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So you might be wondering why a Sports Therapist would be writing an article relating to pregnancy and how it affects the body. The reason is rehabing a “new” mum after birth is remarkably similar to treating any kind of injury, sporting or otherwise. We also specialise in long standing pain conditions – usually brought on by postural habits, many of which start shortly after child birth.
As such we’ve seen lots of mums with all kinds of conditions. From those who have only just given birth to those who still have post pregnancy pain 20 or 30 years after giving birth. There is one thing in common with all of them. Their pain can be treated and fixed easily with a combination of treatment, advice and dispelling some common myths.
Why Do Mummy’s Hurt
There is always a mechanical cause of the pain you feel. But very rarely is the pain where the problem is. The amount of pain you feel is entirely determined in the brain (check out NOI Group of more information on the psychology of pain). The more danger that your brain perceives you to be in the more pain you will feel. This is why we look to dispel common misconceptions here. Pain is not damage. Just because you feel pain you are not doing anymore damage to yourself.
We feel more pain with increased levels of stress. Have you ever noticed how you feel your aches and pains more when you’ve had a bad day? If you’ve been rushing around for a couple of weeks without a break you feel your ailments more. Imagine how you feel if you keep going for 18 plus years without a break. This is how some of our ‘super mums’ for the first time finally taking time to themselves when their offspring have left the nest.
If you do have an ache or pain you’d love to get rid then please give us a call on 1. Relaxin Is A Good Thing
Of course we’re talking about the hormone. Among other functions it helps loosen your muscles and ligaments to help give birth. It’s peak production is in the first trimester to help you “grow” and it is also thought to stimulate labour. It can keep being produced up until 5 months post pregnancy – sometimes longer when still feeding.
It is NOT the source of all pain in your body. It is NOT produced indefinitely. If you are still producing relaxin you can exercise. If you are in discomfort it is the rest of your body that is causing the pain and not the relaxin in itself. You can seek treatment for any discomfort you may be having before, during and after pregnancy. For more information on the cycle of relaxin during pregnancy click here.
2. Relaxing Is A Good Thing
Of course we’re not talking about the hormone. Having a child is a gift and a joy. But that doesn’t come without an amount of stress. Your life will have changed dramatically whether it’s your first or fourth. Not to mention your hormones. As we mentioned above stress is one of the biggest factors in the amount of pain we feel. So relax and take some pressure off yourself and don’t expect too much.
We fully understand that is easy to say and harder to do but just take any opportunity you have, no matter how fleeting, to put your feet up, have a cup of tea, read a book, catch up on some sleep when the baby is sleeping – anything that you enjoy doing and find relaxing. If you’re more relaxed you’ll be in a better position to look after your children and you will feel less pain.
3. Don’t Catastrophise
It’s something we all do Mums or not. Fearing the worst. Whether that’s for our own health or for the health of our children. In every one of us what we can imagine to be the worst case scenario is actually a lot worse than what really could be the worst case – this is what emotions do to us.
The most frequent one we see post pregnancy is the “My pelvis is still not together” – trust me if this was the case you’d have been rushed back into hospital by now. Another, slightly less catastrophic one is “I still feel the scar from my c-section, I guess it will just be there forever” – we’ve seen many cases like this, some maybe 20 years after the birth. All of which are treatable and easily fixed.
4. Put The Baby Down!
Whilst cuddling babies is great, and they do need constant attention and love, please put the baby down whilst you’re doing jobs around the house. The reason is that especially as your baby gets older and heavier you tend to “support” your baby on one of your hips. Usually the opposite side to your dominant hand.
This will cause imbalances and can lead to pain. Usually lower back, but can affect shoulders, necks, down the arms and down the legs. So when doing the house work pop the baby in the pram, playpen, in front of their favourite toy, TV show – and then hope you get 5 minutes to do what you need to!
5. Look After Yourself
You’re no use to your family if you run yourself into the ground. It can happen anytime from 2 weeks to 20 years after birth. The super mum syndrome seems to be particularly prevalent in Brighton! We see so many ladies who are just on the go constantly expecting to be able to juggle everything in life without taking time out for themselves. Of course modern life is hectic without babies anyway, but don’t try to do it all on your own.
Use any way you can to take some pressure off – any family who can help out, any friends, the other half any kind of child care. Even if they do the jobs while you look after the kids. Or even better to give you some time to yourself to sit, be, and recover. So many mums by the time they come to see us have completely lost the ability to switch off and relax. You need to ‘make‘ time to do so. The more run down you get the more you feel minor aches and pains and the more you’re going to need to come see us… if you can find the time!
6. Things Can Be Done
If you do have any kind of condition as a result of pregnancy or just as a result of the stresses and strains of being a mum then help is at hands. We don’t believe in incurable pain and neither should you. Always seek help at the earliest possible moment when you have any kind of pain – it will quicker it fix and ultimately cheaper. Whether you choose to come and see us or any other practitioner please don’t suffer in silence. And don’t wait until they go to university to do something!
Here’s a list of the most common pregnancy related conditions, it is not comprehensive, but gives you an idea of the kind of things we can help you with. If you want some help or guidance and are worried what to do just give us a call on and we’ll be happy to help.
- Sacroiliac Joint (SIJ) Dysfunction – the bony bits round the back of your pelvis
- Back Pain
- Neck Pain
- Knee Pain
- Repetitive Strain Issue in Wrist or Elbow
- Nerve Symptoms Down Arm or Leg
- Pain In The Back Side
- Pubic Symphysis Dysfunction (PSD)
For anyone who has recently had a c-section here’s some great advice about starting exercising again.