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Breastfeeding and Restoring Your Pelvic Floor

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Breastfeeding and Restoring Your Pelvic Floor
1 August 2018 159 Views

The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) is celebrating World Breastfeeding Week this week (1-7th August). Their aim being to protect, promote and support breastfeeding worldwide.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) writes: "In a world filled with inequality, crises and poverty, breastfeeding is the foundation of lifelong good health for babies and mothers. The slogan of World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) 2018 is Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life."

Not only is breastfeeding amazing for your baby; protecting them against infection and some diseases, you benefit as well. Breastfeeding is known to lower your risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, suffering from cardiovascular disease, obesity and osteoporosis (weak bones).

Breastfeeding and Incontinence

Throughout pregnancy and during vaginal childbirth, your pelvic floor muscles go through a lot.

The extra weight of your baby will weaken them, your hormones tell them to relax (often beyond their natural ability to rebound), and labour strains them. Unfortunately, this often leads to new mums developing urinary incontinence.

But it doesn't stop there. Once you begin breastfeeding your new baby, you will experience a natural drop in oestrogen. This can make urinary incontinence even more severe.

How Can I Help My Pelvic Floor?

The best thing you can do for yourself and your child, is do your Kegel (pelvic floor) exercises as you breastfeed. It's a great time to remember to do them, and won't disturb your baby.

You may be sore and feel quite delicate soon after giving birth, making Kegel exercises a challenge. But by the last visit from your midwife you should be able to complete a solid series of squeezes. If you use a Kegel8 electronic pelvic toner, speak with your midwife about when to begin using it again. We recommend waiting until after your 6 week midwife appointment.

Taking vitamin D supplements can also be beneficial to both you and your baby. Most women's breast milk is deficient in vitamin D. Therefore the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommend taking 10 micro grams of vitamin D daily whilst you breastfeed, providing your baby with a good source. Vitamin D also helps strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and protects them against degradation. Reducing your incontinence.

Free Prescriptions for 1 Year For New Mums

Throughout your pregnancy and up to your child's first birthday, new mums receive free prescriptions on the NHS.

This is great news as our set of 3 Kegel8 Vaginal Cones are available on prescription. Place them into the vagina and squeeze against them to enhance your exercises. Progress from the largest and lightest cones, up to the smallest and heaviest. The Kegel8 Vaginal Cones have a unique indicator tail. As you squeeze and lift your pelvic floor, the tail will bob downwards. This ensures you are making the correct movement and not accidentally bearing down on the pelvic floor which can cause further damage.

Speak to your doctor about getting your free Kegel8 Vaginal Cones.

Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression

Most women are eager to breastfeed their baby, but this isn't always possible. Combine these issues with the lack of sleep every new mum gets, and you are vulnerable to developing postpartum depression and anxiety.

If you are concerned, speak to  your GP or health visitor. They can offer counselling, access to peer support groups and medication where necessary. You can read more about postnatal depression on the Mind website.

Sources

[1] Breastfeeding Foundation of Life (2018) Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life [online]. WABA [viewed 30/07/2018]. Available from http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/

[2] World Health Organization (2018) World Breastfeeding Week [online]. WHO [viewed 30/07/2018]. Available from http://www.who.int/life-course/news/events/world-breastfeeding-week-2018/en/

[3] Will Breastfeeding Affect Incontinence and Pelvic Symptoms? [online]. Available from https://www.ghs.org/upload/docs/Health%20Care%20Services/Womens%20Health/Ever_Since_I_had_my_baby.pdf

[4] National Health Service (2016) Are pregnant women entitled to free NHS perscriptions?[online]. NHS [viewed 30/07/2018]. Available from https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/pregnancy/are-pregnant-women-entitled-to-free-nhs-prescriptions/

[5] National Health Service (2016) Pregnancy and Baby Guide [online]. NHS [viewed 30/07/2018]. Available from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/your-body-after-childbirth/

[6] Postpartum Progress (2018) Sleep Management, Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression [online]. Postpartum Progress [viewed 30/07/2018]. Available from http://www.postpartumprogress.com/sleep-management-breastfeeding-postpartum-depression

[7] MGH Center for Women's Mental Health (2011) Postpartum Depression and Poor Sleep Quality Occur Together [online]. Massachusetts General Hospital [viewed 30/07/2018]. Available from https://womensmentalhealth.org/posts/postpartum-depression-and-poor-sleep-quality-occur-together/

[8] NCT (2018) Postnatal Depression [online]. NCT [viewed 30/07/2018]. Available from https://www.nct.org.uk/parenting/postnatal-depression#seeking-help

[9] MIND (2018) Postnatal Depression and Perinatal Mental Health [online]. MIND [viewed 30/07/2018]. Available from https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/postnatal-depression-and-perinatal-mental-health/#.Wz9EN9JKi70

[10] Department of Health Queensland Government (2018) Breastfeeding: good for Baby, good for Mum [online]. DoH [viewed 30/07/2018]. Available from https://www.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/161039/good_for_baby_mum.pdf

[11] Unicef (2017) Vitamin D Supplementation for Breastfed Babies [online]. Unicef [viewed 30/07/2018]. Available from https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2017/01/Vitamin-D-supplementation-for-breastfed-babies-Unicef-UK-Statement.pdf

[12] Sharma, S. et al. (2017) Vitamin D and Pelvic Floor Disorders [online]. Journal of Midlife Health [viewed 30/07/2018]. Available from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5625572/

Posted in: Womens Health