Why ALL new mums should see a Women’s Health Physio…
So you’ve made it through pregnancy and delivery and you’ve now got yourself a beautiful little munchkin of your very own. How absolutely incredible! It certainly is a wild ride with so much to take in. Of course, your little one is completely reliant on you and that is incredibly empowering (and exhausting!) however you must remember it is critical that you make time for yourself and your recovery in the early stages post partum in order to be the best mum possible and to regain a sense of you.
In Australia, unfortunately, seeing a Women’s Health Physio postnatally isn’t standard practice - At The Studio, we believe it absolutely should be. Regardless of whether you’re experiencing uncomfortable post natal symptoms or not, it’s important to get checked by a Physio specialising in Women’s Health, especially before to returning to exercise. Many women launch into exercise far too fast at the
expense of their own health, so the guidance of a professional is key. We understand the desire to get moving and to get those endorphins pumping however you only get one body and if you don’t look after it now, you will definitely pay for it down the track.
Here are our top 5 reasons why new mothers should see a Women’s Health Physio:
They consider the whole picture
A brief check by your GP, obstetrician or midwife simply isn’t enough! Your body has been put through the wringer and it need and deserves individualised consideration and care. Your doctor will mostly be concerned with the health of bub, any wounds you may be healing and your general health. Your Women’s Health Physio will complete a thorough assessment of your musculoskeletal system (muscles and bones) – specifically your pelvic floor, core and any niggles (aches and pains) you may have. Intrigued? Keep reading!
Pelvic floor assessment
We’ve all heard about the pelvic floor, but many of us aren’t sure what it actually does or how it is affected during pregnancy 🡪 Enter Women’s Health Physio’s. Whether you’ve had a vaginal delivery or a C-section, pelvic floor issues can arise due to the many months it has been put under strain due to the growing uterus, the weight of the baby, constipation troubles during pregnancy and muscle spasm associated with a painful pelvis/low back. Pelvic floor problems/dysfunction can include urinary incontinence, frequent and sudden urgency (the need to go), prolapse (movement of your pelvic organs) and sexual pain etc.
Your Women’s Health Physio can offer two options for pelvic floor assessment:
Internal assessment – the most comprehensive assessment of the Pelvic floor: your Women’s Health Physio will insert a gloved and lubricated finger into the vagina to assess the pelvic floor. The strength, ability to release, resting tone, endurance and position of your pelvic organs will be examined. This is a great way to get to know your body better regardless if you have concerns or not. This is not a painful assessment and your Physiotherapist will ensure you are completely comfortable throughout.
Real-time ultrasound external assessment: an ultrasound probe is placed over your abdomen to assess the ability of the pelvic floor to contract.
Abdominal wall assessment
One of the challenges (and natural processes) of housing a baby means our tummies have to stretch – a lot. While in a perfect world just our muscles would stretch, however in reality, for the vast majority, it is the line of connective tissue down our belly that is put under the most strain/tension - leaving us with abdominal separation.
Your Women’s Health Physio will assess the degree of separation and use real-time ultrasound to assess your core activation. It’s key you begin a tailored core rehabilitation program prior to returning to exercise to ensure you are properly activating this area without developing any incorrect recruitment patterns – which can have detrimental consequences down the track (we’re talking ongoing/worsening separation, incontinence, prolapse and pain).
Manage the aches and pains associated with being a mum
Pair the pregnancy changes with now suddenly having to lift a growing baby 100,000 times per day and breastfeeding and no wonder your body is achy, stiff and sore!
Common newbie Mum niggles include shoulder and neck pain, thoracic stiffness, lower back, wrist and knee pain. Your Women’s Health Physio will assess any areas of concern and treat as appropriate with manual therapy and exercise.
Safe return to exercise
Going too hard too fast can be detrimental to your pelvic floor and core. By the same token, not getting moving in the early stages can result in a sad, stiff, weak body that struggles to lift a growing baby and is prone to injury. The nuance of returning to exercise makes the guidance of your Physio invaluable.
Based on your assessment, your Physio will prescribe you appropriate exercise. Our Clinical Pilates classes are generally the best place to start - covering all bases. While individualised for everyone, the common pathway includes:
Nailing the basics by strengthening your deep core, glutes, lower limbs and upper body, as well as improving your back, neck, and hip mobility/flexibility – Your body must be able to move properly to activate all the right muscle groups again! Other gentle low impact exercise such as walking and can be included as appropriate.
Slow progression of your strength, stability and mobility.
Once you’re at optimal pelvic floor and core function and at an appropriate level of general strength, high impact activities can be gradually introduced. This is generally after 6-months and should be guided by your Physio.
As you progress in strength and control gains your Physio will tailor exercises towards the pursuits you are keen to return to – whether that be boot camp style exercises, running, Barre Classes or Reformer Cardio.
This is our bread and butter, breakfast lunch and dinner here at The Studio. When should you book in for your post natal/Women’s Health assessment? As soon as you are ready! You are welcome to bring bub along to your appointment. There are no rules as no two recoveries are the same, generally post C-Section you will have to wait a little longer for your wound to be healing nicely but rest assured you will be in safe hands and the early we can make a start on your recovery the better!