Why you need to see a Women’s Health Physio after having a baby…
Today I decided to experience first-hand an appointment with our wonderful Women’s Health Physio partner Alison from Chevron Physio. And although I was a little nervous, I was pleasantly surprised how comfortable and at ease she made me feel!
Fortunately for me, both my birth experiences went quite well and, with my exercise background, at the time I felt pretty in tune with my body so I didn’t see a WHP postnatally. But, although I didn’t have any pain related issues, I kind of wish I had gone anyway!!!
There are number of changes that happen to your body during and after pregnancy. Aside from the emotional rollercoaster, there’s postural changes, back pain, wrist swelling, abdominal separation, pelvic floor dysfunction and prolapse just to name a few.
The problem is that many of the major issues go undetected because they are either not pain driven or too embarrassing.
Pelvic floor dysfunction is one example. If it’s weak or not functioning properly it isn’t going to be painful. Things like a large baby, long pushing phase during delivery or the use of forceps can cause pelvic floor stretching, weakening or dysfunction. And sometimes those muscles can actually become hyper tonic (or really overactive and tight) like I discovered today. Mine weren’t painful but they are overly tight and if I had tried to have my babies vaginally instead of c-section, Alison advised me that I most likely would have had some major tearing!!! (Good to know!)
If your pelvic floor muscles aren’t working properly they can lead to things like:
Bladder or bowel incontinence Urinary urgency Lack of sensation or ability to orgasm Painful sex or even Prolapse
Prolapse is another condition that can go unnoticed in the early stages. It is a dropping of some or all of the pelvic organs into the pelvic cavity due to overstretched or weak pelvic floor. Sometimes it can caused by stretching of the internal ligaments. This condition again can go undetected if not assessed by a WHO and progress until the physical sensation finally triggers you to do something. But by then it can be too late to rehabilitate with exercise.
Even if your pelvic floor is fine and you ARE exercising it regularly, it’s important to note that over 50% of women who think they are doing pelvic floor lifts are actually pushing down. Bearing down only makes things worse. Another good reason to get the WHP to check your activation!
So what do we do? BE PROACTIVE!!! Get an assessment to check in on your body before it’s gone too far.
Here is what to expect at your first visit:
Your WHP will briefly go through your pregnancy and birth history for all babies, whether you had vaginal or caesarean, a long pushing phase, tearing, stitches, the weight of your baby etc. just to understand what your body has endured.
She will assess what your aim is – healing injury, improving pelvic floor, reducing prolapse, getting back to a certain sport etc.
She will check you for abdominal separation using 2 fingers on your belly above and below your navel while you lift your head. Checking for a separation of the rectus abdominals or thinning of the connective tissue. Again not pain triggered but can lead to back pain, hip pain or hernia if not treated.
This is similar but far less uncomfortable or evasive than a pap smear for sure! She will perform a gloved digital exam (one finger inserted) to feel the vaginal walls and detect pelvic floor strength and endurance. She looks for thinning of the muscles, bulges that could be prolapse, checks length that determine muscle tight or weakness. She will ask you to cough and bear down checking again for prolapse. It is definitely not as bad as it sounds. It’s all over pretty quick and you come out with information that could literally change your life!!
She will also ask you about any other pain or weakness like hips, back, neck wrists and give you some gentle exercises that may assist with your daily mummy activities.
With all of the information she will put together a rehabilitation plan or refer you onto a postnatal trainer like myself. Equipped with all of your info we can both work together to get you exercising safely and feeling wonderful in your new Mumma Life!
Christine – Mummylicious Fitness