Having a child brings so many changes to your body. You want to make sure that your body can be in the best condition to be able to lift your baby, pram, baby baths or if applicable, their older siblings. Often you can be sleep deprived and up many times of the night and so your muscles have to work overtime to hold you up so they need the endurance to be able to do this. You need to often hold yourself in postures for prolonged periods of time with settling or feeding the baby. Your body may not be used to this load. To cope with all this, you want an optimal, resilient body to minimise injury or issues in the future. You also want your body back to “the way it was” as soon as possible. You may want to start running or lifting weights or going to the gym again or commence any sort of exercise. You want to ensure that it is safe to do so.
What can be wrong after I have the baby?
In this series of blogs, we are discussing all the typical things that can happen to your body after giving birth. The first topic is Abdominal Separation.
Abdominal separation is where the sheath that connects your “six-pack” muscles together stretches and your “six-pack” muscles separate apart.
It is normal to have a degree of abdominal separation during pregnancy to make room for the baby. After you have given birth, the first 6 weeks should be the time where most of the separation should resolve naturally. However, if the separation measured before birth and especially after giving birth is quite significant it may have a hard time resolving itself. Also, if you are using the incorrect strategies when you move and use your abdominal muscles, this could potentially delay this natural healing time as well. You could potentially widen the separation further with poor recruitment strategies. You may not necessarily feel any symptoms when you do have an abdominal separation but it is important to diagnose it to minimise any issues in the future such as pelvic floor conditions, back or pelvic pain. Other people feel like a doming sensation in the abdominals when they do a sit-up action with either lifting their head up or lifting or lowering their legs. “Doming” is often an indication that the recruitment strategy is non-optimal and needs correcting.
What do Women’s Health Physiotherapists look at?
They look at the width, length and depth of the separation using their fingers to feel for it between your ribs and pubic bone.
At Inspired Physiotherapy, Real Time Ultrasound is also used to assess how the different layers of abdominal muscles are functioning. We can also see if it is contracting together with your pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor can be scanned externally just below your belly button.
Postural corrections and cues can then be given to address any poor recruitment strategies and a graded exercise program is prescribed to work these muscles at the right intensity to make the greatest changes over time using the correct strategy.
Make a booking with Inspired Physiotherapy to ensure your abdominal separation is measured and monitored to ensure optimal healing. As your baby continues to grow heavier and larger, you want to ensure that your body is capable of lifting these loads properly without risking injury or pelvic floor issues. Foundations of proper abdominal activation must be established before adding further loads like exercising, running and lifting weights.