Healthy Bladder and Bowel Habits
1. Deep Abdominal Muscle Exercises
Abdominal muscles are important for back support and in maintaining good posture. During pregnancy, your abdominal muscles stretched and became weakened.
Lie on your back, knees bent and feet hip distance apart.
Breathe in: let your tummy rise.
Breathe out: gently tighten your lower abdominal muscles by pulling your lower belly in towards your spine (as if getting into tight trousers).
Keep your upper abdominal muscles relaxed throughout the exercise, breathe normally. Hold the position for 5 seconds.
Repeat 5 times, 3 times a day.
Pull in your deep abdominal muscles during activities like lifting your baby and walking.
As you get stronger, you can do the exercise in sitting, on all fours and when standing. Gradually increase the hold time up to 60 seconds.
2. Knee Rolls (start as in exercise 1)
Tighten your lower abdominal muscles, slowly lower both knees to the right as far as is comfortable.
Use your tummy muscles to slowly bring your knees back to the middle and relax there. Repeat to the left.
Repeat 3 times each side, 3 times a day.
Slowly increase your repetitions till you can do 10 each side.
3. Pelvic tilts (start as in exercise 1)
Tighten your lower tummy and flatten your lower back into the bed.
Hold for 5-10 seconds and let go.
Repeat 10 times.
Following a caesarean section
The above exercises are helpful in relieving wind discomfort. When coughing firmly support your stitches with your hands or pillow. If you are in bed bend up your knees. For the first 6 weeks avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby, including housework or other strenuous activity.
If you are not experiencing any problems you can start as soon as you feel ready. Choose a comfortable position, use lubrication and start gently. If you have persistent pain or discomfort, discuss this with your doctor at your 6 week check up.
When lifting, bend your knees, keep your back straight and always tighten your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles. Hold the object firmly and close to your body. Make sure your work surfaces are at waist height (e.g. bathing & changing your baby).
Create a supportive position for feeding. Sit well back in the chair, make sure your feet are supported and use pillows help lift the baby up to your breast.
Start gentle walking as pain/discomfort allows; gradually increase your distance and then your speed up to a 30 minute walk each day. You can start swimming when you have had 7 days in a row free from vaginal bleeding or discharge. Wait 3 months to return to heavy exercises, sit ups or weights.
Postnatal ‘core and pelvic floor’ exercise class
We recommend that you attend the postnatal exercise class within 6 weeks if you had a vaginal birth and within 8 weeks if you had a caesarean section. It is very important to attend the class if you are having problems with your bladder or bowel control or with back or pelvic pain. It is an opportunity to learn how and when to return to exercise and to meet other mums. You are welcome to bring your baby with you to the class, which is held every Thursday from 11.30 am to 12.30 pm in the physiotherapy department. Please ring 01 817 1787 to make a booking.