I used to say that I wish I knew then what I know now when it comes to childbirth, but my birth experience is what lead me to pelvic health physio in the first place.
I have two beautiful girls, 7 and 5, and my first pregnancy was pretty unremarkable. I did have mild urinary incontinence (bladder leakage) after the birth of my first but nothing I was concerned about at the time. I also used to think it was normal to have some leakage after having babies and that it was just a part of the gig. Then a couple years later when I was pregnant with my second child I had a lingering cough for months and every time I coughed I had some leakage. It was only a small amount at a time but it became very annoying so I started wearing a panti-liner daily. At this point, I still wasn’t too concerned because I was pregnant and figured there was nothing I could do about it.
It wasn’t until after the birth of my second daughter that I grew concerned. Okay, here’s the real embarrassing part of my story that I will share with you. At about eight weeks postpartum when having intercourse with my husband I noticed that things felt….well…a little loose down there. I debated whether to share my concerns with my husband but I asked him, “do things feel different to you?” His reply was a “Yes!”
Luckily that following weekend my pelvic physio friend and colleage was over for a vist and she suggested an intravaginal assessment to determine what was going on. I thought it was totally weird to have my friend down there but was glad I made the choice to go ahead with the examination (and no it’s not that bad at all).
What I learned was quite shocking actually. I learned that I could not longer contract my pelvic floor muscles at all!!! As a physiotherapist with extensive knowledge of the human body and as a woman who thought she knew her body, this was a big surprise. I also learned that I had a pelvic organ prolapse; a rectocele to be exact. This can happen with delivery and is very common. So I couldn’t contract my pelvic floor muscles and my rectum was protruding into my vagina! Sounds gross right? Well it’s unfortunately way too common and if this sounds like you, then you are not alone.
Once I finally figured out how to use my pelvic floor muscles again by essentially doing kegels, my friend gave me a series of progressive exercises to perform. I often did these exercises while nursing my daughter and no word of a lie but within four days, yes four days!, I noticed a huge difference. I was able to contract and hold my pelvic floor muscles and sex was better!!!!
It was that moment that I decided that I needed to learn more about pelvic health physiotherapy and I wanted to be able to help women like me. And that was the very start of my journey into pelvic health physio.