Many thanks to Grainne from Absolute Physio in Fermanagh for providing the following guest post for us on the benefits of having a mummy check. After having a postnatal check with Grainne I was genuinely blown away with all the knowledge and information I left with (as well as the peace of mind from the physical check). Personally I knew I could never do the experience justice or relay the information accurately enough for you all so I asked Grainne if she would mind detailing it down so I could share on here and thankfully she kindly agreed. I honestly cannot recommend having a mummy check highly enough, we are so quick to just get on with things and then accept any future issues as ‘normal’. What Grainne is trying to achieve and educate us mummies on is that prevention, detection and if needed treatment/strengthening early on can massively reduce and prevent issues further down the line. Also if you’re anything like me and have been trying to do your pelvic floor exercises but haven’t really a clue if you’re doing them right, Grainne can test this for you too. I love that she’s trying to break down the taboos, embarrassment and secrecy associated with talking and educating us ladies on looking after our pelvic health. Grainne hasn’t written this piece as a marketing ploy and has made it very clear that she will happily provide further information to help you source your nearest pelvic health physiotherapist whether that is in the NHS or private sector so she is in no way advocating that you must see her (though I would lol). What’s more she is the loveliest girl who put me at ease straight away and a total utter professional. If nothing else … please just have a read. Even if it’s not relative to you right now it could allow you to enlighten a mummy friend, colleague or relation and we can break down the barriers together.
Did you know that 1 in 3 women will experience urinary incontinence and 1 in 2 women are at risk of developing pelvic organ prolapse (where one or more of your pelvic organs including bladder, rectum and uterus descend into the vagina). The fact of the matter is that both of these statistics are likely underestimated given that many women continue to suffer in silence. They are examples of the common but not normal issues that women can experience following pregnancy and childbirth. Other issues include bowel urgency/incontinence, constipation, painful intercourse and abdominal muscle separation, otherwise known as Diastasis Recti.
There is so much pressure on new mums now-a-days to “snap back” and get into shape after having a baby. Many social media feeds create unrealistic expectations of what is normal. As a mother of 3 I know how much temptation there is to jump back into high intensity exercise too soon in a quest to get back into shape. It may surprise you to learn that the risk of developing pelvic health issues such as incontinence or prolapse is almost 4.5 times higher when we carry out high intensity versus low intensity exercise.
All too often I see women after pelvic health issues have already set in. And while there is so much that physiotherapy can offer at that stage, I echo their feelings when they express that they “wish they could have known the risk” before they jumped back into unsuitable forms of exercise. By the time women get to see me, or other pelvic health colleagues within the NHS, it is often months down the line due to waiting list pressures. This was the driving force behind developing the Mummy Check®. I wanted to be able to offer a service that women can access from 6 weeks post-natal without having to wait on a list. I wanted to develop a post-natal screen that could identify current weaknesses or issues before they have even become symptomatic, in a bid to implement PREVENTATIVE approaches to post-natal care. I wanted to empower women with the knowledge and awareness of what they need to be doing and how to progress safely back into exercise again. And I wanted to offer a service that can be accessed by self-referral to make it easier for women to source help.
The Mummy Check® is a comprehensive post-natal assessment of the commonly problematic areas including posture, abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles. It is tailored to each individual and their specific goals. It utilises real-time ultrasound to provide a more accurate insight and educational tool for women about their abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. Some women just want to get back to leisurely exercise whereas other Mummy’s may want to get back to high level sports such as Crossfit, gymnastics, or weightlifting. Finding out the starting level of exercise for each mum is so important and this all depends on how their abdominal and pelvic floor muscles are functioning. Even running needs to be graded into at an appropriate time as the increased load on the abdominal and pelvic floor areas can increase your risk of developing issues if you are not managing that load adequately.
At the Mummy Check® you will learn things you didn’t even know you needed to know. Pelvic health is unfortunately one of those topics that remains to be taboo. Women do not openly talk about the issues that they are all commonly facing or at risk of. Many women are afraid to seek help for issues with intercourse or pain “down there”. All this adds to the distress and fear that surrounds symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction. I want to make it clear to all women reading this that any pelvic health issues you may be experiencing are nothing that we have not heard of or treated before. Post-natal issues are nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. We would not undertake any other activity that demanded so much from our physical or mental health without preparing for it or taking the proper steps to recovery. For example, many men and women participate in marathons which involve months of preparation and often months of recovery while they seek help from the appropriate professionals to address injuries, niggles or identified weaknesses during the marathon. Women, however, undergo the amazing experience of pregnancy and childbirth but often do not access the recovery and help they need to recover.
Simple tips can make a huge difference to your post-natal quality of life and recovery. The way you sit on the toilet to open your bowels as well as knowing exactly how to do pelvic floor exercises is important. Most women enter my clinic reporting that they know exactly how to do the exercises, however on assessment at least 50% are doing them wrong or targeting the wrong muscles. Did you know that there are several different types of pelvic floor exercises that all need to be trained as they target different muscle fibers? Fast, slow and submaximal exercises need to be incorporated into your rehabilitation. If you do not know how to do this you should access a pelvic health physiotherapist to learn how.
A bespoke rehabilitation program is prescribed to each mummy following the Mummy Check® as well as information about pelvic health. The focus is arming the Mother with all the skills she needs to manage her own pelvic health. Results so far are demonstrating that when women access screening like this in the early stage of recovery they are gaining all the information and know-how to safeguard their pelvic health and prevent issues. That is why a one-off appointment is often all that is needed.
If you have any questions about the Mummy Check® or pelvic health in general please do not hesitate to get in touch. I can provide further information or help you source your nearest pelvic health physiotherapist whether that is in the NHS or private sector.
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**The Mummy Check® is a 75 minute consultation costing £125