Pregnancy and childbirth can damage the muscles and connective tissue of the pelvic floor, causing uncomfortable symptoms for women after they give birth. Our Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist in Pelvic Rehabilitation, Debbie Fallows, explains how pelvic rehabilitation can be very helpful for new Mums.
When we reflect as new mothers on our pregnancy and birth process, some may use words like ‘empowering’, ‘beautiful’ and ‘positive’ to describe their experience. Perhaps others may feel less positive, more vulnerable, exposed or out of control. A gulf may exist between our fairytale-type expectations and the day-to-day reality of being a new Mum, and we may struggle both physically and emotionally to come to terms with our new role.
We may feel that no one prepared us adequately for the many physical and emotional issues that can arise after giving birth. Urinary leakage, a feeling of something falling down underneath, weak separated abdominal muscles, painful sex, back pain and bowel control issues, to name but a few, leave us feeling like our bodies are literally falling apart. This is in addition to the exhaustion, the fear, and anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, not to mention the isolation we often feel as new Mums.
At routine check-ups, medical professionals often fail to ask about these ‘hidden’ issues of bladder or bowel control, never mind our desire or ability to have sex again after childbirth. If we build up enough courage to ask for help, these issues are often brushed off as insignificant or inconsequential. We may begin to feel like we are in the minority and that nothing can be done to help.
Available statistics reflect a shocking picture. If you struggle with these issues, you are very much not on your own:
- 45% of women will have some degree of urinary incontinence 5 years after birth;
- 50% of all women will have some degree of pelvic organ prolapse after a vaginal delivery;
- 41% of women may experience painful sex up to 6 months after giving birth;
- Up to 8% of women will still experience pelvic girdle pain 2 years after childbirth.
A Physiotherapy-Led Pelvic Rehabilitation programme will help reduce these debilitating issues that significantly and negatively affect a women’s quality of life after childbirth. Treatment undertaken under the close supervision and guidance of a pelvic specialist physiotherapist results in women being 17 times more likely to report short-term cure or improvement in their bladder symptoms compared with women who had no treatment. (Cochrane review 2014)
At Strive Clinic, we offer one-to-one care which includes an individually prescribed pelvic floor and core muscle training programme that is safe and has no adverse side effects. Other treatments may include manual therapy and soft tissue release techniques, bladder retraining, behavioural /lifestyle modification, biofeedback and electrical stimulation.
Strive Clinic is located on Level 2 of Briarhill Shopping Centre, Briarhill, Galway (just off the M6 in Galway).