At Home Parenting

Sunday Self-care: The down low on down below

January 7, 2018
If 2018 is going to be the year of anything, it’s the year I start to put me first a little more and make sure I put my health a bit higher on my priority list.

Being a Mummy is the most amazing thing, but in my case I find it always puts me second, mentally and physically. To try and help myself and encourage me to actually think about self-care more I am going to be running mini series right here on my blog throughout the year with self-care ideas. I’ll give you updates over on my Instagram on how I’m getting on and I’d love to know if you’re enjoying the series.

For the first in the series and over the next three weeks we are going to be talking about down there, about our pelvic floor. There will be information about our pelvic floor, why it’s so important and what we can be doing to make sure it’s in good shape.
I’m no expert in this so I have recruited a women’s health physio to give you this amazing information and the first in the series today is ‘The down low on down below’. Nicky Herringshaw, a Chartered Physiotherapist is here to tell us more…

The Low Down on Down Below

It’s a fact of life that having a baby has a huge impact on a woman’s body and not always a good one. Our boobs get huge and then saggy, we get a mummy belly that never seems to quite go away and our pelvic floor often seems to forget what it’s supposed to do and we can start getting embarrassing leaks. But all is not lost! As a Women’s Health Physio, I see lots of women who struggle with pelvic floor problems and what’s great, is almost always, there are things I can do to dramatically help ease their symptoms or eradicate them all together.

Leaking a bit of wee when you laugh, cough or jump might be common after having a baby but nothing about it’s normal and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! There’s plenty that can be done to help and that all starts by seeing a Women’s Health Physio. “A whatey what physio?” I hear you say. Well we are a small subsect of physios that specialise in treating the pelvic floor.

So what do you need to know about the pelvic floor and why is it so darn important? Well think of it as a sling of muscle that goes from your tailbone to your pubic bone. It’s role is to literally hold up your abdominal content and help control weeing, pooing and it also goes a long way towards having a cracking orgasm! When you’re busy growing a tiny human, your pelvic floor can hold up to an extra 4-5kg in weight and that’s no small feat. So regardless of how you have your baby, that pelvic floor has had a tough time throughout pregnancy.

When you come to have your baby (vaginally or via C-section) the pelvic floor gets a bit of a hammering. Whether it be from a big old head passing through it (maybe even a set of forceps or a ventouse thrown in for good measure) or poor communication with the brain afterwards because it’s closest ally, the deep tummy muscles just got cut having a C-section, the pelvic floor just isn’t firing on all cylinder afterwards and needs some much deserved TLC!

So what should happen? In an ideal world, every woman in the UK would have a pelvic floor assessment and rehab after having a baby. In reality, almost every woman gets told a bit of pelvic floor weakness is normal after having a baby and it’ll probably get better in time!

Here are the stats (MacArthur et al 2012):

· If you’re incontinent a few months after giving birth, there’s a high chance you still will be 10 years

· 1 in 3 women have a pelvic floor problem

· 45% of all mothers will experience urine incontinence within 7 years of giving birth

Frankly, that sucks and what’s even worse, is it’s so preventable! If 6 weeks after having your baby you’re having a bit of a leak (or before that if you having a full wee), ask your GP for a Women’s Health Physio referral. If you can afford to go privately, then that’s a good option too, if nothing else because our poor NHS physios are hugely stretched and resources are low. Don’t always expect your GP to know much about Women’s Health Physios too – we are a hugely untapped source, mainly due to lack of public and doctor’s awareness.

But aren’t pelvic floor exercises meant to sort all this out? Well yes and no. Many women have what we call an over active pelvic floor. Imagine your calf in cramp – hurts a lot right? Well same sort of thing can happen with the pelvic floor. It can get tighter and tighter, unable to relax fully. This can cause symptoms such as constipation, back and pelvic pain, pain during sex, tummy ache….to name but a few. If you try do the normal pelvic floor exercise when you’re overactive, all you do is make it worse. Instead you have to teach it relax before you can then start strengthen it! So having your pelvic floor checked first before you start your exercises really is very important.

Pelvic floor problems extend way beyond leaking wee. They can include uncontrollable flatulence, being incontinent of poo, terrible pain in the pelvis or vagina (the list goes on) – all of which can be helped by physio. We can also help with pelvic organ prolapse, with statistics showing pelvic floor physiotherapy exercises are more effective than surgery in most cases of pelvic organ prolapse (when your uterus, bladder or rectum push into the vaginal space).

Ladies, please don’t suffer in silence. With 1:3 women struggling with this stuff, you are in excellent company. There is help out there so please ask your GP to refer you or google your nearest Women’s Health Physio. Spread the world and help us to make the UK a drier place!!

You can find more from Nicky on the Total Health Physiotherapy website and Facebook page.

Until next week,

Sarah xx

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12 Comments

  • Reply Little B & Me January 8, 2018 at 10:09 pm

    We have it drummed into us that a little leak is fine when it appears in fact its far from it!
    I wish there was more help for women, by the means of offering a list of exercises etc. Rather than them suffer in silence at their check with a male doctor who couldn’t give a flip.

    Fabulous post & I hope it brings awareness!

    • Reply Sarah January 11, 2018 at 5:24 am

      I totally agree with you, it’s definitely not OK! Thanks lovely for commenting and fingers crossed it helps! X

  • Reply Lu Lovely January 8, 2018 at 10:22 pm

    Here’s a spot of too much information, but my mother, who’s almost 70, had terrible trouble with her pelvic floor muscles last year (prolapse!). She’s been using a vaginal kegel and it’s made the World of difference.

    Looking forward to seeing more of your mini series.

    • Reply Sarah January 11, 2018 at 5:23 am

      Oh really, that’s so interesting. No one really talks about it so i didn’t even know that worked! X

  • Reply Sarah Stockley January 9, 2018 at 11:39 am

    Being very petite and having 3 large babies (biggest was 9lbs) I got extremely swollen with my first – if I walked anywhere I felt like my insides were going to fall out. I did do pelvic floor and thankfully I have been fine. Sarah

    • Reply Sarah January 11, 2018 at 5:21 am

      It’s so important and I am finding that out now! So good to hear you’ve been ok. Thanks so much for commenting x

  • Reply The Mummy Bubble January 11, 2018 at 5:46 am

    I really tried to remember to do my pelvic floor exercises after my second but it’s so hard when you’re rushing about! I’m hoping it’s not going to come back to haunt me. This is such a fab informative post x #thursdayteam

  • Reply Helen aka wekshmumwriting January 11, 2018 at 8:19 am

    Thank you thank you thank you. I’m so glad you shared this with the #ThursdayTeam. I was diagnosed with a high tone pelvic floor dysfunction (over active!) after my son was born. My GP and various sites all suggested that I had pelvic floor weakness and exercise classes just made it worse. It wasn’t until I saw a specialist physio in pelvic health that it all came out. I’ve probably had it for years and years, but got worse after a section. It’s a real issue. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Adam @ Too Many Redheads January 11, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    As a male, this article is really eye-opening. I don’t think most men are aware of any of this, and it’s really sad that we aren’t — this is something our partners and the mothers of our children are going through, and we need to be aware of it.

  • Reply Sara @ Magical Mama Blog January 11, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    There seems to be so little education about this because people are so embarrassed to talk about it. Too many women suffer in silence and don’t reach out for help. This is a great, informative post and I look forward to the rest of this series!
    Thanks for sharing!
    #ThursdayTeam

  • Reply Kristie - Mammaprada January 11, 2018 at 8:13 pm

    This is so interesting. I do think we get a bit fobbed off by GPs. I don’t think mine ever returned to normal after my second baby ! It’s so good that this type of information is out there so we can all be firm if things aren’t right early on. #ThursdayTeam

  • Reply Pip Milburn January 11, 2018 at 10:00 pm

    This post is so helpful, thank you! I’ve recently had a terrible cough accompanied by quite a bit of leakage. I’ve never experienced this before and I just put it down to something that happens when you get older. I didn’t realise it wasn’t normal! I’ll be heading to the GP to get my pelvic floor checked xx #thursdayteam

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