Vaginal Deliveries

Recovery time from a vaginal delivery is usually shorter than the recovery time from a Cesarean section. But sometimes it can take a while, especially if you’ve experienced any lacerations or tears.

The perineum, or the region between the vagina and rectum, is vulnerable to tearing during delivery. Some studies show that women are more likely to tear during their first vaginal delivery, probably because this is the first time the area has been stretched to that degree. But whether it’s your first or your tenth, delivery technique can make a huge difference. One study revealed that if normal, spontaneous vaginal deliveries are unrushed and occur in a controlled setting with a nurse, doctor, or midwife guiding the pushing process, there is a lower risk of obstetrical trauma. Many health experts recommend perineal massage in the weeks prior to delivery as a way to lower the chances of tearing. Unfortunately, some women experience tears despite their own best efforts and the efforts of their health care professional.

Tears and Lacerations

Tears and lacerations vary in severity and are classified accordingly:

• First-degree tears are surface tears that involve the skin of the perineum and the vaginal connective tissue, usually near the vaginal opening. No muscles are involved. Healing time for first-degree tears is rapid, and women usually experience little discomfort. Stitches may or may not be required.

• Second-degree tears are deeper tears that involve the skin, connective tissue, and underlying muscles. Second-degree tears almost always require stitches, and healing time can vary. Most often, the stitches will dissolve on their own. Some women report feeling fine in a matter of weeks, others complain of experiencing pain for longer periods of time.

• Third-degree tears are more severe and involve the skin, connective tissue, and the external anal sphincter muscle, the muscle that you can squeeze to stop yourself from going to the bathroom.

• Fourth-degree tears are the most severe and can involve a tear through both the internal and external anal sphincter muscles and lining of the bowel. These tears often result in the loss of anal sphincter control, as well as fecal urgency and/or incontinence.

While third- and fourth-degree perineal tears are not common, they can happen to anyone. There are a few risk factors which may increase the chances:

• Larger babies

• Occiput posterior deliveries (baby is sunny-side up, or delivered faceup, instead of facedown)

• Nulliparity (delivery of first babies)

• Extended second stage of labor, or if the pushing stage lasts longer than an hour

• Midline episiotomies — unfortunately, some women end up tearing further than the controlled incision

• Forceps delivery

Third- and fourth-degree lacerations can be extremely painful and may interfere with all sorts of activities, including intercourse, for quite some time after delivery. Many women find going to the bathroom, especially having a bowel movement, a huge challenge. One woman with a third-degree tear told me that having bowel movements after her delivery was worse than the actual delivery itself.

The pain can persist for months after the baby arrives. A thorough follow-up is very important, so make sure that you see your health care professional several times after the delivery. Your doctor should examine the area and make sure the anorectal area is functioning properly. For many women, the pain and discomfort will subside within a few months and normal activities, including sex, can be resumed.

Some moms experience uncontrollable gas and/or fecal incontinence down the line. These problems should be brought to the attention of your physician immediately. In some cases, additional treatment may be necessary.

Episiotomies

An episiotomy is a controlled surgical incision made in the perineal area (between the vagina and rectum), prior to the delivery. In the past, the episiotomy was used routinely in order to lower the risk of vaginal tears during deliveries. But because newer studies have shown that these routine episiotomies have no real benefit for the mother, and may actually worsen the outcome and prolong healing time, episiotomies are becoming less common. In fact, several studies reveal that more severe lacerations were associated with the occurrence of an episiotomy.

Despite the new research about episiotomies, some women still get them. And it’s certainly true that in some cases, an episiotomy may be necessary, especially if the baby presents in an unusual position or is overly large; it may also be necessary if the doctor needs to speed up the delivery for health or medical reasons pertaining to the mom and/or the baby.

Recovery from an episiotomy is a lot like the recovery from a tear; it all depends on the extent of the cut or laceration. For most women, the pain and tenderness will subside significantly in one to two months. If a woman experiences a serious tear in addition to the surgical incision, recovery time may be prolonged.

C-section

The recovery from a Cesarean section, or the delivery of a baby through an abdominal incision, varies from woman to woman. In general, recovery time tends to be longer than the time it takes to recover from a normal, vaginal delivery, unless, of course, a severe tear or laceration is involved.

Right off the bat, the incision site will most likely be sore, although some women report that their incision feels numb and tingly. The pain will gradually subside and the numbness should lessen as well (although I’ve spoken to a few women who never fully regained total sensation in that area). Many women also complain of itchiness around the scar during the healing process. If the itchiness becomes intolerable, speak with your health care provider for options. Some doctors will recommend soothing creams, but others do not, so it’s important to get his/her opinion.

Some women who have had a C-section complain of cramps caused by the buildup of gas in the abdomen after surgery. Walking around or light exercise can help. This will usually go away within the first few days post-surgery, but it can linger, especially if you are not moving at all. Speak with your health care professional if it becomes a problem.

Don’t be shocked by the way the incision looks! For many women, seeing a dark red scar on the abdomen can be upsetting. But remember, it fades with time (and will likely look a whole lot better in six to eight weeks) and most doctors make the incision low enough that your pubic hair will eventually cover it.

Certain activities may be difficult right after a C-section; even coughing, sneezing, and laughing can be uncomfortable. Lifting anything heavy is out of the question, and it will be a while before you can have sex again. You also may need to wait to drive a car, especially if you experience pain buckling your seat belt or getting in and out of the car. Getting up and moving are important parts of the healing process, but you shouldn’t expect to run a marathon.

Here’s a good piece of advice: Don’t overdo it! Oftentimes, women don’t seem to realize that they have just had major abdominal surgery and they feel frustrated that they are unable to move around freely or lift heavy things. One woman I spoke to complained that the stairs in her house posed a major challenge. Another woman was upset that she was in too much pain to be able to cook for her older child. It normally takes an average of six to eight weeks to recover completely from a Cesarean, and for some women it can take several months.

Here are a few more tips to help speed your recovery from a C-section:

• Accept help. As simple as it sounds, it can make a world of difference. Many women are used to doing everything themselves. But this is not the time to be superwoman. Husbands, siblings, parents, friends, and even in-laws make great helpers. If they offer, take them up on it!

• Take it nice and slowly. Many women feel okay by that six-to-eight-week mark, but if you’re not among them, don’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable. Overexerting yourself can actually prolong the healing process.

• Don’t neglect your bowels. If you’re taking pain medications, be aware that certain types can cause constipation, which in itself can become a serious problem. Make sure that your bowel movements are regular, and if this starts to become an issue, speak with your health care provider. Stool softeners and laxatives might be necessary.

• Accept the mess. With tons of foot traffic through your home and visits from your extended family, your house may get messy. But you’re recovering, so leave it. This is a great opportunity to ask your mother-in-law to help clean up. Even if the mess causes you stress, it’s better to leave it for someone else to handle than for you to overexert yourself. Believe me, there will be many messes in the future you can dirty your hands with!

The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Hip Exercises For Flexible Hips – Exercise Tips Guaranteed To Improve Your Health

Many hip fractures could be avoided if hip exercises were a part of any individual’s exercise routine. Hip muscles are difficult to enhance and more so than the abdominal muscles.

Hips can benefit from an exercise routine and make them more flexible in a painless fashion. Three hip flexing exercises should be a part of your daily exercise routine.

One exercise is to lie flat on the floor and then raise both your legs and arms simultaneously. Keep them in the air as long as possible. Hold this “V” position before returning to the original position, inhaling and exhaling correctly.

The next exercise would be to lie on a bench making sure your lower body isn’t on the bench. The upper body is on the bench and the lower body is on the floor. Start crunch exercises by allowing your knee and shoulders to meet halfway.

Balance is needed as you can fall off the bench when doing a crunch. This exercise is also good training for stability.

When you are riding your bike, you move your hips and legs. You can simulate this movement by lying flat on your back. Bring your right arm and left leg together, squeezing to the left. Pretend you are biking in a laying down position.

When squeezing to the right, bring your left arm and right leg to touch each other.

When doing these exercises, your abdominal muscles and hip flexibility will be noted.

It is important to make sure that you don’t strain your upper back muscles as you flex your hips and bend your knees. Breathing correctly is also very important.

Your hips will become more flexible as you perform hip exercises for hip flexibility.

Repetitions will vary on your body’s strength. With flexible hips you can manage your aerobics and resistance workouts more safely.

4 Tips To Healthy Bowel Movements That Will Optimize Your Daily Activity

Your bowel movements are excellent indicators of your overall health. Since food provides the fuel for energy production, it follows that a fully functional gastrointestinal tract is crucial. Your stomach, bowel and liver need to be in tiptop working order in order to do their job, which is extracting, processing and absorbing nutrients from your meals.

The process
Food as it is consumed is not in a state to provide energy to the body. First it must be broken down into particles small enough to cross the plasma membrane of your cells. Enzymes manufactured in the small intestine, combined with pancreatic enzymes and bile from the liver, aid in digesting proteins, carbohydrates and fats. The mix is absorbed through the intestinal wall and transported to the liver, where it is further metabolized and made available as an energy source.

The large intestine
The large intestine, which processes the residue from this procedure, is host to “good” intestinal flora such as acidophilus which help to move everything along to the rectum, stimulating defecation.

The importance of regular bowel movements
A complete and satisfying morning bowel movement is essential for optimum energy levels. A sluggish bowel creates a sluggish body, while optimal colon function prevents toxic buildup and ensures energy and vitality.

The DIGESTIVE SYSTEM uses 60-80% of the body’s energy
Consider this: 60-80% of the body’s energy is used on digestion. The remaining systems in your body, immune, respiratory, reproductive, cardiovascular, nervous, and muscular systems share only 20-40% of your total energy. So guess what happens when one or more of these systems are challenged? Your body “robs” energy from the digestive system.
This is why a digestive challenge is often the first clue that there may be a problem in another system.
Indigestion, heartburn, acid reflux, gas, food cravings, bloating and other digestive problems can indicate that the culprit is somewhere else entirely.
When the body “steals” energy from the digestive system, it can’t balance the stomach acid or produce enough enzymes for a smooth operation. Many people are unaware of this connection between the digestive system and the systems of the body.

Shape and size
As we mentioned earlier, your bowel movements are excellent indicators of your overall health.. If you have small, marble-sized movements, for example, that could mean you are dehydrated. Bowel movements need sufficient water, oil and. Sufficient water and roughage produce soft but formed bowel movements, about the size and shape of small bananas. Oil (olive oil is ideal because it helps the body in other ways, too) aids with frequency and helps prevent constipation.

4 Tips to Healthy Bowel Movements That Will Optimize Your Daily Activity
While it is beyond the scope of this article to go into specific foods that are good to eat for optimal bowel function, here are three items you should consume every day to ensure normal movements.

1 Water – eight to ten glasses a day
2 Fiber – bran cereals, whole grain products
3 Oil – olive oil on salads
4 Morning bowel movement