Happy mother’s day! Tips for mums to stay pain-free
Mother’s Day is coming up and that means a lot of cake, cups of tea in bed and other delights. Hopefully, you can get the morning off on this special day! For all mums, the journey of motherhood can sometimes be daunting. There is a lot of information to consume about how to care for your baby as they turn into a child, a teen and eventually an adult. But what about caring for all of those niggling aches and pains that you experience ? This Mother’s Day, honour and cherish yourself with these helpful hints and tips for avoiding common ‘mum’ pains in the body.
Where is the pain coming from?
Pain can either be localised to a specific area of the body or referred from another part of the body. Pain in the abdominal region or pelvis are quite common in the weeks after childbirth, but also at other times during motherhood.
Strengthening weakened pelvic floor muscles
The pelvic floor muscles extend like an elastic band or a hammock between your hip bones and spine and encompass ligaments and nerves. Essentially they keep your abdominal organs in place. Giving birth can often weaken pelvic floor muscles. Although women of all ages and stages of life can have a weakened pelvic floor. This can also be caused by hormonal changes during menopause and gaining weight.
But it’s not all doom and gloom! There are many therapeutic treatments out there to help strengthen your pelvic floor. Common interventions include manual therapy, massage or a therapeutic exercise prescription such as clinical Pilate’s classes. The friendly and highly experienced team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy will be able to help you to reduce pain and restore function to body.
What are Kegel Exercises?
Kegel exercises are also known as pelvic floor exercises. They were invented back in the 1940’s by a gynaecologist named Dr Kegel. Women of all ages are encouraged to try Kegel exercises. The exercises are great for recovering from childbirth, as well as for dealing with hormonal changes to the body during menopause.
A Kegel exercise to try
The great thing about Kegel exercises or pelvic floor exercises is that you can do them almost anywhere and nobody will even know!
Exercise: cat cow squeeze
Kneel on your hands and knees on the ground. As you would for a cat-cow position in yoga.
Close your eyes, imagine what muscles you would tighten to stop yourself from passing urine.
Now that you can feel your pelvic floor muscles working, tighten them and hold for three to five seconds. By doing this, you should feel your pelvic floor muscles ‘lift up’ inside you and feel a definite ‘let go’ as the muscles relax.
If you can hold longer (but no more than a maximum of eight seconds), then do so. Repeat up to ten times or until you feel your pelvic floor muscles fatigue. Rest for a few seconds in between each squeeze.
In order to keep your pelvic girdle strong and to prevent pelvic pain it’s recommended to exercise your pelvic floor regularly. If you do have questions about your pelvic floor muscles, or pelvic pain you should make an appointment to see Maroubra Road Physio’s team of physiotherapists. Our friendly and highly experienced team offer assistance with ante-natal and post-natal physiotherapy.
Post-partum back pain
Back pain during pregnancy is a common occurrence. Generally though, you should be experiencing less and less pain in the months following delivery, as your body heals itself. If you have persistent back pain, you may need to seek help from a physiotherapist.
When you have gotten the OK from your physiotherapist you can gradually start doing exercises to strengthen your back and abdominal muscles. Walking, gentle stretching and gentle yoga are often recommended. Just be sure to avoid extreme positions or overstretching. Listen closely to your body for any signs of pain or discomfort and stop immediately if you experience this.
Correct body posture post-partum
Adopting the correct body posture while breast-feeding or feeding your baby with a bottle will help with back pain. Ensure that you use plenty of pillows to support your back. Adopt a position where you sit up straight with your back erect and supported to avoid straining your back. Try out different positions when breastfeeding. If you have tense or sore shoulders or upper back, a side-lying position for breastfeeding might be the most comfortable for you.
Remember that when picking up a baby or any other heavy object, you should bend from the knees in a crouching position rather than bend from the waist or hips. The latter method puts a lot of pressure on your spine and leads to pain.
Sacroiliac and lumbosacral pain
The biological necessity for rapid growth during pregnancy causes a lot of changes to your body as a mum.
These changes include fluid retention, weight gain, changes to your centre of gravity, ligament laxity and overstretching your postural muscles. Sacroiliac and lumbosacral problems are experienced by many women in months after delivery. But if the problems persist for 12-18 months after giving birth then you can try some physiotherapy and self-care solutions to resolve this.
Causes of sacroiliac and lumbosacral pain
The release of a hormone called relaxin during pregnancy causes the ligaments in your pelvis to loosen. This means your body is more easily able to accommodate the growth of the baby. Although it does lead to instability of the pelvic joints, also known as the sacroiliac joints. The weight gain that naturally occurs during pregnancy also places an additional load onto the pelvic joints and lower back making them more susceptible to injury.
Pain is often felt in the buttocks near the tail-bone and lower back. Pain can also radiate to the front of the pelvis, hips and thighs.
One or both legs may feel weak and you may feel less able to bear weight. When walking, turning in bed, bending forwards to pick up your baby or attempting to breastfeed you may be experiencing pain.
Self-help for sacroiliac pain
Here are some easy at-home tips for preventing sacroiliac pain:
- Avoid being in positions where your body weight is unevenly distributed between each leg.
- Change your position in bed by first sitting up right, then turning around.
- Sit down when you put on your socks or shoes.
- If walking is particularly painful, try using a pelvic support belt until the pain subsides.
- Try contracting the muscles in your abdomen prior to exerting yourself through movement.
Physiotherapy treatments for sacroiliac and lumbosacral pain
The team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy will employ a range of treatments and provide advice on many ways the pain can be alleviated. You may receive education on movement patterns and positions to avoid. Often the gentle mobilisation of stiff joints in the hip, back and pelvis, which may be contributing to this pain, may help. Soft tissue release techniques will help to relieve pain in the strained muscles.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself
Here’s a good excuse to get some alone time in the first few months. A soak in a warm bathtub will really ease muscle aches and pain, improve your mood and energy levels. Remember that it’s Mother’s Day coming up. That means you’re allowed to schedule in some much needed ‘me’ time. From everyone at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy, we hope you have a great Mother’s Day and a great year ahead.
If you enjoyed this article, please share it with a woman you love, whether it’s your own mum, a friend or someone else. And if you would like to know more about overcoming musculoskeletal pain, then give the friendly and professional team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy a call on (02) 9314 3888.
Department of Health, Australian Government (2017) Physiotherapy advice after childbirth.
The Conversation (2019) Are Kegel Exercises Actually Good For You? Melissa Kang, University of Technology, Sydney.
Regional Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine (1997) Myofascial pain syndrome and trigger-point management Dr Stephanie Han et. al.
South Australian Government (2018) Pelvic Floor Exercises After Giving Birth
The Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne. Pelvic Floor Exercises.
Cochrane Database System Review (2015) “Interventions for preventing and treating low-back and pelvic pain during pregnancy. Liddle S.D., and Pennick V.
BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders (2016) “Predictors and consequences of long-term pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain: a longitudinal follow-up study” Elden H., Gutke A., Kjellby-Wendt G., et al.