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What is pelvic floor rehabilitation and why are French women better treated than English women?

Throughout their life, a women’s body undergoes many changes and thus especially during pregnancy. This is why it is important to be aware of the role of your pelvic floor, and here’s why!

What is the pelvic floor and what does it do?

The pelvic floor is composed of three muscles that support organs such as the bladder, the female genitalia and the rectum, allowing them to be maintained. Pelvic floor muscles contractions also can ensure women’s continence and play a major role in the quality of sensations during sexual intercourse. With a massive effect on every day’s physical comfort, the pelvic floor is one of the most important parts of the female anatomy. During pregnancy, the pelvic floor goes through a lot: along those 9 months, the growing weight brings pressure, weakens and stretches the pelvic floor muscles. Childbirth is also a relatively traumatic moment for the pelvic floor as it contributes to tone loss. So how can you learn to strenghten your pelvic floor muscles before, during and after pregnancy?

Pelvic floor rehabilitation

The first step in pelvic floor rehabilitation is to learn to be aware of your pelvic floor: its role, location and sensation. The aim is to understand the pelvic floor’s functions in order to be able to follow toning or relaxation exercises properly, depending on whether your pelvic floor muscles are too weak or too tonic. Pelvic floor rehabilitation always starts with an assessment where the physiotherapist will create a personal exercise plan tailored to your needs. You will learn a series of exercises in different position and increasing intensity that you will be able to perform at home on a daily basis. After 4 to 6 weeks of rehabilitation sessions, your pelvic floor will be able to hold all its functions efficiently and you will avoid future issues. You can start prenatal pelvic floor rehabilitation sessions with a women’s health physiotherapist before delivery in order to gain control of your muscles. In this case, you will learn to relax your pelvic floor in order to avoid as much pain as possible, but also to reduce the risk of episiotomy during childbirth. 6 to 8 weeks after giving birth, it is time for postnatal pelvic floor rehabilitation, which starts with a global and personalised assessment by the physiotherapist to check your postpartum physical condition and to define the type of exercises you need.

What can pelvic floor rehabilitation prevent or treat?

  • Incontinence:

When the pelvic floor loses its tone, one of the most common consequences is involuntary urine leakage or stress incontinence, which can be very uncomfortable in women’s life.

  • Prolapse:

As explained earlier, the pelvic floor ensures the maintenance of the genital organs. A weakened pelvic floor can cause a descent of these organs (prolapse), which can be experienced as a feeling of heaviness in the lower abdomen, discomfort when walking, urinary incontinence or even painful intercourse.

  • Lack of sensation or pain during sex:

If the pelvic floor is too tight and lacks flexibility, pain during sex may be experienced. It can also be too relaxed due to the intense use of the muscles during childbirth, and therefore not give any sensation during intercourse.

What French physiotherapy brought to the UK

While postnatal recovery in the UK involves a very general assessment of women’s condition a few weeks after birth, French physiotherapy makes a point of implementing pelvic floor rehabilitation to treat or prevent factors that may intervene post-birth. This is to ensure a full recovery of the pelvic floor’s functions, which is more than beneficial for every woman.

Postnatal rehabilitation in the UK

In the UK, there is no routine referral to a pelvic health physiotherapist after delivery, unless there is a diagnosis of a 3-4 degrees tear or if the delivery was difficult (very big baby, use of forceps…) The postnatal period consists mainly of a very general check-up done by the GP 6 weeks after birth, without any examination of the pelvic floor muscles. In addition, the waiting time in the NHS is considerably long if you need a referral for pelvic floor physiotherapy.

Postnatal rehabilitation in France

In France, the postnatal period also consists of a check-up after 6 weeks with the obstetrician who automatically refers for 10 pelvic floor rehabilitation sessions, followed by a specialised postnatal physiotherapist. The rehabilitation program can not only treat the postnatal conditions but also act as a prevention to avoid the appearance of symptoms. Postnatal rehabilitation after each delivery with pelvic strengthening exercises monitored by a physiotherapist – whether there are conditions to be treated or simply in terms of prevention, helps avoid long-term consequences that could affect daily life later on

Postnatal check-up

Women who do not get a postnatal assessment or do not undergo rehabilitation after giving birth are more likely to suffer from pelvic floor problems during future pregnancies or when pelvic floor muscles become weaker later in life (especially with age). It is therefore important to at least check your pelvic floor’s condition after each pregnancy. For mums who want to know exactly the state of their physical condition after pregnancy, it’s always a good idea to have a full postnatal check-up (also known as Mummy MOT) where the postnatal physio will examine your body from head to toe; whether it’s your neck, shoulders, back, tummy, posture, hips… The physiotherapist will also assess your abdominal muscles in order to detect a potential separation (diastasis recti) and may give you a personalised treatment or advices on how to firm up your tummy. The physio will also check your pelvic floor muscle tone to ensure that there is no present pathology related to muscle weakness. The pelvic floor plays a very important role in women’s physical health and is put to the test during pregnancy and childbirth. It also matters in every aspect of your life to strengthen it when it becomes weaker and loses its sensitivity. For this, French pelvic floor rehabilitation techniques will bring you comfort and a healthy body at any stage of your life.

Article source: Pelvic floor rehabilitation: https://www.mummysphysio.com/ante-postnatal/pelvic-floor-rehabilitation/

For more information about French pelvic floor rehabilitation in London, contact: Mummy’s Physio London

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