Many women feel pressure to get back in shape after pregnancy and childbirth. The best way to start to recover is to start gently finding and activating the pelvic floor muscles. Very often we are kind in a hurry to get back in shape, but the best (and fastest!) results by far I have seen with women, who have patience to start in peace and to proceed little by little.
The results can make a great improvement to your quality of life (e.g. removal of back pain or improved bowel and urinary continence). After a while, training of the pelvic floor muscles can become part of your everyday activities. This reduces the need for separate training sessions. The aim of the training is to restore the pelvic floor muscles. Since we normally use these muscles automatically, most women are not even aware of them or their function before pregnancy and childbirth.
It is best to let the body recover after childbirth for about two months, except for pelvic floor muscle training and walking. These should be started as soon as possible, as they help the body recover from childbirth, e.g. by boosting blood circulation. If you have had an episiotomy during childbirth, improved circulation in the area will promote tissue healing.
As it is important to give your body time to heal after childbirth, it is also important to give it what it needs in order to help it to recover. Walking requires concentration to maintain good posture and manage the core, which will help in becoming aware of your abdominal muscles. It is best to start pelvic floor muscle training as soon after childbirth as possible, preferably within a few days.
After childbirth, new mothers are often told at the hospital and the maternity clinic to train their pelvic floor muscles. This is very sound advice, but they often fail to explain how the pelvic floor muscles should be trained, and what the goal of the training is. Also, it is not always mentioned that learning to relax the pelvic floor muscles is just as important as training them.
Pelvic floor muscles are the layer of muscles that support the pelvic organs and span the bottom of the pelvis. The pelvic organs are bladder, bowel and uterus.
The pelvic floor muscles stretch like a muscular trampoline from the tailbone to the pubic bone (front to back) and from one sitting bone to the other sitting bone (side to side). These muscles are normally firm and thick.
Imagine the pelvic floor muscles as a round mini-trampoline made of firm muscle. Just like a trampoline, the pelvic floor is able to move down and up. The bladder, uterus and bowel lie on the pelvic floor muscle layer.
The muscles of the pelvic floor work with the abdominal and back muscles to stabilise and support the spine.