Are you a new mum? Congratulations! Welcome to the next exciting phase of your life. Everyone told you this would be the most beautiful time bonding with your new little one. But what about all of the things people didn’t tell you? Perhaps you are sore in unexpected places or perhaps some things don’t feel quite like they did before?
The reality is, many women in the first few weeks/months postpartum often ask themselves the question ‘is this normal?’ It is completely normal to feel a little lost and sometimes not recognize yourself and your new body. The good news is ladies, help is out there! They say it takes a village to raise a child, well the same should also be said for the mother’s recovery process. Having a team of people working together to ensure your recovery is manageable can put your mind at ease and help you to put your time and energy into the places it is needed most.
One of the most important health professionals you should see both during and after having your baby is a Women’s Health Physiotherapist. I may be slightly biased, but we truly can help with so much including some of the most common pelvic floor and postnatal issues which can be life-changing for so many women.
It is recommended that at approximately 6 weeks postpartum (around the same time you would see your GP/midwife/obstetrician) to also visit a Women’s Health Physiotherapist. In this appointment a thorough birth and obstetric history is always taken.
This helps us to get a better understanding of the birth process and any issues that you may be currently experiencing. You can however, come and see us from as early as 3 weeks postpartum if you have any specific concerns or have had a significant birth injury or complicated labor and delivery. Do not hold back in this appointment and don’t feel like any detail is unnecessary or embarrassing. Fortunately, for most Women’s Health Physiotherapist’s we have the gift of time as these are often longer appointments. After we talk to you about any concerns you may have, with your consent we begin the physical checks. The first is always an abdominal muscle check. The physiotherapist will use their fingers, and possibly other pieces of equipment, to determine whether you have an abdominal muscle diastasis (separation) and if it is significant. The second of these checks, with consent, is a pelvic floor examination. Regardless of the method of delivery (vaginal or caesarian) it is encouraged that you have a pelvic floor examination to completely assess the pelvic floor and identify issues such as pelvic organ prolapse so that we can advise you on things like return to exercise and basic daily activities. This is a digital exam and often does not take much time. The physiotherapist is there to ensure that you feel comfortable and will not proceed with anything unless you give the ok. A Women’s Health physiotherapist can also check and offer you advice on other physical concerns you may have including neck and shoulder pain, back pain and pelvic pain.
Seeing a Women’s Health Physiotherapist does not have to wait until after you have had your baby. You can also come to us during pregnancy. This is not only for any physical concerns you may be experiencing but also to help you prepare for birth. Checking the ability of your pelvic floor to not only contract but also relax is so important leading up to delivery. A Women’s Health physiotherapist can also advise on things you can start to do during pregnancy and in the first few days after birth to assist with issues such as abdominal muscle separation, looking after your pelvic floor and just being able to move around and care for bub without fear, worry or pain. You do not need a referral to come and see a Women’s Health physiotherapist and most clinics will have a HICAPS machine which allows you to claim instantly through your health fund.
Ultimately, trying to navigate the world of being a new mum can be tricky, but you do not have to do it alone. Seeing a Women’s Health physiotherapist can be an important part of the puzzle in helping you feel confident and strong within yourself and enjoy the new chapter of motherhood.