How long it takes for pelvic floor to recover after childbirth?


Weak pelvic floor after childbirth
"Pelvic floor" after childbirth
Photo by Melani Sosa

What is pelvic floor exactly?

Basically, the pelvic floor is the muscles attached to the pelvic bone to support the vagina, bowel, and uterus. 

Pelvic floor muscles are used while exercising, passing urine or stool, or when we stand and sit down also while having sex. 

The genital organs which get affected during delivery are the bladder, uterus, cervix, vagina, and rectum.  


How to know that you have a weak pelvic floor muscle?

Here are a few main symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction :

                                                           1. Urinary issues like the urge to pee

                                                           2. Lower back pain

                                                           3. Bowel strain

                                                           4. Pain in pelvic organs

                                                           5. Pressure in the pelvic region

                                                                

What happens to pelvic floor during and after birth?

The pelvic floor muscles elongate during pregnancy and stretch at the time of childbirth. As the baby grows in the womb the uterus becomes heavier and puts a lot of pressure on the pelvic area. 

And as a result, the pelvic floor weakens or damages which causes inconsistence, pelvic prolapse, difficulty having a bowel movement, and pain in pelvic organs.

Ouch! Did someone leak wee when coughing, laughing, sneezing? That’s common among new mums. When we are not able to control pee is what urinary inconsistence is. 


How long it takes for pelvic floor to recover after childbirth?

Childbirth is the most transformative phase in a women’s life. And it becomes vital to know a few things about how to recover from delivery in time. Ladies who had natural perineum tear, episiotomy, or had a traumatic vaginal birth always has would like to know exactly “how long would it take for your pelvic floor to recover after childbirth”?


Women’s the body is constantly changing. We adjust to childbirth and then again adjust to menopause. It usually takes around 6 -12 weeks for genital organs to get back to normal. But if the discomfort is persistent and if you experience severe pain down there then for sure you need to consult the doctor and get it checked.


(When did I feel completely normal in the pelvic region after giving birth?)

(My views)

I had given vaginal birth which was a lot painful and exhausting at the same time. Actually had an episiotomy too so, the initial 2 weeks were like a nightmare for me. 

I felt a sharp pain and burning sensation moreover, it was a bit swollen too down there. There was complete discomfort while walking, sitting, and using the toilet. 

The stitches dissolved and started getting dry during the 4th week of postpartum. In the beginning, while standing I used to feel as if my intestine or other organs might fall down. 

I guess it was a mild prolapse or an after effect of vaginal birth. After 3 months, there was still a bit of pain lingering in that area. To be honest, I felt I was back to normal after complete 6 months of giving birth.  

Every woman has a different birth experience and may recover or heal at a different rate. Some may take time while others might recover within few weeks.


Do you know about the types of urinary inconsistency after giving birth?

 Cant hold your pee and leaking often?

Know 2 main types of urinary inconsistence:

Stress inconsistence: 

Due to forceful actions like sneezing, laughing, lifting, etc.

Urge Inconsistence: 

Due to the sudden intense urge to pee even if not much in the bladder.

  

What is a pelvic organ prolapse? 

And when the pelvic organs weaken and are not properly supported and descend into the vagina causing heavy dragging sensation is what pelvic organ prolapse is.

Pelvic organs move from the normal position in the body and push the walls of the vagina. Many women experience some type of pelvic organ prolapse and it affects everyone differently.

There are treatments available to cure pelvic organ prolapse. If the prolapse is mild, lifestyle change and kegel can get you back to normal but if the prolapse is severe then you may need treatments like:

1. Physical therapy

2. Pessary (silicon device to support organs)

3. Surgery


Do moms who have C-sections do not get urinary inconsistence or prolapse?

To let you know pregnancy hormones also loosen the pelvic muscles. New moms who have delivered vaginally are more like to have urinary inconsistence compared to women who have c-sections. 

But it has been seen that a substantial number of women who choose C-section end up leaking after giving birth. 

Having C- section or cesarean doesn’t protect from urinary inconsistence or prolapse. Women who are born with weaker tissues may suffer from prolapse.


Do women who decide not to have children experience any pelvic floor disorder in their life?

Childbirth, injury in the pelvic region, obesity, surgery, heavy lifting are a few of the causes of pelvic floor disorder. Childbirth is one of the main causes of pelvic floor disorder amongst women.

 

                    Why you should not lift heavy objects after giving birth?

If you lift heavy objects it puts more pressure on your abdominal area and if your pelvic organs can’t manage this pressure it will further move down or get displaced. That is the reason why after delivery, we mums are often advised to take rest which we deserve in a true sense after all the exertions.


How to take care of pelvic floor after giving birth?

1. Take the most needed rest: Prioritize rest for at least 2 weeks after giving birth. Giving birth is like running a marathon, it is for sure exhaust you unbelievably so the first thing you are required to do for a speedy recovery is to take an ample amount of rest. Taking the much-needed rest will eliminate gravity from adding extra pressure on the pelvic area.


2. Keep it clean & use pedicles : Make sure the perineal area is clean, dry and avoid rubbing and scratching. Don’t use soap as it disturbs the Ph balance, just use warm water to clean it. Keep your sanitary pads in the freezer to be used in the first 2-3 days of childbirth because you may feel a burning sensation and may have swelling down there. It may give you a cool soothing effect in the perineum.


3. Warm water bath (sitz): Taking a shallow warm water bath is said to increase flow in the pelvic area and leads to quick healing. Sitz also helps with the back pain and gives a soothing effect, recommended for all postpartum moms.


4. Compression: Using supportive and compressed underpants is the best way you can give some support to your belly. Waist belts can also provide support in that area.


5 Avoid constipation: Dehydration, loss of blood, and hormonal changes during childbirth cause constipation or slow bowel function. In the initial days, it will be a bit difficult to pass the bowel. Therefore, it is often recommended to use stool softeners and keep yourself hydrated. Also, try to take fiber-rich food and probiotics.


6. Don’t lift children or other heavy objects: If you lift heavy objects in the initial few weeks after childbirth, it will put pressure in the pelvic area and the weak muscles won’t be able to handle this and will let to prolapse or other serious health injuries.


7. Exercise: You can consider Kegel or other pelvic floor exercises as it improves blood flow and it will reduce swelling or bruises. Kegels can be done even while sitting so whenever you are comfortable you can start with kegel and then other pelvic floor exercises too. Initially, when you start exercising you won’t feel anything down there but gradually you will regain the sense and control.


How do I strengthen pelvic floor muscles after postpartum?

To regain your control and to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles you can consider doing exercise which aims to work on those muscles. These kinds of exercises are known as pelvic floor exercises or Kegels. It can help prevent inconsistence (leaks) and can treat your pelvic organ prolapse too.

                                            

Pelvic floor exercises
Pelvic floor exercises to strengthen pelvic muscles 
                                                           Photo by We-Vibe WOW Tech 

                        What is the importance of the pelvic-floor-health?

It is important to know that the pelvic area is the most affected one in our body at the time of childbirth especially when it is a vaginal delivery. Pelvic floor muscles weaken and stretch as soon as 12 weeks into pregnancy. 

After several pregnancies, the pelvic organs may slip down. The pelvic floor gets massively affected because of the trauma of childbirth. 

Also, it is important to know that with the age, the strength of the pelvic floor decreases.

Hence, it becomes important to practice pelvic floor exercises daily to protect yourself from the inconsistence and dragging feeling down there, because the uterus, womb, and bowel push the walls of your vagina leading to other major problems too. 


Have you got overactive or tight pelvic floor muscles? 

The cause of overactive pelvic floor is constant construction. This can cause great discomfort and pain in that area. After tightening or pelvic floor exercise don't forget to relax the muscles. If you don't relax the muscles much, it would make your pelvic floor overactive.



How to do pelvic floor exercise or Kegel?

1.  You can sit comfortably and lean forward.

2. Simply squeeze and lift your pelvic muscles down there as if you are trying to hold your pee, hold it for 5 seconds, and then relax it for 5 seconds.

3. Try to do it 10 -15 times. Don’t overdo it as it can cause tightness, uneasiness, and pain.

4. You need not to use your tummy muscles for this.


When to start pelvic floor exercise or Kegel after childbirth?

Well, to be honest initially after giving birth you won’t feel your pelvic floor and find it difficult to squeeze and relax that area down there a number of times as its already sore and painful.

But it is believed that whenever one feels comfortable after the delivery, it is best to practice this pelvic exercise.

It is better to start pelvic floor exercise while pregnant or planning to get pregnant. 

Doing this well before childbirth can help with urinary inconsistence.


What happens if you can’t do kegel?

I tried doing kegel and even after watching endless videos I was not sure if that was my thing. If you are like me, then you can still do other pelvic floor exercises like:


A. Bridges

1. Lie on your back, bend your knees, flat feet on the floor, and hands on the side.

2. Open your legs a little bit then raise your hip to create a straight line from your knees to shoulder

3. Squeeze your core and hold it for 20 seconds.

4. Release and return to your original position on the mat. 3 sets with 10-15 reps.

 

B. Squats:

1. Stand in an upright position, feet slightly wide apart.

2. Bend your knees and moving your buttock downwards as if you are going to sit in a chair.

3. Drop down until thighs are parallel to the floor.

4. Return to normal position. Repeat 10 times a set. 3 sets to start with.

 

C. Split tabletop.

1. Lie flat on the back. Lift your legs up at 90 degrees.

2. Inhale and gently separate or split your legs so the knees fall apart

3. Exhale and squeeze your thighs back together.

4. Repeat 10-15 times a set with a total of 3 sets would be sufficient.


These are the 3 most easy and effective pelvic floor exercises which I bet most of us can do without putting in too much energy or effort. 

Go and watch a few youtube videos of these 3 super easy pelvic floor exercises to understand them better and improve your pelvic floor health sitting at home. 

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