Guest Blog by Jen Dugard
When a woman finds out she is pregnant she almost immediately starts to gather her team. Her circle of trusted friends and professionals that will help her through her pregnancy and into motherhood. There are the more obvious team members; her partner (first in line!), then there is usually a trusted friend who already has a baby, is pregnant at the same time or is just so super excited for her that she practically does all the research on her behalf. Her GP, obstetrician and/or midwife, maybe the local baby shop that she trusts to ensure she is kitted out with everything she needs; and then she may consider another health professional like a counsellor to help her on her way.
It’s at this point I would like to raise my hand on the behalf of all of the specialised Women’s Health Physiotherapists out there and tell you why, I believe, that every single pregnant and postnatal woman should have one as part of their team.Your Pelvic Floor will love you for it! I will go into further details, but if you take nothing more away from this know that you absolutely cannot properly look after your pelvic floor to the best of your ability without the help of a women’s health physio.
A correct Pelvic Floor exercise is lift – therefore an incorrect one is bearing down. There really is no way that you can ensure that you are doing it properly without having an assessment. This may be using Real Time Ultrasound or, through an internal examination. I know that this may not sound super appealing, but I’d much rather a little (more) discomfort now than to be staring down the barrel of incontinence at 55 due to 100’s of incorrect pelvic floor exercises – you could be creating a problem that wasn’t there before.
When your pelvic floor doesn’t work properly the bedroom suddenly gets less fun – I know that as a pregnant or new mum getting down and dirty might be the last thing you are thinking of right now but imagine your dismay when you do finally break the ice, that things, post-bub, don’t seem to be quite as they once were. You need a properly functioning pelvic floor to achieve an orgasm – a valuable ‘a-ha’ moment for a client of mine who had no idea this was the cause but who hasn’t looked back since recruiting her physio!
You NEED eyes on the inside – You will either want to continue exercising through your pregnancy or there will come a time post-bub where you are ready to get back into it and we need to know what is going on, on the inside. You may choose to go it alone or recruit the help of a Personal Trainer or training group. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter how amazing you or your trainer are, you cannot properly prescribe exercise to a mum without knowing what her pelvic floor is doing. Yes, there are a number of supposedly ‘safe’ exercises for pre/postnatal but just like every pregnancy is different, so is every pelvic floor, and one that has a great lift tone and less endurance needs to be looked after quite differently than one that has more endurance but a small lift. Not to mention one with any sign of a prolapse. You need to know the details if you want to get it right!
They can make sure all your effort is worthwhile – unfortunately there are some things that re-training and re-building can’t fix. We truly believe that surgery should be the last resort for anyone but sometimes gaining a definitive answer to what is happening with your body can save everyone a lot of energy and distress. Things like a levator avulsion (where part or all of the pelvic floor muscles are pulled off the pubic bone) cannot be fixed. But knowing this is what is happening to you and why no matter how many pelvic floor exercises you do you see no improvement can enable you to work to ensure the best possible outcome for you.
So you see, in my opinion, here are many things that we just can’t completely be aware of without the help of a Women’s Health Physio and for us at Body Beyond Baby, our mums and our team the information they give us is invaluable when we are prescribing the best possible exercise to both our pregnant and postnatal mums. We recommend that you see a physio during pregnancy and following. If you are reading this article and would like to find out more either for yourself or a friend I would love to help. We produce a complimentary ‘Fit and Healthy Pregnancy’ email with week-appropriate information from myself and our specialist team. We also offer a Body Beyond Baby exercise program click here and we will be in touch. I look forward to supporting you on your pregnancy and postnatal journey. With the correct support I know you have the potential to become stronger and fitter than ever before AS WELL as being a mum!
Jen Dugard is a highly motivated mother of two, fitness specialist and author thrives on showing all mums that they can put themselves first and achieve both the body and lifestyle of their dreams. Jen’s message on exercise as a mum is simple: “you must take the time to re-build from the inside out to become stronger, fitter and more confident that you have ever been”. To find out more about Jen Dugard visit www.jendugard.com
Ginny Lindsay is a Sydney based relationship counsellor and psychotherapist who supports individuals and couples moving from pregnancy into parenthood. With 40% of divorces happening during pregnancy or in the first 3 years of a child’s life, Ginny established From 2 to 3 to offer support early before a relationship breaks down.