Know Why Pelvic Floor Knowledge is Power - by Keira Wetherup Brown
“The female body deserves more care, in order to receive more care, women must understand the language of the body.” ~ Tami Lynn Kent
For me, being diagnosed with a health condition was like a rude awakening. For those of us who have lived with chronic discomfort or pain it can take time to come to terms with this new way of living. It is not one of our choosing; therefore, choices become all the more important. Particularly, with women’s health issues such as pelvic organ prolapse which is so private in nature.
My personal experience living with a pelvic health issue was one of being disempowered emotionally and physically. After the birth of my daughter eight years ago there didn’t seem to be a lot of information or resources for me to begin to understand my condition nor how to move forward and heal. The expression that hindsight is 20/20 rings true for me as today I can tell you that I have learned so much about pelvic health as well as about myself as a woman and mother. I have integrated my journey of healing into my life’s work as a wellness coach and counsellor and I am proud to share the knowledge I’ve gained with other women. Yet, there are times when I wish I could have prevented the onset of my pelvic organ prolapse altogether.
Here is what I wish I knew back then:
- Appreciate and understand the intricate miracle of your pelvic floor. Read about the female pelvic floor to understand how it all works together including excretion, reproduction, and intimacy.
- Understand what contributes to the weakening of the pelvic floor. Did you know that chronic constipation, coughing, heavy lifting, obesity, as well as vaginal childbirth contribute to pelvic health conditions such as pelvic organ prolapse?1 Pelvic organ prolapse or POP is defined as one or more of the organs in the pelvic floor herniating into the vaginal canal including the bladder (cystocele), the rectum (rectocele), the uterus (uterine), the small intestine (enterocele) and the vaginal canal (vaginal vault).1
- Visiting a Pelvic Floor (PF) physiotherapist can be educational if not enlightening. It is amazing to me how as women we are unaware of our pelvic floor in terms of our strength or lack thereof (and I was one of them). Your pelvic floor can be strengthened like other areas of the body. Having a guide to help you target dormant muscles can put you on the fast track to strengthening your pelvic floor.
- Prioritize your pelvic floor in your birth plan. We focus so much on nutrition in the pre-pregnancy phase and while expecting but what about the physical condition of our pelvic floor, an area that is all too often neglected or forgotten? Childbirth should be prepared for by visiting a PF physiotherapist including a personal exercise regime that ensures that your pelvic health is optimized. Products such as the Epi-No (a tool for connecting with your pelvic floor) and knowing about exercise programs specifically addressing the pelvic floor such as Prepare to Push, Pfilates™ (Pilates for the pelvic floor), The Ab Rehab® Program, the MUTU System, and the Hypopressive Method™ would have provided me with many options beneficial for my healing.
- Finally, never underestimate the emotional impact of a physical health issue. When you are physically unwell your energy levels continue to decrease affecting your ability to cope with life’s challenges. It took me a long time to finally reach out for support but once I did my emotional wellbeing was enhanced and I was able to focus on self-care, go to appointments, tackle my healing journey, and be a happier Mom. It is essential to ask for and find support when you need it.
Once upon a time, pelvic health conditions weren’t discussed and perhaps were considered to be a tradeoff for being a mother. Today, thanks to women committed to sharing knowledge and various health modalities that address the health of the pelvic floor, pelvic health is finally being brought out of the closet by a dream team of women who champion pelvic health. Learn as much as you can about your pelvic floor and share what you know with your family and friends because knowledge is power. To continue to pave the way for empowerment and research in women’s health issues we must continue to share our wisdom with each other.
- Palm, S. J. (2009). Pelvic organ prolapse: The silent epidemic. New York: Eloquent Books.