Pelvic Floor & Vaginal Health Recommendations
This week I posted stories with reference to an article written on The Spin Off about Women during the Post Partum period and how there is so much more to this than just getting our ‘bodies back'. If you haven’t read the article you can click here to head over to the page, I encourage you to read it more than once, send it to your partner, your family and anyone else who could use a reminder on what changes Women go through while being pregnant, giving birth and after birth.
The article covers the important topic of Pelvic Floor & Vaginal health - birth, regardless of how your baby enters the world, puts significant stress on your body and this can result in serious impacts afterwards. The article references an interview with Caitlin Day - a physiotherapist on the pre and post natal wards at Auckland City Hospital - “She reels off the statistics: one in three women who have had a baby leak urine. Around 50% of women who deliver a baby vaginally have a prolapse whether they know it or not. (A prolapse is where the vaginal walls have been stretched, allowing one or more of the pelvic organs to bulge down into the vaginal area.)
One in eight women who have had a baby have faecal incontinence or difficulties controlling their gas. Around 85% of women who resume sex by 12 months postpartum (including those who had a C-section) experience pain during vaginal penetration after birth.” Caitlin goes on to describe the ways the vagina and pelvic floor muscles stretch to allow for birth and also mentions that around “30% of women are doing their pelvic floor exercises incorrectly”.
She also explains “After the baby has come, it’s different. Having a pelvic floor check is not part and parcel of the process after birth. If you’re in pelvic pain it’s really up to women to deal with that themselves and the whole postpartum experience is cast aside. In terms of the after-effects on your body, if it’s not related to breastfeeding nobody really wants to know. And that’s really difficult. Women feel really alone in these issues and it can be really scary to have everything change so much with your body so quickly and then to face coping with that on your own. Net result? “I think women suffer pelvic pain and painful sex and they’ll suffer through that for years.”
When I ran a poll on my story about Pelvic Floor / Vaginal Health and seeking professional help after birth, only 20% of responders had seen someone about their recovery / challenges. An astounding 80% hadn’t seen anyone after birth in regards to their healing post birth and when I asked why, the main results were that “I didn’t even know this kind of thing existed”, the other reasons were related to cost or not feeling like there were any issues with healing so didn’t feel the need to.
Caitlin said 'she would love everyone to be told how the pregnant body changes, the risks of both a C-section and a vaginal birth, and how to tell when things aren’t right after delivery.
“I also would love all women to have a mummy ‘Warrant of Fitness’: a postnatal assessment by a pelvic floor physio at six weeks after birth. France gives all their women 10 free government-funded pelvic floor physio appointments after they have a baby. We don’t do that in New Zealand, so women usually have to seek help themselves. But mostly, I would love women to know that there is help out there if you are concerned about your body or how it is functioning. It’s free through your DHB – just get a referral from your GP or midwife, or you can seek help from a private pelvic floor physiotherapist, no referral needed.”
As a result of this article and the discussion that came through over message, I asked for your recommendations of Pelvic Floor / Vaginal Health professionals in your area to share with others, in the hope that more and more Women will seek help after birth, even if everything feels ‘normal’. I hope there is a recommendation that is in your area below, if not I encourage you to check online for recommendations or give a Womens Health physio a call and ask about their pre/post natal services.
Juliette - Plus One Physio Northcote
Jamie - Te Atatu Health Physio
Margie Humphries at Gisbourne Hospital
Hamilton / Waikato
Bev Hampton - Maternal Journey
Esther - Women’s Health Physio @ Waikato Hospital
Katie Richardson - Wholehealth (Raglan)
Waikato Hospital Team (lots of recommendations)
Full Circle Physio
Fran - Te Ngae Physio
Tiaki Physiotherapy (Taranaki St)
So Active (intro back into exercise)
Lesley - Essential Physiotherapy
Victoria - Wellness Station
Lisa Carnie - Pelvic Solutions