Congratulations on the safe arrival of baby Louis!
As a health professional, I’m concerned about your pelvic floor recovery; you must have missed your Women’s Health Physiotherapist visit (having left hospital soon after giving birth).
Louis is a big boy weighing 3.8 kg ( 8 lb 6 oz) and reportedly the biggest royal baby born in over a hundred years!
This means your pelvic floor will be weak after carrying and delivering him, especially considering your slight frame.
Kate I’m sending you this quick list of tips to help you get your pelvic floor back in shape and avoid long-term pelvic floor problems like prolapse.
7 Immediate Pelvic Floor Recovery Tips for Kate
Try to get some daily rest lying down.
Kate I realise there’s a lot of pre-wedding drama at the palace just now but try to get some rest!
Lying down will help reduce pelvic floor swelling. Position a pillow under your knees while lying on your back. This will relieve your lower back and take some pressure of your pelvic floor too.
Feeding Louis while lying down can provide you with a good opportunity to rest your pelvic floor during the course of the day.
2. Cold Pack
Apply a cold pack wrapped in a disposable cloth (e.g. Chux) to your outer pelvic floor.
If you don’t have a cold pack handy at home, William can easily make some up for you. Ask him to pop out to your local store and buy a packet of condoms. Filled with water and frozen these will make convenient disposable cold packs for your pelvic floor.
You’ll find that applying a cold pack intermittently throughout the day for 10-15 minutes at a time will help reduce your pelvic floor pain and swelling. If you have an episiotomy wound try to keep it dry.
3. Pelvic Floor Exercises
Kate you need to start gentle pelvic floor pulses gently lifting and lowering your pelvic floor muscles as soon as you can. If you’ve had a large tear and a lot of stitches you’ll need to wait for them to heal before starting your pelvic floor exercises (speak with your obstetrician about when to start).
Gently exercising your pelvic floor muscles will help reduce swelling in your perineum, promote circulation and healing.
Pelvic floor exercises are vital for pelvic floor recovery; they help restore your pelvic floor strength and control. Your pelvic floor muscles have been stretched and strained during your pregnancy and delivery.
Start with 2-3 gentle pelvic floor pulses intermittently throughout the day when lying down and/or when feeding.
Gradually progress the strength and duration of your pelvic floor exercises over the coming weeks and months.
Aim to progress to 3 sets of 8-12 pelvic floor exercises holding each exercise for around 10 seconds. It will take you at least 6 months to restore your pelvic floor condition and even longer if you’re breastfeeding.
4. Manage Your Bowels & Avoid Straining
Manage your bowels well and try to avoid constipation to promote your pelvic floor recovery. Constipation and straining can damage your already weakened pelvic floor.
You can manage your bowels by:
- Positioning yourself correctly on the toilet
- Using the correct brace and bulge bowel movement technique
- Emptying your bowels as soon as you feel the first urge to empty
- Choosing foods that help keep you regular and your stool consistency well formed and easy to pass
- Supporting your perineum using a pad or rolled up tissue paper during emptying
- Maintaining good fluid intake, especially if you’re breastfeeding
5. Avoid Heavy Lifting
Heavy lifting will strain your vulnerable pelvic floor.
Kate try not to lift George or Charlotte in the near future. Enlist William’s help especially when getting them in and out of the Range Rover or encourage them to climb independently while you supervise them. If you need to lift use correct lifting technique.
Cuddle them by nursing them as you sit or kneel. Play with them at their own level for example lying down with them on the lounge room floor.
Try to minimise the heavy lifting with your housework (here’s a housework guide for you). Use a laundry trolley to push the laundry basket to the clothes line. Use a shopping trolley and ask the cashier to pack your load into small manageable bags.
6. Appropriate Exercise
Resume your exercise program with walking.
I know you have Harry and Meghan’s impending wedding but please don’t pressure yourself by thinking you need to go overboard with exercise to fit into your size 6 dress.
Some unsafe exercises will overload your weakened pelvic floor increasing your risk of long term prolapse and/or incontinence problems. Avoid high impact exercises e.g. running and intense core abdominal exercises like sit ups.
If walking feels comfortable for your pelvis, resume your exercise program by walking on flat surfaces. You may also like to start some gentle daily Pilates-style deep abdominal core exercises.
Your return to exercise should match your pelvic floor rehabilitation; your safe exercise routine can become more intense as your pelvic floor recovers over the coming months.
7. Accept Help
Accept offers of assistance to help you rest and recover.
Her Majesty might drop in a meal or William may to mind the kids while you rest. This will give you time off your feet and allow your pelvic floor to rest and recover.
Finally, if you find that you need some help with your pelvic floor recovery over the coming weeks or months, see a Women’s Health Physiotherapist to guide you.
If you’re having trouble finding a Physiotherapist I’m more than happy to pop over to the Palace for a home visit – just give me a call.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Michelle Kenway
Michelle Kenway is a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and author of Inside Out – the Essential Women’s Guide to Pelvic Support.
The Inside Out exercise DVD and book show you how to strengthen your pelvic floor and exercise safely.