The anticipation of the positive pregnancy test, sharing the news with family and friends to all the decisions that come with; pregnancy and childbirth can be overwhelming.
So…you’ve booked in for your:
✅ Paediatrician follow-up
✅ Gynaecological/Obstetrician follow-up
✅ Lactation consultant appointment
✅ Well baby clinic follow-up
✅ Signed up for mum and bubs classes
🤷🏽♀️ 6 week Women’s Health Physiotherapy appointment…Hmmm
WHAT IS A 6 WEEK WOMEN’S HEALTH PHYSIOTHERAPY APPOINTMENT?
It is a 1-hour long discussion ABOUT YOU.
Firstly, we’ll have a good debrief on your pregnancy, birth story and what your goals are.
Secondly, I will ask number questions (read: interrogation) about your past medical history, aches/pains, pelvic health status, sex, sleep, feeding and exercise.
Thirdly, depending on your symptoms and goals, I will move onto assessment of:
- Sore joints or spine
- Diastasis Recti and core strength
- Perineal tear/episiotomy OR c-sect scar
- Pelvic floor which includes assessing strength/weakness of the pelvic floor muscle and ligaments, prolapse and pain
- Return to exercise testing
HOW DOES THIS DIFFER FROM A 6 WEEK GYNAECOLOGICAL/OBSTETRICIAN FOLLOW-UP?
Usually your Dr will cover the following in a very short space of time:
- Screen for Postnatal Depression
- Check that the cervix has closed up
- A conversation about birth control and family planning
- A check of the healing stitches (either perineal/vaginal or from a Caesarean section
- Conduct a pap smear if it’s due
- And give you the go ahead to exercise
You might be lucky if your Dr checks for the presence of diastasis recti, asks you do pelvic floor exercises or even refer you for a Women’s Health Physio assessment (if you know of this unicorn- please please please share details!).
RANT: I fail to see how the above can help your Dr advise you to go ahead with exercise…just saying…
WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME TO BOOK IN FOR AN APPOINTMENT?
After your 6 week check up with your Obstetrician/Gynaecologist is a great time to book in, though not essential.
Waiting for 6 weeks allows for the body to do what its designed to do best- heal with time. If you are experiencing changes that bother you PLEASE come in sooner.
These changes may include the following:
- Bowel changes-constipation, incontinence, haemorrhoids, urgency
- Bladder changes- incontinence, hesitancy, frequency, urgency, retention
- Pelvic pressure or heaviness, visualisation or a lump or bulge in the vagina
- Perineal Trauma- pain from your tear or episiotomy
- Pelvic girdle, neck, back or wrist pain
- Itching to return to exercise ASAP and would like guidance
In these cases getting care sooner rather than later can allow for assessment, education and equip you with the skills necessary to optimise your recovery and give to you the reassurance you need. Life’s already tough with a newborn, let’s take the guess work out of it.
IS THIS NECESSARY?
YES! I say this as a professional and from my personal- mum of 3- point of view.
When it comes to Postnatal Physiotherapy, the French have got this right. Rééducation Périnéale ensures all women receive government subsidised postnatal physiotherapy access. This is not a one off, it is until you’ve met your goals (Yes, you read that correctly.).
The American College of Obstetrician and Gynaecologists (ACOG) guidelines have also highlighted the need for continued post-partum support for mummies, including a visit to a Women’s Health Physiotherapist.
IS IT EVER TOO LATE?
As they say, once postnatal, always postnatal…If you never had your ‘6 week check’ – it’s never too late.
It’s good to know when things are common vs normal. It’s good to know that you don’t have to live with it. Your Women’s Health Physiotherapist is well placed to help assess and educate you on what’s common, normal and what your options are.
If you feel like you could benefit from specialised guidance and treatment for your postnatal recovery or return to exercise, reach out by calling/whatsapp 9780 7274 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.