Yesterday I was chatting to a pelvic health physio friend about an experience of being screened at a local gym. They had asked if I was postnatal and I said yes, I’d had a C-section and felt my recovery had been long and at times complex…
That was their cue to ask me more before I joined a sled pushing and deadlifting class…
Instead, they moved on. And this is all too common. Screening isn’t just a tick box exercise. It’s the opportunity to understand where someone is in terms of their general health, but more specifically their pelvic health (especially if they are post natal, post hysterectomy or post surgery).
Here are 5 questions, you should be asked about your pelvic health. Especially if you’ve just had a baby.
Pelvic health question 1) If you are postnatal, what kind of delivery did you have?
Contrary to popular belief, you are not totally healed from birth at 6 weeks when you might go back to your gym. Or see a personal trainer for some post baby fitness. Even if you had (and I say this in inverted commas so you get my drift) “a straightforward vaginal delivery”, you are still healing. This is an opportunity to chat about your pregnancy (any issues?), delivery and recovery. Even if you feel a million dollars and your brain feels ready to box jump and lift heavy, your body isn’t. Time and patience are underestimated and sometimes you need your fit pro to point this out (and I say this with love, because I wish someone would have told me this after my daughter).
Not had your 6 week GP check yet? You can find my blog post about owning your 6 week check here
Pelvic health question 2) Do you feel pain or heaviness in your pelvis or vagina?
Pain and/or heaviness in the pelvis/vagina may be a sign of the following and it’s a good idea to see a pelvic health physiotherapist.
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Hypertonic (tight) pelvic floor muscles
- Poor healing of stitches/scars
You may be thinking that these are your new normal after giving birth or post hysterectomy/menopause but high intensity exercise may make them worse. Equally, a fit pro or personal trainer who uses a lot of breath holding or over cues the pelvic floor may be contributing to pelvic pain or pelvic floor tightness.
Pelvic health question 3) Do you leak with running, jumping, coughing or sneezing?
1 in 3 women suffer from urinary incontinence but so may women still view this as something normal that happens when you’ve had kids. No way!
Knowing this is important from a programming perspective but also because (and I speak on behalf of many when I say) no-one wants to piss themselves on the gym floor. Or have an “oops moment” in their PT session. Exercise can be a great way to strengthen the pelvic floor by gradually building up impact and intensity.
Pelvic health question 4) Have you ever had surgery or an injury to your pelvic region?
Our bodies hold on to trauma. So, whether you fell and hurt your coccyx as a child or had a hysterectomy last week, these are things that can impact your body. From how you move, to your ability to feel your pelvic floor working.
Pelvic health question 5) Do you have any concerns about your pelvic health?
Let’s normalise talking about our pelvic health with others! Especially when conversations around pelvic health are relevant – and around exercise is most definitely one of those times.
What questions do you wish your gym or PT had asked you? Pop a comment below and I’ll come back to you.