Breaking down the walls on our dirty little secret. #YMCCommunity

So you’ve had a baby or two…perhaps more.

Have you noticed a change in your lower lady bits? Do you leak when you exercise? Are you having trouble going number two? Maybe intercourse with your partner isn’t as comfortable as it once was, or maybe it’s now become painful? Are you feeling lower back or hip pain?

If you answered “Yes!” to any or all of these questions, then it’s time for you to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist! They will assess the status of your pelvic floor, by using real-time ultrasound as well as an internal examination.

I recently went in for a pelvic floor examination because I was experiencing several of the afore mentioned symptoms and I needed to figure out what was going on. During the ultrasound part of my exam, my pelvic floor physiotherapist showed me that my pelvic floor was not functioning as it should. I had the proper “squeeze”, however the “lift” was practically non-existent. She then performed an internal exam and discovered that I had a lot of scarring due to being pregnant and child birth. She was able to manually separate the adhesions from the walls of my cervix and vagina and I immediately felt a change and better movement when she was finished.

Photo credit: clearpassage.com

Photo credit: clearpassage.com

I am three and a half years post partum…it’s never too late to have a pelvic floor exam! My therapist told me of a client of hers that was in her seventies, went in and after her initial appointment, had immediate results affecting her urinary and digestive functions!

How AMAZING is that?!

I wasn’t aware about pelvic floor wellness until a few years ago. Chances are, you aren’t either.

After having my consultation, I DO NOT understand why all women, post childbirth, are not recommended to have a pelvic floor assessment! You go in for your post partum exam where they check that your bleeding has subsided, your tummy muscles are headed back in the right direction and any cuts and tears are healing properly, so why on Earth would you not be sent in to check on the status of your pelvic floor?

Having a proper functioning pelvic floor will prevent future core dysfunction. Proactive is a better route than reactive.

Were you also aware that you can ensure pelvic floor wellness during pregnancy and childbirth? Another topic that doctors don’t bring up at your regularly scheduled appointments throughout your pregnancy.

Prepare To Push™ written by Kim Vopni (aka The Fitness Doula), is a fantastic read that all pregnant women should get their hands on! This book highlights the need to prepare your body for childbirth and recover with core restoration.

Prepare To Push

Ladies, it’s so important to take care of your bits and pieces! Don’t be afraid to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist if you are experiencing any of the symptoms that I mentioned at the beginning of this post. And if you know someone who is planning on getting or is currently pregnant …pick them up a copy of Prepare To Push™.

Help spread the word about pelvic floor wellness and encourage women to talk openly about their concerns. Let’s change the way we think our bodies are supposed to be after pregnancy and childbirth. We’ve come a long way since our mothers and grandmothers gave birth!

It just comes with the territory of having babies… Not true! #PelvicFloorWeakness #YMCCommunity

If you’ve ever given birth, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

My Mum has it, my sister has it, my girlfriends have, it’s just a part of life now after having babies. Right? Nope!

Giving birth after effect

After being pregnant, having a baby or being overweight or obese, many women experience “leakage”. This can happen during exercise, sneezing, coughing and even laughing too hard. You may also find that you need to pee more frequently and urgently, and on occasion, not get to the potty in time! How about farting by accident in the middle of yoga class or when you’re in the vicinity of some uber gorgeous man? Have you starting having issues going #2? What about having sex with your partner? Has it become uncomfortable or even painful?

Did you just fart?

Did you hear that?

If you said “Yes!” to any or all of the above, then you probably have a pelvic floor problem.

What is a pelvic floor problem? It’s when your pelvic floor (the group of muscles that hold your bladder, uterus, vagina, and rectum in place) become stretched, weakened or even too tight and don’t function properly.  The most common types of dysfunction are stress incontinence (leaking with exertion) and pelvic organ prolapse (when the internal organs protrude into and eventually out of the vagina). Stats will tell you around 33% of women have pelvic floor challenges but because it is a taboo subject it is often not reported so the real number is likely much higher.  

Types of Pelvic Organ Prolapse

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, your first line of defence should be seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist – you do not need a referral and it is covered by extended health if you have physiotherapy benefits.  A gynaecologist may also be helpful if surgery is required and if so, a pelvic floor physiotherapist should remain part of your pre-hab and re-hab care before and after surgery.  

Recently I decided that after years of suffering from “leakage” after having my babies, I wanted to get this issue under control. I hated buying extra pads because of my new desire for exercise. Every time I did high impact moves like running and jumping, my bladder became my worst enemy.  After having my first child, whenever I’d attend a fitness class, I would suffer from “leakage”.

Pee during exerciseTotally embarrassing!

Even though I’d pee before class started, as soon as a high impact exercise began, I’d be wetting myself like a dog kept indoors all day, excited to see his owner come home from work.

I thought that this was the new me and the only way to deal with it was to wear a pad during exercise.

I decided that this really sucked and made an appointment with Kim Vopni at Pelvienne Wellness.

Pelvienne Wellness

Kim is a Certified Personal Trainer, a Certified Pre/Post Natal Fitness Consultant, a Certified Fitness For Fertility Specialist, a Certified Pfilates Instructor and is trained in the Hypopresive Method. She is also a Trained Post Partum Doula which has many clients referring to her as The Fitness Doula.  

She asked me questions regarding my pregnancies and deliveries and had me do a series of movements to see how my body was moving.

When our session was done, Kim recommended that I make an appointment with a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist.  She recommends all of her clients do so and she advises that you should schedule a pelvic floor assessment with your physio every year as a proactive approach. There is a list of Pelvic Floor Physiotherapists across Canada available on the Pelvienne Wellness website.

If you do have pelvic floor issues and you are into fitness, here is a list of exercises that you can do and also ones that you should avoid:

Pelvic floor safe cardio exercises

  • walking
  • swimming
  • seated cycling
  • cross trainer (low resistance)
  • low intensity water aerobics
  • walking in the water, and
  • low impact exercise classes.

Cardio exercises to avoid

  • running
  • jumping
  • star jumps
  • skipping
  • boxing
  • high impact exercise classes that involve running and jumping, and
  • sports involving stop-start running and rapid direction change (e.g. tennis, netball, basketball, hockey, touch football).

I have also stumbled across an App for pelvic floor-friendly exercises that you may find helpful.

PFF_APP_V3

For Apple users.

For Android users.

I think that the authors of the pregnancy books, that we all pick up when we find out that we’re expecting, should really include information regarding your pelvic floor, for during pregnancy and after delivery. The information should be provided towards the beginning of the book so that you can start the exercises early to help prevent injury, strain and tearing of your lady parts once your baby decides to make it’s way into the world. Women don’t tend to know about ways of prevention until AFTER they give birth, and by then it could be more difficult to correct. Kim Vopni also offers workshops in person and via skype called Prepare To Push, where she covers the preventative information. This will also be coming out as a book in early Fall.

For more information about pelvic floor health, please visit the Pelvienne Wellness website.