You've had your baby! Congratulations mama! It's safe to say that the first few days/weeks/months have all been a bit of a blur as you get to grips with your new life.
It's also highly likely that you've noticed a few changes to your body, post-birth. Pregnancy, birth and the post-natal period put your body under a huge amount of stress and recovery can take time. The problem that can sometimes occur is that certain changes are missed or written off as 'normal' leading to long term complications and concerns. The best way to ensure your body is healthy and strong post birth? A check up with a women's physio. Read on to find out why.
The traditional 6 week check
The majority of women will have a 6 week check with their primary caregiver or GP. At this appointment your doctor will usually check your uterus to ensure that it has contracted, assess any stitches/your C-section scar, chat with you about blood loss and generally check in about your health and mental wellbeing. You may also have a pap smear or any other tests that are due.
While this appointment addresses the top-line health concerns, there are others, like your pelvic floor health, incontinence issues, abdominal separation (diastasis recti) and other bladder and bowel issues that may only be touched on, if mentioned at all. This is why seeing a specialist women's health physio is so important. "Women's health physiotherapists will not just check your wounds or scars, they will assess your muscle function (specifically of the core and pelvic floor),"says specialist pelvic floor physio Laura Callea AKA Physio Laura. "They will be able to assess you for prolapse or other pelvic floor dysfunction and help tailor a management plan to see you return to pre-pregnancy exercise and activity."
We spoke to Laura about the 3 key reasons every woman should book an appointment with a women's health physio.
Image source: Urban Hatch
1. They can thoroughly assess how your body is recovering
"A women's health physio will thoroughly assess your post-partum recovery," says Laura. "They won't just clear you "medically" but will make sure your muscular and nervous system is recovering well and ready to take on the new demands of motherhood."
Pregnancy and new motherhood can have a lasting impact on your body, especially your abdomen and pelvic floor. Your physio will fully assess your abdominal separation and give you tailored core exercises to help improve your core function. They will also assess any lifestyle risk factors you may have, such as constipation and give you a great management plan to deal with this.
Image source: Pulse Physiotherapy and pilates
2. They are the pelvic floor experts
We probably don't need to tell you this but your pelvic floor really cops a beating during pregnancy and childbirth (yes, even for c-section mamas). And it's very difficult to assess the strength and function of your pelvic floor without consulting an expert. A women's health physio is able to thoroughly assess the health of your pelvic floor through an internal examination and/or real time ultrasound. "An internal vaginal exam is one of the best ways to assess pelvic floor strength and function," says Laura. "It allows us to visualise the vaginal walls and palpate the muscles so that we have a thorough understanding of your situation." If an internal exam is too uncomfortable, there are other options that can be used such as real time ultrasound.
Women who have had a c-section often wonder if they have the same need to see a physio as a woman who gives birth vaginally. The answer to that question is a resounding YES from Laura. "Pregnancy in itself is a risk factor for pelvic floor dysfunction due to the added weight on the pelvis combined with hormonal ligament laxity," she says. "So pelvic floor issues can still arise in those women who have C-sections." A women's physio can also assess your scar tissue, diastasis recti and abdominal strength so that you can start a tailored exercise rehab plan after surgery.
3. They can help you return to exercise safely
Seeing a women's physio is a great place to start when planning your return to more structured exercise. A check up will involve a detailed chat about your pregnancy, birth and recovery to help identify any risk factors that may affect how your body recovers. During your appointment you can also chat about your exercise plans." Often we can provide you with a tailored post-partum pilates program and/or classes to help you regain strength and mobility in a safe and appropriate way after birth," says Laura. "We can also discuss your goals and what you are hoping to achieve so that we can tailor our treatment plan to suit you specifically."
To find a women's physio in your area, visit https://choose.physio/find-a-
You can check out Physio Laura at her website where she offers practical advice, resources and online courses for a happy, healthy pregnancy, birth and recovery.
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