By Kate Leishman, Pelvic Health Specialist Physiotherapist
Is there such a thing as a ‘normal’ birth? And what happens when you suffer with embarrassing problems related to your ‘normal’ birth? Forceps deliveries, tears (including third and fourth degree tears that tear into the anal sphincters), prolapse and incontinence can all occur after giving birth. And contrary to what the marketing people at a certain incontinence pad company would have you believe, ‘Oops moments’ are not normal, or even worse, that they should be accepted as part of your life from now on.
There is still a very ‘fairy tale vision’ of childbirth, where in reality many women suffer significant injuries or issues following it. Research shows that one in five women develop problems with bowel control in the first five years following vaginal delivery, and there are many more who have prolapse and urinary incontinence. Women are too embarrassed to draw attention to their pelvic floor issues after childbirth, many feel shame, or even fear of what may happen during examinations, or feel that surgery is their only option. More about these experiences women face can be found in this article.
However, there is still much that can be done to help once you seek some advice and support.
Women should be offered a 6 week check by their GP following birth. However, many have missed out on this due to pressures on the services during Covid. There are pelvic health physiotherapy departments in most major hospitals but again waiting times can be long and some GPs are still unaware that these even exist therefore women are just not able to access the care they require.
Kate, our pelvic health physiotherapist, has seen many women throughout the past 2 years who were seen by their GP/hospital and diagnosed with a prolapse and then basically shown the door. No information, no reassurance and no advice on how to move forward with their rehabilitation. A pelvic health physiotherapist can carry out a full pelvic assessment including internal examinations and diagnosis of prolapse. For many, conservative management is all that is needed. Physiotherapists can provide most of this, including pessary fitting if required.
So where is the help when you need it?
Thankfully help is available at Life Fit Wellness in our pelvic health clinic with our specialist pelvic health physiotherapist Kate Leishman. Kate has over 20 years experience in pelvic health and can offer a full assessment and individualised treatment programme.