At SensoBaby we are always keen to connect with professionals helping mothers. We recently met up with Arifa, a physiotherapist who specialises in Pelvic Health. We asked her a few questions to find out more.
Why do you think pelvic floor physio is important?
Pregnancy, giving birth and having a baby is a very special phase in every mom’s journey, but it can be overwhelming too.
There are many changes physically and emotionally. Self care is one aspect that a lot of moms, new and old neglect during the post partum period. It is extremely important to have an assessment with a pelvic health Physiotherapist after giving birth.
Many women don’t realize that Physiotherapists with special training can treat conditions like incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Pelvic Floor Physio’s would perform internal and external examinations providing a clear insight into the function of the pelvic floor.
There are physical changes that happen in the body, weight of the baby and the growing pregnancy as well as hormonal changes that soften pelvic musculature in preparation for the birth. These muscles act as a sling and perform an important function as part of the core muscles and in bladder and bowel control. These changes can lead to the pelvic floor muscles being vulnerable to dysfunction causing symptoms of lower back and hip pain or unwanted leaking with coughing or vigorous activity.
Can you tell us a bit more?
During vaginal birth, the pelvic floor stretches to accommodate the exit of the baby. This may cause tearing and weakness in the area. Many healthcare professionals may prescribe kegels but this may not be appropriate for you and could even exacerbate symptoms. When seeing a pelvic floor therapist a thorough assessment will be done and this will help to determine which exercises or treatment is needed to safely enhance healing.
Common conditions seen are urinary or fecal incontinence; the inability to control gas; pelvic organ prolapse; pelvic pain; painful intercourse; diastisis rectus or overactive bladder.
Incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse are common but not normal and should not be considered an inevitable consequences of motherhood and ageing.
How can a pelvic floor Physiotherapist help?
At the 6 week check up post partum, doctors do not usually evaluate the pelvic floor strength and function. Women are usually given the green light to resume exercise. Mothers may jump back to exercises their bodies are not prepared to manage. Pelvic floor therapists will educate and give an exercise programme that keep the pelvic floor muscles strong, they can help with breathing strategies, core function and thus easing all activities of daily living. Consulting a pelvic floor therapist can help at any stage during pregnancy and can also help prepare the muscles for delivery.
When is the best time to see a pelvic floor Physiotherapist?
If there is tissue injury like muscle tearing or episiotomies, its typically best to wait 6 weeks to allow for the tissues to heal before scheduling an appointment. For general pain or weakness as well as unwanted leaking, you can get started as soon as possible. Guidance can be provided at any stage during pregnancy to help prepare the body with delivery and keeping mom’s strong coping with the demands of a new baby.
Arifa Tajbhai is a qualified Physiotherapist who specialises in Pelvic Health and Women’s Health. You can contact her at Synergy Physiotherapy on 395 3424 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Better still, you can find her at this month’s Cuppa Love, a free coffee morning for parents in Gaborone.