The last thing many women consider when pregnant or just had a baby is the effect of that
pregnancy and birth on their pelvis and pelvic floor. However, both of these undergo significant changes during the childbearing year which could have long lasting effects on your quality of life.
We have all seen the adverts for Tena Lady & ‘embarrassing leaks' which tend to normalise
urinary incontinence and although leaking urine is common, it is definitely not normal, and
something can be done about it.
So often I hear stories about women avoiding bouncing on the trampoline with their children
or no longer being able to run due to fear of leaking urine, this is something you don't have to
live with - the correct physiotherapy advice and exercises can help you get back on track and
live a ‘drier’ life. Having to dash to the toilet and perhaps leaking on the way or needing to visit the toilet more often than you used to, both are signs of pelvic floor problems, as is a
persistent dragging feeling or bulge in your vagina.
The tummy muscles also take a battering during pregnancy as they stretch around your bump.
Many of you might have noticed a separation of the rectus abdominis muscle (diastasis rectis
abdominis/ DRAM) which lies at the front of your tummy, maybe a 'doming' when you sit up in
the bath, or you’ve noticed that you are not as strong as you used to be.
Given the level to which these muscles need to stretch to accommodate the growing bump,
this is a common occurrence. Often, this gap closes in the first eight weeks after you have
delivered your baby, but if you are one of the 30% of new mums whose gap remains, or you
are still struggling to lift your baby, or have a significant ' Mummy Tummy' you may benefit
from some specialist physiotherapy to help these muscles return to optimum function.
About 20% of women experience Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) during pregnancy. PGP can have a
significant impact on your quality of life while you are pregnant. It can cause pain while
walking, getting dressed or turning over in bed and daily activities such as doing the shopping, hoovering, or caring for younger children can become difficult. PGP can continue after you have had your baby, which makes caring for your new arrival and any older children difficult.
Physiotherapy can help to relieve this pain. Your physiotherapist might use some gentle pelvic
mobilising techniques to relieve the pain in your pelvis and give you some gentle targeted
exercises to help strengthen the muscles around your lower back and pelvis.
So where can I get help?
Many women don't realise that there are specialist women's health physiotherapists trained
to help with all these problems. At Chichester Physiotherapy we have a women's health
physiotherapist who has over 20 years’ experience in obstetrics & pelvic health. She is trained
to assess the pelvic floor and can sensitively guide you through an internal examination to
check your pelvic floor strength, ability to tighten & relax as well as the timing of the muscle
activation. She will then guide you through targeted pelvic floor and functional exercises to
address any problems identified with a view to meeting your chosen goals - whether they be
running a marathon or lifting your child without leaking.
Addressing the ‘embarrassing leaks’ can take a bit more than just occasionally doing a few
pelvic floor exercises, and research has shown that as many as 60% of women don't do their
pelvic floor exercises correctly!!! Many women have tried pelvic floor exercises without
success - this might be because they are not exercising correctly, or the fact that a correctly
functioning pelvic floor is not all about strength - it needs to contract & relax through the right
range and work at the right time for us to be dry! There is often more to it than just doing a
few pelvic floor squeezes!
If your problem is more Pregnancy related Low back or Pelvic pain/PGP or separation of the
stomach muscles, our Women’s Health Physiotherapist at ChiPhysio has extensive experience
in PGP and diastasis rectus abdominis rehabilitation. She uses gentle pelvic mobilising
techniques alongside targeted exercises that might include a gym ball or use of theraband to
strengthen key muscles in a progressive way to help you meet your individual goals.
You can find out more about Women’s Health Physiotherapy by clicking here.
Vanessa is also a Certified Mummy MOT Physiotherapist so check out this link to find out
about this comprehensive postnatal examination designed for women following both vaginal
and C-section deliveries. The Mummy MOT assesses how your posture, pelvic floor muscles
and stomach muscles are recovering after childbirth, it will give you advice on how to safely
return to your usual activities and exercises and you will receive a report of the findings.
You can find out more about the The Mummy MOT here.