Is pelvic floor weakness only a postnatal issue?

Is pelvic floor weakness only a postnatal issue?

In a word, no.

According to various studies, roughly a third of postnatal women suffer with some form of pelvic floor problem post-birth, but in my experience, I believe this figure to be much higher.

Put it this way, there are a lot of women suffering in silence with “sensitive bladder” issues as it’s now commonly termed (annoyingly coined, shall I add, as though it’s a perfectly normal issue for women to suffer with).

Don’t get me started on those “whoops moments” adverts – they drive me nuts and the actor portrayed is actually quite young.

Wetting (or indeed pooing) yourself whilst going about your day-to-day activities is NOT normal, alrighty?

And, wearing an incontinence pad/adult nappy is just putting a plaster on the problem.

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There’s a common assumption (or dare I say “fobbing off”) from some medical professionals to say to postnatal clients who present with pelvic floor dysfunction:

“Oh, well, let’s wait until you’re 6 months postnatal”, or

“It’s quite common.  Come back to see me if your symptoms don’t improve in another 12 weeks”

Whereas what should be happening is:

“Sure, ok, let’s get you referred to a Women’s Health Physiotherapist to get you checked out, and a plan of care provided for you”.

The level of care provided depends on what area of the country you live in, and I’ve been working with pre/postnatal for 11+ years now, and I’ve seen standards drop significantly in this time.

This is not a rant about doctors, nurses, midwives, health visitors – so, please don’t think that’s what I’m saying here.

Over the course of 2 years or so, I’ve seen a range of clients come to see me:

  • Men with pudendal nerve entrapment (not something any man or woman wants to know about if I’m quite honest)
  • Men with enlarged prostate (which again is about as comfortable as being trapped behind a bookcase)
  • Pregnant women suffering with “sneeze wee” in their first, second and third trimester (and I’m seeing more prenatal with this issue)
  • Older women who’ve never had babies who’ve developed pelvic organ prolapse
  • Postnatal women with pelvic floor dysfunction, mesh repairs post-prolapse surgery, birth trauma from forceps/episiotomy/tearing

But, what’s striking is: I’m seeing women as young as 16 in my clinic in Lady Bay with pelvic floor weakness.

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Why?

Well, for these girls (and many of the other groups of people I’ve mentioned above), it’s usually as a result of:

  • Poor posture
  • Very weak glute (butt) muscles
  • Posterior-tilted pelvis
  • Chronically tight hamstrings
  • Loading the body in standing incorrectly
  • Excessive sitting
  • Excessive sitting (in the wrong position), and
  • Tight pelvic floor muscles

You’d probably think that having a tight pelvic floor is a good thing.

Ummm….nope.

You want a flexible, strong pelvic floor, to enable you to:

  • deliver a baby as naturally as possible (if that’s your thing),
  • stop organs falling out of you at the rate they currently are across the world (that’s prolapse I’m talking about here)
  • not have unnecessary loads applied to your pelvic floor as you go about your day (I’m talking about “sneeze wee” and those male issues I mentioned above), and
  • have a functional core unit, of which the pelvic floor sits at the base of

A tight pelvic floor = a weak, dysfunctional one.

And, there are a LOT of things going on to cause tightness in the pelvic floor musculature…

And, it proves this doesn’t just affect postnatal women, but pregnant women, women who’ve never been had babies, young adults, men of any age, and well – everyone in between.

If you’ve related to any of the issues I’ve mentioned in today’s blog, and you want to learn more about my “full-body approach” to lessening your symptoms of pelvic floor weakness book your space on my next Your Pelvic Matters course Mondays at 7:15pm in Lady Bay.

If you’re pregnant and concerned you’re not prepared physically for childbirth, book your space on any of my pregnancy fitness or pregnancy Pilates classes, where you’ll learn first-hand, what exercises will help strengthen and lengthen things.

My Bump to Babe pregnancy fitness classes on Mondays and Wednesdays in Lady Bay provide cardio, toning, Pilates, stretching and tonnes of education about what happens to your body during pregnancy.

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Claire Mockridge
Claire Mockridge is an Ante/Postnatal Fitness Expert, Pilates Teacher and Train-the-Trainer. She's worked with over 950 pregnant and postnatal women and enjoys empowering and educating her clients on safe and effective exercise. Claire is a Health Columnist for the Nottingham Evening Post, a Health Expert for BBC Radio Nottingham, regularly writes for the national press and is the Winner of Theo Paphitis' Small Business Sunday Award.

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