It takes time for your body to get back to its old self after pregnancy and childbirth, and it may never get back to its old self completely, but you can help your body to become stronger and more resilient. Perhaps you have noticed that something about your body doesn’t feel quite right – your stomach is soft and doughy and your posture is virtually non-existent. You may even have noticed a little bit of urine leakage every time you sneeze or laugh. And have you noticed how much of you sags? Or that extra fat that has come out of nowhere and placed itself where you least want it? All this is normal after pregnancy. However, there are some symptoms you shouldn’t ignore and you should seek help if they don’t go away in the first year after giving birth.

Many of us have felt or feel this way after our births, but apart from the purely aesthetic changes, you may also experience various types of aches and pains. Here are some of the common complaints you should be aware of and how you can alleviate them with various tips, but please have a check-up if symptoms persist.

Pelvic pain: It’s normal to feel your pelvis this close to giving birth. This is due to the hormone relaxin, which makes it possible to carry and give birth to the baby. Relaxin can remain in the body for up to 3 months after the end of breastfeeding. If you experience severe discomfort during exercise, my advice is to use a pelvic belt, a regular wide resistance band or a scarf during exercise or when you are out walking. Pay extra attention to your technique during your workouts. That’s what you can do to help in the beginning.

Shin splints: You may find that you start to feel pain in your lower legs. Your body may be unaccustomed to long walks and your legs may become inflamed, but it could also be because your glute muscles are not working properly. And glutes are one of those areas new mothers need to work on extra hard. My advice here would be to not start walking too early and not increase the duration too quickly. Take one week at a time and increase the duration by 10-15 minutes per week. You should also start an exercise programme that focuses heavily on activating your glutes.

Sensitive wrists: If your wrists are a problem, hold the pram handle from underneath or the sides, that way your wrists will be straight and stabilised. If you do push-ups or diagonal leg lifts – do them on your fists. Make sure you turn your hands towards one another and keep your wrists straight.

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS): It is quite common for pregnant and breastfeeding women to experience numbness in their thumb, index, middle and ring fingers. CTS is caused by the median nerve in the carpal tunnel of the wrist becoming pinched, usually due to fluid retention. For exercises performed on all fours, you can either use your fists, or hold square dumbbells, just like for sensitive wrists – see the text above. In everyday life, think about how you place your hands: a good tip is to place your hands on the sides of the pram handle and not in front of you. The same goes for when you drive.

Urine leakage – common but not normal. Urine leakage is due to having weakened core function, including the pelvic floor, as both are stretched during pregnancy and childbirth. If you continue to pee yourself after the first year of motherhood, seek help!

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