A common mistake to make is to underestimate the changes your body has gone through during your pregnancy and post-partum period. Because every mum has been through it, right? Not exactly. Your lower back, core and pelvic floor all need special attention when recovering from pregnancy & childbirth. The incidence of symptomatic or asymptomatic pelvic organ prolapse is 50% after having children – that is heartbreakingly high for what is, in many cases, a completely preventable condition.
Frustratingly we hear lots of stories about women who have sought advice about dealing with this from friends / family / in some cases health care professionals, and are told “what do you expect after you have children?”. The truth is lifelong changes to your body are not inevitable, you should not accept prolapse or incontinence as normal.
For those women who do have vaginal prolapse, 63% of those will experience urinary incontinence. The effects of this can be completely life-changing, but it is not something that is commonly discussed. 36% of women have diastasis rectus abdominis (tummy muscle separation) at 8 weeks post-delivery. Again, the long-term effects of not dealing with this can be massive (lower back / hip pain, incontinence, bloating, constipation, I could go on) but it’s not something that has very good awareness in the general public. 1 in 5 women have pain during sex after childbirth, which can have huge knock on effects for your intimate relationships- this is also something you don’t have to just accept.
Statistics like these don’t lie – pregnancy & childbirth is something that we need to rehabilitate properly from. It is a true test of human endurance and I don’t think you should be left to pick up the pieces and guess where to put them back on your own. Returning to exercise is of course important and highly encouraged, but caution is required. No matter how fit & strong you were before or during your pregnancy, whether you have new symptoms or not, you need to spend time rebuilding the foundations of your core & pelvic floor prior to a graded return to exercise. Research has shown us that this dramatically reduces your chances of urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse later down the line – what could be worth more investment than that?
A Mummy MOT is a specialist examination that has been specifically designed to screen for all these common post-partum conditions, and can be performed from 6 weeks post-delivery (and there is no upwards limit on time since delivery- we can advise you if a Mummy MOT is suitable, years down the line). The important thing to note is this assessment is completely individual to you, as we consider all the factors during your pre-pregnancy history, pregnancy, childbirth(s) that may be contributing to your well-being and recovery. We assess posture and pelvic alignment, perform functional movement tests to assess your “core”, and an internal examination to assess the condition and function of your pelvic floor.
Whatever your goals are; return to running, start jiu-jitsu, leave the house to go shopping without wearing incontinence pads – we will help you get there with a tailored treatment & rehabilitation programme. Looking after your body and well-being is vital so that you can be there for your family - and this means putting yourself first sometimes, something new mums are notoriously bad at!