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!
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 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.
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”.
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.
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
- seated cycling
- cross trainer (low resistance)
- low intensity water aerobics
- walking in the water, and
- low impact exercise classes.
Cardio exercises to avoid
- star jumps
- 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.
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.