visit the toilet ‘just in case’ is not healthy for the bladder. The bladder is a muscle so if you don’t use it properly it will become less effective. Make sure when you visit the toilet it was a worthwhile trip! When you empty your bladder you should be able to count up to 8 Mississippis – 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi and so on up to 8, anything less wasn’t worth going!
Top tip no 8
Don’t hold your breath when you do anything that requires effort. Holding your breath will create a rise in the pressure within your intraabdominal cavity. If there is a weakness in the core system somewhere – eg pelvic floor or a diastasis (abdominal muscle separation) then that pressure will escape via the weakness, either causing an unwanted incident at the pelvic floor or a doming to occur through the abdominal muscle wall. I talked about breathing out on exertion in the first 5 tips.
Top tip no. 9
Eat more whole foods. Whole foods will be kinder to your digestive system. If you kind to your digestive system then you will be kind to your bowel too and hence no constipation. Any issues with constipation will cause great strain on your pelvic floor – not great in the long run. If you still want to go out for a little treat though or try a juice to help kick start your digestive system then why not take a trip to The Core in Charlton Kings www.thecorecheltenham.com
Top tip no.10
Try to have protein with every meal. Protein provides the body with essential amino acids which are important for healing tissues within your body. Therefore if you are trying to recover form a diastasis or pelvic floor trauma/weakness then increasing your protein intake will help to rebuild these tissues. Good sources of protein are eggs, fish and seafood, nuts and seeds and white meat.
I hope that these will prove just as helpful – let me know!