Becoming a Mommy is a life-changing process. Beginning from pregnancy, we notice many physical, mental and lifestyle changes unfold. We start to plan our days around our child, we carry bags loaded with their essentials, we sleep according to their patterns and we are always worrying about their happiness and safety. Most of us begin to realize selflessness in not just ourselves but also in our own Moms.

A Mommy’s Love

Most people agree that a Mother’s love is the most noble. When we asked Mothers themselves what their biggest act of selflessness was, most agreed on pregnancy being their first and biggest. 

“It could be a huge disruption to our career and personal goals, and it definitely takes a toll on the body with weight gain, loose skin, nausea, incontinence and labour pains- and yet we still do it.” 

Even after pregnancy, we continue to put our child first. We compromise our own eating and sleeping patterns to feed and care for them and dedicate hours and go through massive efforts to help them with schoolwork.

As we sacrifice more and more Me-Time, we begin to forget a principal question: “What about me?”.

Self-Care and the Self  

Self-care is often linked to our health and quality of life. The introduction of positive lifestyle practices is frequently said to improve personal well-being in physical and mental terms. However, it has been found that self-care behaviors are often affected by personal health beliefs. Commonly, mothers neglect themselves because they prioritise their children’s health and believe their own to be secondary. 

At Orchard Clinic, regular clients consistently feedback that the sessions rejuvenate them and improve their day’s mood and spirit, allowing them to care better for their family. Especially for clients caring for younger children, time for the self is often disregarded despite knowing that it would be deeply essential and beneficial. 

Self-Care and Children 

Through their formative years, children acquire the practices and beliefs of their surroundings. Because they are so impressionable and imitative, parents are often suggested to be crucial developers of children’s imitation. 

Indeed, children are vulnerable to the influences surrounding them. Parents are often worried about their children learning negative behavior and habits since these commonly extrapolate throughout life. As such, it is paramount that parents provide environments with positive examples. Where better to start than being one yourself? 

Caring for the Self 

Some of the most common postnatal conditions include Diastasis Recti Abdominis (DRA) or separation of abdominal muscles and Incontinence (involuntary urine leakage). Often times, mommies let these conditions go untreated thinking they are either:

  1. A natural part of pregnancy to be lived with.
  2. Non-threatening conditions with no side effects to health, or
  3. Due to difficulty in committing time to treatment.  

Often, they end up discounting conditions in the thought that their time and energy are better expended to family. The dismissal of these issues additionally stem from the conditions not heavily affecting their daily lives yet. 

However when left alone, these conditions run the risk of worsening and mushrooming into something much more distressing.

Diastasis Recti Abdominis (DRA)

Also commonly known as “Mummy Tummy”, DRA refers to a separation of more than 2.7cm between the left and right abdominal muscles. These muscles naturally separate due to the expansion of the uterus during pregnancy. Especially for mothers with multiple childbirths or heavy babies, the stretch and damage do not fully recover and end up causing a bulge between.

Many people misunderstand DRA as an unavoidable and harmless condition. However, it is closely and strongly linked with weakened abdominal and core muscles, which is why many postnatal women experience significant back pain. Like most other parts of our body, these muscles will only deteriorate with age. An untreated Diastasis Recti and weakened core muscles will invite more problems in the long run, such as:

  • Worsening back pain.
  • Postural instability and muscular imbalances
  • Pelvic floor disorders such as incontinence
  • Increased restrictions in terms of exercise and lifestyle. 

In some cases as the gap widens with age, organs (commonly the intestines) get displaced and begin to bulge through the gap, a condition known as Hernia.

Here, Cheryl shares with us how to do a self-assessment for Diastasis Recti.

I am Suffering from Diastasis Recti!

Do not fret if you have assessed yourself to have a gap wider than 2.7cm. 

Studies have found that 100% of women may have some form of DRA in the third trimester. It’s important to know what exercises you need to avoid with a diastasis recti, and some exercises you can perform at home to improve the condition.

  1. Overhead Squat

Good for:

  • Correcting anterior pelvic tilt.
  • Improving shoulder mobility.
  • Increasing leg and core strength.

Steps:

  • Stand with your feet significantly wider than shoulder distance. Align your knees over your ankles and turn your toes and knees out.  Bring your arms overhead and in line with your ears.
  • Hinge from the hips and lower them down as you bend your knees. Do not let your thighs go beyond parallel with the floor.
  • Push out through your knees and keep the arches of your feet from collapsing and keep your spine neutral. 

Tip: Share this exercise with your baby! Carry your child for more resistance while you’re in this position. 

  1. Dead Bug

Good For:

  • Correcting anterior pelvic tilt.
  • Improving core stability.
  • Strengthening gluteal and spinal erector muscles.

Steps:

  • Lie on your back and extend your arms and legs. Bend your legs such that your shins are parallel with the floor. Align the knees above the hips and the arms over your shoulders.
  • Maintaining contact between the floor and your lower back, extend your right leg and left arm toward the floor.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Tip: Share this exercise with your baby! Let your child rest on your chest while you’re in this position. 

  1. Kneeling Psoas Stretch

Good For:

  • Stretching the hip flexor and psoas.

Steps:

  • Kneel in a shallow lunge position with the front knee bent and toes pointed forward. Lower the back foot and knee. Both legs should be bent at 90 degrees.
  • Tuck your pelvis under and rotate your torso slightly toward the front knee.
  • Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. 

Tip: Place a towel or cushion beneath the back knee for more cushioning.  

  1. Side Plank

Good For: 

  • Strengthening the oblique muscles.

Steps:

  • Lie on one side with your forearm on the floor beneath your shoulders. Stack the hips and extend your top arm towards the ceiling or place it on your hip.
  • Keeping the feet flexed and stacked, lift your hips off the mat so that your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  • Contract your core to maintain the alignment and hold it for 30 seconds (or more).
  • Repeat on the other side.

Tip: Lower the knees down if it is too intense. 

  1. Leg Lifts

Good For:

  • Strengthening the rectus abdominis.

Steps:

  • Sit with your knees bent and hands slightly behind your hips. Hold a stability ball between your feet. 
  • Maintaining a neutral spine, lean back on your hips slightly and elevate your feet off the mat.
  • Extend your legs until they are straight and your body forms a “V” shape.
  • Lower your legs slowly and with control. Repeat 5 times (or more).

If DRA troubles you or you are unable to exercise safely, consider our High Intensity Electromagnetic Therapy which stimulates muscle contractions without compromising the affected area. This treatment is proven to safely and effectively reconstruct the muscles through a positive influence on our tissues.

Stress Incontinence

Incontinence is often a sign of pelvic floor weakness. Weakness generally occurs through pregnancy due to the pressure of the baby against the pelvic floor. When strength is not regained, women may start to experience additional symptoms such as lower back pain, constipation, sexual discomfort and long-term colon damage. 

Here are some pelvic floor strengthening exercises to practise at home!

  1. Garland Squat

Good for:

  • Stretching the groin, lower back, sacrum and hips.
  • Toning the belly.

Steps:

  • Step your feet slightly wider than hip distance and point the toes out. Bend the knees deeply and sink down until the hips come below your knees and a few inches off the ground.
  • Wedge your elbows to the inner thighs/ knees and place your palms together. Create resistance by pushing the elbows into the knees and the knees back into the elbows.
  • Keep lengthening the spine as you inhale and lowering the hips as you exhale. 
  • Hold for 30 seconds (or more).

Tip: Place a rolled up towel beneath the heels if they can’t touch the ground. Sit the hips onto a block if you experience pressure in the knees. 

  1. Wall Squat

Good For:

  • Increasing strength in the core and quadriceps.

Steps:

  • Stand with your back against the wall and your feet hip-width distance. 
  • Slowly walk your feet away from the wall and lower your hips until the thighs are parallel with the floor.
  • Hold for 30 seconds (or more).

Tip: For more challenge, try lifting one leg up parallel to the floor. 

  1. Bridge Pose 

Good For:

  • Increasing strength in the gluteal and pelvic floor muscles.
  • Improving core strength and stability.
  • Stretching the neck, spine and thighs. 

Steps:

  • Lie on the back with your knees bent and heels close to your glutes.
  • Tuck your pelvis under as you lift your hips and contract the gluteal muscles and rectus abdominis.
  • Imagine tilting your pelvis up and back toward an imaginary point behind your head. Lengthen the tailbone toward the back of the knees. 
  • Slowly extend one leg so that both thighs come parallel.
  • Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Tip: Practise Kegels with Bridge! Contract your PFM while lifting up and relax when lowering. 

  1. Reclined Butterfly Pose with Kegels

Good for:

  • Stretching the inner thighs, groins, and knees. 
  • Increasing strength and awareness in the pelvic floor.

Steps:

  • Lay down on the mat and bring the soles of your feet to touch. Rest the arms to the sides, on the hips or on the chest and belly. 
  • As you exhale, close the knees together and squeeze your pelvic floor muscles, as if to stop urinating.
  • Hold for up to 15 seconds, then release the legs and pelvic floor contraction for 10 seconds. 
  • Repeat this for at least 5 times and try to hold the contraction for longer periods as you progress. 

Tip: Share this exercise with your baby! Let your child rest on your chest while you are in this position.

  1. Legs Up The Wall

Good For: 

  • Relaxing the pelvic floor
  • Stretching the adductors, abductors and hamstrings
  • Stretching the lower back
  • Relieving swell or cramps in the feet and legs

Steps:

  • Lie down near a wall and lift the legs.
  • Slowly shimmy your hips towards the walls and walk your feet up such that your body forms an “L” shape.
  • Stay in the pose for 60 seconds (or more).
  • Slowly draw the legs out to the sides and stay for another 60 seconds (or more).

Tip: Place a block or bolster beneath your sacrum/ lower back for extra support and a mild back bend.

The Value of Self-Care

Although  common, DRA and Incontinence are not the only issues that trouble mummies after pregnancy. Other conditions include Constipation , Pain and Organ prolapse in the pelvis, Skin laxity , Stubborn fat and Cellulite.  

Always self-monitor any conditions you have and treat them as soon as possible, either personally or professionally with us.

Taking care of yourself is not only in your personal best interest. This often extends to the people around us who are witnessing it. Inspiring such a culture in the family will be in the welfare of all members, and this is why a healthier mommy is a healthier child!

Articles that may interest you

Orchard Clinic Logo

Orchard Clinic is a specialised centre for Postnatal and Postpartum conditions, helping clients achieve healthy and pain-free lifestyles.

Address

Orchard
302 Orchard Road
Tong Building #09-01A
Singapore 238862

Kembangan
18 Jalan Masjid
Kembangan Plaza, #B1-07
Singapore 418944

E: method@orchardclinic.com
T: 65 6235 4560
: Whatsapp

Hours

Monday to Saturday9am to 6pm
Sunday & Public HolidaysClosed

© 2020 Orchard Clinic | Privacy Policy

Scroll to Top