While I am incredibly grateful that the surgery was a success and my surgeon was skilled and thorough in his operating technique, I was disappointed by his comments during my follow up appointment. I expected a list of do's and don'ts as well as some kind of rehabilitation program or referral to a women's health physiotherapist to continue my recovery after surgery. But there was nothing, not one single recommendation. He just gave me a post-surgery check up then said I was good to go. This didn't feel right to me, so when I pushed him further about exercises I should avoid or exercises I should do his reply was "Oh, nothing in particular, although I wouldn't recommend gymnastics or trampolining". Well no risk of that!
I have no doubt that had I returned to Crossfit or boxing before relaying the foundations of pelvic floor health, then the good work of my surgeon would have come undone.
My pelvic floor and abdominal separation (and hernia which he actually discovered and was missed by previous midwives and physios) still had some way to go in the healing process after my surgery and it was only because I followed my instincts that I saw a physio and started to make progress towards recovery. It was also the catalyst that prompted me to start Go Mum! as I began to research pelvic floor and prolapse safe exercise options and realised that the local mums bootcamp just wasn't going to cut it.
Regardless of whether you have pelvic floor weakness or not, here is my advice for postnatal recovery and getting the most out of your health care providers:
- Have a pelvic floor and abdominal assessment with an experienced women's health physio at around 6-8 weeks postpartum and again at any time something doesn't feel right. If you are not sure what is abnormal or what the signs are for pelvic floor weakness there is a checklist on the Pelvic Floor First website. You can read the sign and symptoms of diastasis recti (abdominal separation) here.
- Don't give up. If you feel the approach your doctor or physio is taking isn't working, or doesn't feel right, get a second opinion. Different practitioners have different levels of experience and different approaches. If you need help finding a continence specialist or women's health physiotherapist, you can try the directory search function on the National Continence Foundation website.
- Trust your instincts. You know your body the best. If it doesn't feel right, then it isn't right.
- Be informed - ask questions. No question is silly or insignificant.
- Be patient. It takes time, patience and a gradual return to exercise to rebuild a stronger, more functional body after pregnancy that will then last you a lifetime. A qualified pregnancy and postnatal trainer or exercise physiologist can help guide you safely during your recovery.
Have you had an experience of good or poor postnatal and post-operative care that you would like to share? I would love to hear it. You are also welcome to contact me should you have any questions about my pregnancy, birth and recovery experiences.
About the Author
You can find her on Facebook or Instagram @GoMumGroupFitness.