The importance of the post-natal recovery period

You got through the pregnancy, the birth and getting home!  Now what happens?

The post-natal recovery period is often referred to as the fourth trimester.  PostHowever, not surprisingly, new mums sometimes find it difficult to find the time to take care of themselves, and also, to understand what is normal during this recovery period.  It is often a challenging time full of change, both physically and emotionally.

A number of issues may arise during the post-natal period, many of which can be helped by consulting a specialist Women’s Health Physiotherapist.

Hormonal Changes:

During pregnancy a special hormone called Relaxin increases in the mother’s body.  The role of Relaxin is to act on ligaments and muscles in the body, particularly the abdomen, hips and pelvis, in order to increase the ability of these structures to stretch and accommodate a growing baby.  Whilst these hormone levels are highest during pregnancy, it is known that they may stay elevated for up to 5-6 months following the birth, and even longer if breastfeeding.  This means that during this period, the female body will still be experiencing physiological changes outside of their normal.  You can experience ongoing symptoms of back pain, pelvic girdle pain, abdominal muscle separation and pelvic floor laxity.  It is important to understand that post-natal recovery can continue beyond 6 months and it is vital that women are supported during this time.

 Pelvic floor function:

During pregnancy, the pelvic floor muscles must support the weight of a growing baby!  Naturally, as the baby gets bigger there is an increased load going through the pelvic floor muscles.  Not only this, but during the birthing process, the pelvic floor muscles are able to stretch more than ANY other muscle in the body to allow the birth to proceed!  Considering this, it is common to experience some pelvic floor dysfunction following giving birth, regardless of the method of delivery.  You may notice issues with your bladder or bowel (loss of urine, wind or faeces) or increased frequency and urgency to go to the toilet.  If you have had stitches, there may be some ongoing discomfort and you may experience some pain with returning to intercourse.  Although these symptoms are common, it is important to reinforce that there are treatment and management options available to improve these conditions.


Breastfeeding opens up a whole new world for many new mothers.  It is a new skill that requires time and energy to develop.  One of the common barriers to breastfeeding is Mastitis.  Mastitis is defined as inflammation or infection of the breast tissue that can result in breast pain, swelling, warmth and redness.  This can be very painful for mothers and can also contribute to poor feeding.  Mastitis is most common within the first six weeks following birth, however can occur at any time during the breastfeeding period.  Physiotherapy plays a large role in education and treatment strategies including therapeutic ultrasound for Mastitis.


If you are having any issues during the post-natal recovery period please feel free to contact Clifton Hill Physiotherapy and book an appointment with one of our specialised Women’s Health Physiotherapists who are here to support you during this time of change.


Ali Harding