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Your Body After Baby

Things to consider after having your baby

What is normal and what’s not? How do you know if you need help?

After the birth of your baby, whether it is a vaginal or cesarean birth, your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles have been stretched, possibly damaged, and it is important to safely get them working well again. Unsafe exercise can cause bladder and bowel control issues and possibly pain. Knowing when and how to exercise is important.

Jumping right into an exercise program after delivery isn’t ideal for everyone.

What is Normal?

0-8 weeks after delivery

  • You may feel pain, swelling and bruising in your pelvic floor area you may experience pain in your back, neck, hips or pelvis
  • You may have difficulty controlling urine, wind, or your bowel

At this stage allow yourself time to heal and talk to your Midwife or Doctor if you have concerns

What to do as you heal

  • Keep a good, supported posture when sitting and feeding
  • Begin to gently contract your pelvic floor muscles increasing the contraction to where you can hold up to 5 seconds. See your women’s health physiotherapist to see you are doing them correctly
  • Stretch out your hips, low back, and gluteal area to relieve tightness
  • Rest is important and listen to your body

8+ weeks after delivery

  • Your bleeding should have stopped, and any incisions or stitches should have healed
  • You should be pain-free
  • You should have control of your bladder and bowel
  • You can now start a gentle increase in activity but see the checklist first to see if you are ready

What is Not Normal

  • Ongoing back, pelvis groin or abdominal pain
  • Leaking urine, wind or bowel motion with movement or exercise
  • Pressure, bulging or heaviness in the vaginal or rectal area
  • Bulging of your abdomen during ANY exercise
  • Painful intercourse
  • Difficulty doing any of your everyday activities because of pain, leakage, pressure or other concerning symptoms

What to do if you have symptoms

  • Speak to your GP 
  • Get some advice from a Women’s Health Physiotherapist- they are experts in post-partum recovery
  • Avoid activities that will make things worse - NO sit-ups, planking, burpees or boot-camps. The deep core and pelvic floor muscles need to be safely trained first

What will a Women’s Health Physiotherapist do?

  • Provide a detailed assessment which may include an internal assessment, check for abdominal separation, and check core stability
  • Explain to you their findings
  • Work with you to develop a treatment program that is specific to your needs
  • Advise you when you are ready to take on more activity
  • Help you with problems during your pregnancy
  • Be sure you are exercising right

Where to find help?

Sara Maunsell at Femme Physiotherapy in Milford, Auckland, is a trained Women’s Health Physiotherapist who has 20+ years of experience treating women with pelvic floor disorders, continence, pelvic pain, and pregnancy-related problems. to book online

Professional Affiliations:

  • Pelvic Women’s and Men’s Health Special Interest Group of the New Zealand Society of Physiotherapists
  • Women's Health Training Associates Australia 
  • Continence New Zealand 
  • ACC Registered Provider

You can also find a Women’s Health Physiotherapist in your area who focuses on post-partum health and select the area you wish to find a physio