Pregnancy is one of the most exciting times of your life. It can also be the most confusing. With parents, in-laws, friends, books, blogs, health professionals and every mum under the sun giving you their differing opinions, it can be hard to know what to expect/what not to expect, what will work for you and what won’t and where to turn when you aren’t sure if what you’re experiencing is normal or not.
I’m not here to offer you advice on your birthing plan or how to raise your baby or the best type of pram to use. But over the years, I’ve definitely come across a lot of new mums who are floundering with the abundance of information thrown at them yet somehow have missed out on the crucial bits and bobs that can really make the experience a lot less uncomfortable.
Your body is UN-COM-FOR-TABLEEE. Am I right? And can you blame it, it’s currently growing another human inside of it (Quick kudos right here!). And that little bean is most likely feeling more like a really heavy watermelon right now. So how about we give your body a bit of a break.
Rather than lying down on your back, try getting on to all fours or leaning on a fitball. These are positions a lot of health professionals take for granted and assume pregnant mums will naturally gravitate towards, so if you haven’t thought to get down on your knees and hands, give it a go!
This will allow bub to hang down, offloading the constant pressure on your spine and back of your hips.
This is also one of the great positions to give birth in. Don’t feel like you have to be lying flat on your back to get baby out – this position is actually quite unnatural for birth-giving as it came about to give doctors easy access to aiding the mum. Squatting, four-point (hands and knees) kneeling, lying on your left-hand side, and standing, are actually your body’s more natural positions for getting bub out.
So your gorgeous baby has arrived. And you’re not sleeping much. And the laundry never ends. And breast feeding is actually really hard (“LATCH why don’t you?!”) but NOW, to top it off, your breasts are really achy and hot and bub is really only feeding from the right side and not the sore left side and there’s this hard, tender bump…….UGH.
There are two things that could be happening here: First you likely have a blocked milk duct. Which will just present as a hard, tender lump and difficulty with expressing. If this doesn’t get resolved quickly, the milk can get infected which will result in hot, VERY tender boobs with a hard lump or two. You may get a fever from this and your doctor may want to put you on antibiotics (so you won’t be able to breast feed bub for a bit)
So here’s my tip. If you feel a hard lump in your boob and notice that you’re not expressing as well:
See a PHYSIO and get some ultrasound done to break it up ASAP – this is honestly the quickest, most relieving form of treatment I’ve ever come across.
Massage your boob. Yup. You. (I mean hubby can help if you like, but you’ll be in pain and he’ll likely be getting slapped…and not in a fun way). Massage down towards the nipple, ideally in a hot shower or after applying a hot compress. You want to try work that dried milk out to open up that blocked duct again. Your physio can help you with this too.
You know in the olden days how they used to suggest putting cold cabbage leaves on your breasts? Well good reason for this- it will feel. SO. Good. Just trust me.
The aim is to get the duct open and milk flowing freely again as quickly as possible.
You’ll want to do all of the above even if you’re already at the fever stage as you need to get rid of the source of the infection (the stale milk that’s stuck in your milk duct).
3. ACHES and PAINS
This is NORMAL during pregnancy. I get a lot of mums coming in panicking about pain in their hips or back or groin during pregnancy and please always do go see your health professional about your aches and pains to learn how to deal with them. For peace of mind, know that pain during pregnancy is SO common. You may need to see your physio or chiro or health professional throughout your pregnancy for management of these aches. Again, VERY common and completely normal.
4. PELVIC FLOOR
OK, I may get a barrage of attacks from other physios following this advice. And please note that this is applicable for the general mum with nil current pelvic floor issues. (Please also note that I have done specific Women's Health training courses and have worked in this area)
Your pelvic floor is super important. It helps hold in bub (and your organs) and is necessary for sexual function. It helps with bladder and bowel control and is very helpful for holding bub in before he/she is ready to be pushed out.
Your pelvic floor should work automatically, without you thinking about it (this is why training it is so hard), and this is why I would encourage all my mums (and every other male/female really) to do pilates RATHER than go home and practice their kegels.
Strengthening your pelvic floor through exercises and functional movement that you do in day to day life is far more effective than sitting on a chair or fitball at home and practicing contracting your pelvic floor (again, for the average person with nil proper PF issues).
If you are moving correctly, your pelvic floor should be functioning correctly (hence why pilates, with someone watching you, is so helpful)
One of the issues we are seeing more commonly these days in regards to pelvic floor is actually an OVERACTIVE one rather than an UNDERACTIVE one. So we have our pelvic floor turned on ALL the time, rather than during the certain moves it should be on. You can imagine that this is a much trickier issue to fix than just teaching someone to use their pelvic floor (first we have to teach you to relax it and then only activate it at certain times).
SO, bottom line? Rather than sitting at home alone worrying about your pelvic floor, get out - go join a pilates group and make some friends, move your body and strengthen your pelvic floor all at the same time
I hope that wasn't too overwhelming, or too brief - please, if you have any questions on any of the topics, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or book in for an appointment with Cara-Lee!
Do you need an appointment with a physio? Book online here, or call us on (08) 9448 2994 now!