Over the weekend I attended a course all about prescribing appropriate movement and exercise to women to ensure the best possible physical postnatal outcomes. (Look up the Women’s Health Collective, it is amazing!)
It was amazing, because I learned some super practical things!
But more so, it lit a little fire inside me. Actually, it stoked a fire that was already burning and one that excites me greatly.
So what is it? It is hard to quantify in words, but the crux of it is…
Having a baby is a big deal. It is a big deal physically, it is a big deal mentally, it is a big deal socially and it is a big deal for our sense of self.
And as a society, we don’t do enough to settle this big deal.
Doing what I do, I can really only speak for the physical side of things, but the more I think about it, the more important I think it is that we start to talk more about exercise as medicine and the way that it can heel our bodies, particularly postnatally.
So if you could indulge me for the next few minutes, I want to stand on my soap box and yell.
WE NEED TO SUPPORT WOMEN IN RECOVERING FROM HAVING A BABY.
Physically, mentally and socially.
I think we are getting way better at socially supporting one and other. Mothers groups, online forums etc are bringing us closer together than ever been before. They aren’t perfect by any stretch, but they are moving and they are driven often by social constructs such as the local early childhood clinics etc encouraging us to get together and share our experiences with others.
We are also progressing in recognising and treating postnatal mental health struggles. Again, brought on by social constructs and shifts in our culture to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental distress AND treat it. You can access a mental health plan from your GP, you can get guidance from various organisations such as PANDA, Life Line, Beyond Blue . Again, this is not perfect, but it is socially driven change and is moving in the right direction.
But physically…. What do we actually do to support mums to recovery physically from being pregnant?
What education do we provide them?
What do mum’s actually know about what is happening/ has happened to their bodies and how to recover from that to allow for a life full of physical activity?
What even is physical recovery from pregnancy?
As a society we are getting much much better at placing value on life long physical activity.
We know how great exercise is for us.
So at 6 weeks post partum, we get a “check” and we are sent on our way.
Where are the pamphlets about ways to identify if you have Diastasis Recti (DRAM)? And what does that even mean? Where are the info posters about Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) and the signs to identify if you have one or not? Where are the cute little post cards with an image of a mum and her baby that say “is your lower back in pain? Dial 1800 WHPhysio to book your appointment and check that your pelvic floor is in order”?
It doesn’t exist. And it is a flippin failure to the female kind.
(Ok, I will stop yelling now).
Let me pepper you with some facts info before I start to yell again.
- The physiologic and anatomic changes of pregnancy generally return to the pre-pregnancy state by approximately six to eight weeks postpartum. Most research, however, considers the postpartum recovery period to be up to 12 months following birth.
- 100% of women will experience abdominal separation (DRAM) in their 3rd trimester of pregnancy. 66% of women with DRAM will experience some kind of pelvic dysfunction.
- 75% of women will experience some kind of pelvic organ prolapse (POP) during their lifetime.
- A large proportion of women can not describe what their pelvic floor is, or how to activate it, or why it is so important to be able to do this.
So why, please someone tell me why, are we not offering women more obvious avenues to get back into prescribed exercise programs specifically designed to rehabilitate the female body postnatally?
Why when we know all of the benefits of life long physical activity are we not actually encouraging women to rehab their bodies to enable this life long activity?
And I am not talking about encouraging women to go for walks with the pram after having a baby (which is so great for you! Please don’t get me wrong!!) but actually driving them towards professionals who can actually guide them to building strength in key area’s so that they can heal and progress?! And progress well!
All I hear is crickets.
I am not an angry person, but this makes me seriously seriously frustrated.
Bust ACL – see the Dr, see the surgeon, have surgery, see the phsyio, rehab for a year, slowly return to walking and running.
Have baby, have “6 week check”….. And you done. On your way Mumma.
Why aren’t mums more frequently referred to women’s health physio’s?
Why aren’t new Mum’s and expecting mums educated about how to recovery from pregnancy?
Why why why, when we know how good on going exercise is for physical health, mental heath and social connection are we not doing more to educate and empower Mum’s to understand their bodies?
So here I am, in my little studio, breathing a little sigh of relief, that maybe in some tiny way, Belle Movement is part of the shift in this space. I am not an expert. Not even close. But I will keep on working with experts to ensure, that here, we are supporting women to move. To recover physically, mentally, socially and find a version of ourselves that we understand and love.
Thank you to “The Women’s Health Collective” for stoking this little fire. I couldn’t be more excited to drive this passion even further!