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Thursday, 22 August 2013

Post Pregnancy Body Woes: Pelvic Floor & Stretch Marks

It may have been 17 months since I gave birth, but the pregnancy has still left its mark on my body, both inside and out!
To be fair I've not exactly been racing to get fit, and I've not spent hours preening myself with various products to help get me back to my former, less wrinkled, chubby and soft-skinned self, but surely that's to be expected when you are a single, working, first-time mum?!

As the months have rolled on, I've kept telling myself (and anyone who will listen) that I'm sick of my weight, my stretch marks and my now mutilated bladder, and I'm fed up of hearing myself make false promises like; "My diet will start tomorrow", and "I will do my pelvic floor exercises three times a day starting today".

I'm also starting to notice my favourite excuses ("I've just had a baby"/ "It's baby weight" / "I'm always exhausted") are now passing their sell by dates, and it's time to take action, so here's my recent attempts:

Weight

The baby weight is pretty easy in theory: I need to stop eating junk, reduce my portions and move about a lot more. When he was a few months old I did join a local slimming club for a couple of months and managed to lose over a stone. However, the weekly cost of it added more stress, as well as getting a sitter for the evening weigh-ins, and don't get me started on having to keep check on what foods I was and wasn't allowed to have each day. I've never been a fan of calorie counting or being told to stick to certain foods on your 'red' and 'green' days, as I get bored of it and get irritated of having to do so much daily planning.
 




A life coach would say that you need to set yourself realistic goals that you know you can achieve, so that once you start completing these goals, you get more confident and are then able to reach higher.

I'm going to take it in small steps and just look at eating more healthily in general as opposed to being on a 'diet'. I shall be attempting a weekly food menu (to avoid buying junk during my weekly shop) and trying to go out for more walks / park fun with my boy before the summer weather leaves us. I'm also going to set a small goal of doing a workout DVD twice per week.

I will blog about it as a way to keep motivated, so watch this space!


Pelvic Floor

I was a good girl through my pregnancy: - I made sure I did the 'clench' exercises 3 or 4 times a day, and when Chunk was first born I did it everytime he had a feed (so they got into quite good condition at that point!). But as he has gotten older and his milk intake has decreased, I keep forgetting to do it and have become the old girl that needs to pee every 30 minutes!

I've done some research and obtained two products to try and help me:

Aquaflex: Weighted Vaginal Cones, by Neen

aquaflex vaginal weightsI spotted these being tested on Channel 4's 'Embarrassing Bodies', and liked how easy they looked to use.
They are designed by physicians and physiotherapists, and consist of two cones (starter size and advanced size) and a set of weights. You can start without the weights, which is what I did, and when it feels too easy, you add some of the weights, and as the muscles strengthen, you can increase the weights. The cone is placed inside the vagina and your muscles apparently contract around it, so in theory you don't have to do anything, which is always a plus in my book!

It does come with instructions which were vital for me, as it took me a few times before I worked out where exactly it had to be placed without it falling straight back out! It claims that you will see results within 12 weeks if you use it 20 minutes per day. I am not at the level of being able to do it for 20 minutes, but will keep at it and then post again to convey my progress!

I really love the weights, because you have something to keep motivated to continue and work towards, and it helps to show you how strong your muscles are getting.

Medic Tone 'n' Control by Keygal
pelvic floor equipmentI chose this pelvic floor toner too, because this one is travel-friendly!
It is described as an exerciser that offers "active and passive toning" to help reduce risks of pelvic prolapse and stress incontinence- and it can even be used in the gym!

It comes in a cute, drawstring bag and instructions, and it even has a helpline that's open 24/7 in case you are unsure how to use it, which is handy for someone like me!

This toner is also inserted like the one above, and it is designed so you can have it inserted whilst playing high impact sports; These days I'm scared to do things like star jumps, using trampolines and running due to my bladder, so I may now start trying to do these again.

Stretch Marks

I used Bio Oil twice a day during the pregnancy, as I was so scared of getting huge stretch marks across my stomach like I have seen some mums have been lumbered with. Unlike other oils I've , it's not greasy and does leave my skin feeling soft, and I think it did really help my baby bump avoid too many battle scars.
bio oil skincare stretch marks

Throughout my pregnancy I didn't notice any new stretch marks (I already had a few from my yo-yo weight gain/losses over the years). It was only in the final few weeks when I was HUGE that I started to see some bright pink lines appear, and once I had given birth I noticed them even more.

Since the birth I've become so rubbish with daily moisturising routines, and have noticed a decline in my skin. The stretch marks haven't faded, which is probably down to not continuing to use the oil. This week I've started to use it again, and I'm also trying it on a few scars I have on various other parts of my body, as it apparently improves the appearance of all scars, stretch marks and uneven skin tone.

My hands have dried out so much since becoming a mum; I don't know if this is down to how much more washing up, cleaning, wiping up and work my hands now do, mixed in with the fact that I don't remember to moisturise them some days! Luckily I noticed on the Bio Oil box the other day that it also helps ageing and dehydrated skin, so I may need to start getting the bigger bottles as it looks like my whole body is going to be doused in the stuff daily!
 

I will keep you updated on how all these things are going, and whether or not I am getting back to my pre-pregnancy inner and outer self!

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