This week’s special guest article was written by Jenine Dilts-Bayman, The Mums Fitness Expert: Founder of the New Mama Lifestyle Program
******Time and time again, I meet with women who have incurred serious injuries after having their babies. These aren’t the kind of injuries that are obvious from the outside. Unfortunately, the private nature of what a woman may experience post-birth often means the issues go undiagnosed and untreated. Many women may feel that what they’re experiencing is normal, or simply not wish to see a doctor or women’s health physiotherapist about it, thinking it will just go away (hint hint…it won’t)! Recently, I’ve been speaking with Taryn Watson, principal physiotherapist & founder of FitRight Physiotherapy, who is also a contributor to the New Mama Lifestyle program (watch for her videos in 2019). We both agree that the current system in assessing a mother’s physical readiness post-birth is reactive, rather than proactive. That with a newborn baby, every test is carried out just in case there is an issue. Where as with a newborn Mother, it is a ‘wait and see’ approach. You are discharged from hospital and told to come back ‘if’ any concerns arise, and then even in your 6 week check, the review is minimal. This means that over 50% of Mothers incur an injury, without ever doing anything about it. Worse, that some never realise the severity of what has occurred, until it comes back to haunt them in a big way. As a Personal Trainer who understands the severity of these injuries, it pains me to see women with the best intentions being encouraged to return to exercise so intensely and quickly after giving birth. Unfortunately, the fitness industry is rife with well intentioned, misguided information. It really is ‘buyer beware’, and a matter of understanding the changes your body has been through, speaking up and advocating for yourself. You simply cannot rely on the personal trainer or fitness instructor at your local gym to hold this knowledge and advise you when modification is needed. Expert advice is always the best way to ensure you are setting your foundation fitness the right way, to avoid injury now and in the future.
Image source @mumswithbubsfitnessIf you have yet to see a Women’s Health Physiotherapist after having your baby, I hope these reasons will encourage you to make that phone call and book an appointment. Firstly, if you’ve recently had a baby, you should be booking this appointment sooner than later. Yes, I realise this might seem like a rather ‘generalized’ statement, but its true. If you’ve had a baby, birthed a 6 pound human out of you, whether it be through caesarean or vaginal birth. Whether your’s was a long labour or a short. Whether your baby was an assisted delivery or not. Whether you had tearing, bleeding or stitches, or not. You should see a women’s health physio. Why? Because you will be given a thorough examination of your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles. You will meet with a professional who will answer all your questions about what is normal, or not so normal, after having your baby. You will likely be given a list of exercises to take home with you. And perhaps most of all, you will be setting yourself a solid foundation on which to build your health for years to come! The foundation health that comes with being secure within these muscles is both physical and mental. Stress incontinence, abdominal separation, hernia, prolapse, no longer enjoying sex…the list goes on. See a women’s health physio shortly after having your baby, and ensure you live your life to the fullest from here onwards. Another sign would be if you have a ‘pouch’ or ‘peak’ like appearance in your stomach. This could be visible when completing exercise, or even in day to day life. I often see this when clients come to me after losing some weight through dieting, and then feel ready to do the physical side of things again. If you notice this in your body, then absolutely skip the gym, and book in with your women’s health physio first. When it comes to your pelvic floor, there are a vast range of reasons why seeing a women’s health physio is critical to living a joyous life! A sensation of bulging, sagging, leakage, or even painful sex can be signs that there is something not quite right in one of your pelvic floor muscles and is a definite red flag to get checked out. Should you decide to simply ‘play on’ or ignore these issues, they will nearly certainly become worse as time goes on. Get checked. It’s that simple! Seeing a women’s healthy physiotherapist can also be useful to assist with other issues incurred in new Motherhood, such as Mastitis, as they can assist you using ultrasound to clear blocked ducts, aid in recovery, and get you back to full health sooner than later. It’s not scary, or embarrassing, or hurtful. These women are professionals who are skilled in assisting women to recover after birth, and no matter what age you are, making an appointment could be a life changing experience. Not just for now, but for the quality of life you experience from here onwards. To find a qualified women’s health physiotherapist in your area, type those words into an internet search engine. Alternatively, ask your other Mom friends. You might be surprised at how many have seen a women’s health physio, and if any of them haven’t, the conversation might just be what spurs them on to get the help they need too.
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