It is now a well-known fact that places like France have Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy as part of their post-partum care, but today, I learned something new. I learned from a patient that a gym in Belgium required her friend, a new mom, to provide a letter confirming completion of pelvic floor physiotherapy before returning to exercise.
I could not contain my amazement when I heard this and I needed her to repeat it again.
A gym in Belgium required her friend to bring in a letter from her Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist that cleared her for exercise.
After hearing this, my imagination went wild! I wondered…what would it be like if all gyms here in Canada made a similar policy? What would it be like if Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy (Or Pelvic Floor Re-Education as they call it in Belgium) was a standard part of a woman’s post-partum recovery, so standard that even gyms wait for the new mom to re-educate her pelvic floor before beginning to exercise again… so standard that pelvic floor physiotherapy isn’t just a recommendation, but a policy? The significance of this little letter cannot be understated! How many prolapses could we possibly prevent if pelvic floor physiotherapy was required before a new mom returned to the gym?
Even though the effect of this would be hard to quantify, If post-partum pelvic physiotherapy was the standard, women would automatically be educated on symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction as well as signs and symptoms to watch out for. So at the very least, there would be an awareness of pelvic floor related conditions such as prolapse and stress urinary incontinence in the very women that are at risk of developing them. In addition to general awareness, women could specifically learn to associate symptoms of pelvic heaviness and leaking as signs of something not being right. This is in contrast to many of my patients right now who were told that these sorts of things were normal after having kids.
With society’s pressure for women to get back to their pre-pregnancy bodies as fast as possible, it is all too common for new moms who feel fine at 6 weeks, to think that they are fine. For the first year after delivery, you can’t exactly rely on how your body feels, and how you feel shouldn’t be your green light to go hard and fast with exercise. However, after working with new moms for the past five years, I have come to appreciate, that this is sometimes a hard sell.
So I do my best to educate patients, one new mom at a time, that the tissues are in need of recovery…I often tell them that they will never regret taking the time to get things in shape before returning to high impact exercise. This means getting their pelvic floors stronger, learning how to activate their deep core muscles, using their deep core muscles in exercise, and learning how to manage intra-abdominal pressure ( A lot of this is covered in our Foundations Series training videos).
Even though policies like this are non-existent right now in North America, simply knowing that some gyms in Belgium have this incredible policy opens the door for us here. It is one example of how we can help more women in the post-partum period, a period in which the body is in need of rest and recovery even though it may feel fine.
And if you are a gym owner, personal trainer, or fitness instructor who works with post-natal clients, maybe this is something you can consider implementing. Just a little thought…or more accurately, a big dream that I have ☺