Congratulations! If you are reading this, you have survived all the glamour of pregnancy, experienced the truly glitzy red carpet experience of birth (ha!), and are probably in depths of the sleep deprived glory of motherhood. You might even be reading this on your phone during a 3am feed. Welcome to the hood!
You’ve been through a lot. Even though your whole world now rotates around your little bundle of you, its important you take a couple of steps to take care of yourself too. Those are:
- Grab yourself a hot coffee (lol let’s get real – it will be luke warm) and
- Book an appointment to check your pelvic floor. Yes, it’s a must. Read on and let me explain why.
Regardless of the mode of delivery (vaginal, assisted, or C-section) a 6 weeks postnatal check with a women’s health physio is a MUST (and that’s in addition to the 6 week check up you’ll have with your OBGYN).
Why do I need to?
The pelvic floor muscles can stretch up to 300% their resting length during the precess of a vaginal birth. This is the only muscle in the body that can stretch this much! With this much sttrreeetch, it is so vital that you allow time for this group of muscles to rest and recover. If you are also recovering from a tear, episiotomy, assisted (ventouse aka vacuum, forceps) or caesarean delivery, then your recovery and rehabilitation time is amplified.
But what if I feel fine?
It is important for everyone to have a check-up regardless of symptoms or lack thereof. Research has shown that many women with obstetric anal sphincter tears may be asymptomatic so assume they don’t need follow up. However, statistics show there is an increased risk of bladder and bowel dysfunction later in life if the pelvic floor function has not been addressed and correctly rehabilitated in the postnatal period.
You may be just fine now. Laughing, running and sneezing without leaking – how fantastic. Or maybe you are leaking a bit… but so is everyone else you know, so no big deal, right?! WELL it is a big deal. Leaking urine, even a little bit is not a symptom of motherhood it’s a symptom of pelvic floor dysfunction and not something you should just put up with. Leaking (stress urinary incontinence) is extremely treatable. So let’s get this sorted now before menopause comes along and due to hormonal changes the bladder control issues become bigger ones.
What happens at a 6 week physio check up?
In addition to assessing your pelvic floor, your abdominal wall (tummy) will also be checked. We see whether you have Diastasis Rectus Abdominis (DRA or “ab separation” as it’s often referred to), teach you how to self assess the gap, and correctly contract your abdominal muscles. If you want to know about this click here.
I had my baby years ago… am I too late?!
Now for those out there who are just getting a moment to yourself a few years postnatally, that’s okay too! Please do not stress – you have not missed the boat. Please make an appointment as there’s not better time to start that the present.