Dr Lisa Chan on how to stay in shape post-pregnancy

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The physical changes experienced by new mothers can often be distressing. Dr Lisa Chan suggests some therapies to address them.

Pregnancy is a time of transformation and anticipation, but the postnatal period can be difficult as mothers adjust to the way their bodies have changed. The top four concerns that new mums bring to me include:

Stretch marks: Also known as striae gravidarum, stretch marks can form over the abdominal, buttock and breast areas during pregnancy. Rapid weight gain and stretching of the skin can result in dermal tears, which can become discoloured and atrophic. Stretch marks are notoriously difficult to treat, but a combination of peeling creams, microdermabrasion, light and laser therapies can help improve and minimise their appearance.

Sagging of abdominal skin: After giving birth, the skin over the belly can look saggy or loose, especially if there’s been excessive or sudden weight gain during the pregnancy. Regular cardiovascular and core muscles-trengthening exercises can create a more toned abdominal area. For targeted treatment, ultrasound, radiofrequency and electromagnetic energy-based devices help boost collagen production, reduce fat and enhance muscle defi nition. In severe cases, surgical removal of excess
skin may be considered.

Postpartum incontinence: The pressure of a growing uterus during pregnancy, vaginal or forceps-assisted delivery can all cause weakening of the bladder and pelvic floor muscles. Besides buying diapers for their baby, some new mothers may find themselves needing protective pads to deal with urine leaks. Treatment includes Kegel exercises, yoga and pilates, which help to strengthen pelvic floor muscles. There are also high-intensity electromagnetic energy-based devices that induce deep pelvic floor muscle contractions for a similar effect. Lifestyle changes, such as avoiding caffeine, alcohol and carbonated beverages, bladder training, losing weight and scheduled fluid consumption, can help. In cases where improvement isn’t seen with the above, options include devices that can be inserted into the vagina or the urethra, and surgery.

Vaginal laxity: Most new mothers will recover within six months of delivery, but with multiple vaginal deliveries or trauma during childbirth, weakening of vaginal muscle walls and chronic “looseness” can occur. This can result in reduced sensation and satisfaction during intercourse, lowered self-esteem and a drop in intimacy among partners. Besides Kegel exercises to tone up vaginal and pelvic floor muscles, newer CO2 laser, radiofrequency and electromagnetic technologies can also help stimulate vaginal tissue growth and tighten related muscles.

It’s not uncommon for new mothers to go through a period of postpartum blues. With attention to high-quality nutrition and exercise, as well as good social and medical support, mums can get back in shape in no time. Not only do these ladies deserve to look and feel their best, their energy and focus can be where it’s most needed – on the miracle of a new baby.

Follow Dr Chan on Instagram for more beauty tips and musings.

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