Oct 19th 2012 How to Take Care of Your Body During and After Pregnancy
Throughout pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes an amazing transformation in order to nourish and support her growing baby. During this transformation, her blood supply is increased by 30-50 percent, and her uterus expands to multiple times its normal size. This rapid expansion stretches and strains pelvic connective tissues and muscles, which can lead to a condition called Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP).
In order to maintain the health of pelvic organs and tissues throughout pregnancy and beyond, it is important that women remain properly hydrated, eat a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly. By paying particular attention to pelvic health during and after pregnancy, women can minimize the chances of developing conditions like pelvic organ prolapse or urinary incontinence.
Maintaining the Health of Your Body During and After Pregnancy
- Live a healthy lifestyle. For women who have not been as careful about their dietary intake and exercise, pregnancy is an important time to begin focusing on overall health and well-being. Developing babies need a diet high in protein, vitamins and minerals. Women should lower their consumption of processed foods, sugars and saturated fats. It is also important for women to quit smoking, as it is linked to health complications for both the baby and the mother.
- Daily exercise. Exercise is important during pregnancy and throughout the postpartum period. Women should talk to their doctor about appropriate exercises for their stage of pregnancy. Some activities are safer than others, as a woman’s pregnancy progresses. However, daily exercise will help to maintain a healthy weight and increase circulation.
- Daily pelvic floor exercises. During pregnancy, the weight of the growing baby, combined with the rapid expansion of pelvic connective tissues, can cause a woman to become incontinent. Kegel exercises can work wonders to maintain strength and tone in the upper vagina and pelvic floor. Studies have shown that women who do daily Kegel exercises throughout their pregnancies are significantly less likely to develop pelvic organ prolapse or stress urinary incontinence.
After the baby’s birth, continued emphasis on Kegels, as well as other core-building exercises — such as yoga and Pilates — can help to build and maintain strength in core muscles, which can prevent stress urinary incontinence later on.
- Postpartum massage. After the baby is born, it can be helpful to receive postpartum massage from a licensed massage therapist. Pelvic massages, especially those using techniques that focus on myofascial and connective tissues, can help to facilitate the return of healthy pelvic and abdominal tone. Techniques that work to realign organs and nourish pelvic tissues include Shiatsu, Myofascial Release and Maya massage.
Once the baby is born, it can be challenging for women to focus on their own physical and emotional well-being. However, by prioritizing their pelvic health, women can prevent the onset of debilitating symptoms from pelvic organ prolapse or stress urinary incontinence. While these conditions are usually diagnosed during menopause, an emphasis on pelvic health earlier in life can prevent a woman from requiring surgical procedures in the future — including transvaginal mesh surgery, which comes with the risk of serious complications. Some complications are so serious, many women have had to file a vaginal mesh lawsuit.
Elizabeth Carrollton writes about defective medical devices and dangerous drugs for Drugwatch.com.