I tell all the women I see in clinic, on the maternity ward or in antenatal class that it would be ideal if they came and saw me 6 weeks after the baby comes out, regardless of how they came out for a ‘6 week check’. “But I feel fine” they cry, “I’ve done this before” they say. Ah yes. I’m glad you do and that’s great but I still recommend you come and have a ‘check’ with me to make sure you hit the ground running (but don’t start running just yet).
I thought I’d write down a few words about what it is that might happen during this appointment and why it’s so important and should be a part of standard postnatal care. If you’re about to say “but my obstetrician/GP/midwife saw me at 6 weeks and said I’m all good” then that’s also great news but nevertheless come and see me or another friendly women’s health and continence physiotherapist at 6 weeks postnatal. If you’re really proactive I’d like to see you at 20 weeks gestation too. And if you’re weeks, months or years past the prescribed 6 weeks then never fear we will be happy to see you nonetheless. Having a baby makes you much more likely to suffer from prolapse or incontinence in your lifetime and we’re here to help.
Women’s health physiotherapy isn’t a new thing but it’s slow to gain ‘awareness’ with other health professionals and the general public. Which is a shame because we can be of great assistance in and around pregnancy and childbirth and are masters at demystifying the pelvic floor, where it is and just how to exercise it ‘properly’.
So what happens during this check-
- We talk through your birth and look for any specific risk factors that might predispose you to pelvic floor dysfunction such as an assisted delivery (vacuum or forceps), episiotomy, a long second stage (that’s the pushing bit), etc.
- We discuss bladder and bowel habits ensuring things are working well and addressing anything specific going on with your nether regions. This might including needing to rush to the bathroom, not being able to hold on to your wind, constipation and many more!
- We educate you on what the pelvic floor is, what it does, how to find it, what problems you might run in to due to your pregnancy such as incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, diastasis rectus (that’s the gap in your tummy muscles) and more.
- If you feel comfortable we physically check the pelvic floor and talk to you in detail about what might have changed and how that might affect you and returning to the things you love safely.
- We prescribe you exercise for the pelvic floor specific to your level and show you how to perform you exercises correctly. Consider us your pelvic floors personal trainer.
- We discuss your return to exercise goals whether they are a daily walk, caring for your children, running a marathon or playing competitive level sport. Then we specifically recommend timeframes for you returning to particular activities that are specific to you and your ‘healing’.
- We inspect healing tissue and scars, and then help you to implement any management strategies that might assist with healing.
- We discuss returning to intercourse without pain or problems and explicitly discuss time frames and strategies to assist.
So I’d love to see you at my clinic to ensure you get the best recovery possible from your pregnancy or birth. Or if you don’t live in Cairns or surrounds and would like to find a women’s health physiotherapist closer to you try https://cfaphysios.com.au/ or send me a message and I can help you track one down.