Self-care: the buzz word that covers a whole variety of things.

Osteopath Gemma Dawson talks about taking her own advice when it comes to self-care.

When it comes to self-care what do we mean? Having a calming bath at the end of the day after wrestling toddlers into/out of wellies and coats? Taking the time to read that chapter of a book and calm your thoughts? Self-care is not just about relaxing, self-care in itself is taking care of one's own needs.

I have managed to tick the box of relaxing and finding time to think of other things, but sometimes I forget the physical element of my postnatal care, which as an Osteopath who takes a keen interest in women’s health is not the best practice for me!

If you came to me as a patient I would be advising a whole variety of exercises for breathing, pelvic floor muscles, and the back, yet lately, I have forgotten myself in all this. It’s easy to advise others but not so easy to hear and follow your own advice.

The lockdown situation has created a heap of different problems and solutions for everyone. For me, the upside has been to slow down and think of my own body and the care it needs.

The mechanism of breathing out switches on the relaxing side of the nervous system, so I began with some gentle breathing exercises. Breathing is also fantastic in aiding pelvic floor movement as well as easing tension in the rest of the body.

Next, I added in gentle exercises to help mobilise my lower back and pelvis. After a couple of days, I began to include some strengthening exercises, aiming to improve the tone of the Oblique muscles of my abdomen (the muscles at the side of the abdomen that bridge from the front to the back and provide stability) and my pelvic floor.

There was an instant change, after struggling with a slight separation of the abdominal muscles (diastasis recti) since the birth of my second child I usually find my belly is round and protruding after a long day. Alongside this, I have been stretching and releasing my back, and I am noticing that my stomach feels more comfortable for the first time in ages!

It’s the small things that make a difference and I am feeling the benefit of those changes. It hasn’t taken much, but already I feel a sense of self that has been lacking.

What do you need for your self-care?


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