Healthy Mom=Healthy Family

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According to the country’s Health Awareness Calendar, February is considered Reproductive Health Awareness Month. Although this conjures up ideas related to pregnancy, the prevention thereof, and birth, the period following the birth of a baby is fundamental to both the survival of the new child, but for the quality of life of the mother as well.
The rehabilitation team, particularly occupational and physiotherapists, have an integral role in the support, care and well-being of mothers and babies during the post-natal period.
Also important, but all too often neglected, challenges of motherhood, commonly addressed by rehabilitation professionals are discussed below:
Speak Up When You’re Down…Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression (PPD) is estimated to affect approximately 1 in 8 women, and can affect any woman who is pregnant, has recently had a baby, has ended a pregnancy or has miscarried, or has stopped breastfeeding. It is important to remember that PPD can appear days or even months after childbirth and is no one’s fault.
Warning signs:
•Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
•Changes in appetite.
•Not enjoying life as much as in the past
•Lack of interest in the baby, family and friends
•Feeling hopeless, guilty or worthless
•Feelings of being a bad mother
•Feeling irritable, angry or nervous
•Crying uncontrollably
•Thoughts of harming the baby or yourself
Although a family’s love and support is important and may go a long way to assisting a new mother adjust to her new life, sometimes extra help may be necessary. When symptoms last for longer than 2 weeks or affects woman’s ability to enjoy her daily life, help should be sought.
Plumbing Troubles…Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence refers to the involuntary leakage of urine associated with / without urgency and / with exertion or effort, including sneezing, coughing etc. There can also be involuntary loss of urine without exertion. Urinary incontinence is caused by the weakening of the muscles around the bladder and pelvis, which is commonly associated with pregnancy and after delivery. Urinary incontinence affects more than a third of new mothers. Although incontinence is not spoken about, there is a lot that can be done to assist to address the problem.
Exercises to fight urinary incontinence:
•Without contracting your buttocks or inner thighs, pull your pelvic floor muscles in and up (like you want to stop urine from coming out). Imagine that you are trying to hold something inside. Do not pinch your buttock muscles and remember to breathe…
•Repeat exercise 5 times, every time you feed your baby or change him/her.
•Start pelvic floor training sitting on a hard surface such as a plastic / wooden chair, then progress to standing, lying in various positions and during walking / stair climbing.
Sources:
•Recognising Postpartum Depression – Speak up when you’re feeling down, retrieved from http://www.nj.gov/health/fhs/postpartumdepression/brochures.shtml.
•Urinary Incontinence Pamphlet, compiled by E. de Jager, Physiotherapist, 2017.

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