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Clare

Clare
The first time i beat ten boats in the nationals!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Mothers Are Important Too

I attended my 6 week check right on 6 weeks at the doctor, and paid $60 just to be asked how my boobs are feeling, and then we moved on to all the baby tests. I have also been attending "Parents Group" (aka mothers group, not even one dad in the room) at my local Early Childhood centre for 5 weeks. The way this particular centre works, is every week has a new topic and a professional to come and talk about it. So far we have covered baby settling, baby feeding, baby sickness, playgroup, and baby massage.

I have one question after all these week's of education; What about ME?!



 Not to take anything away from the need to educate new parents on the health of their child, there is an obvious disregard for the woman's mental and physical health post-baby. With Post Natal depression such a massive problem, no one has asked how i feel or how i am coping. No one has checked how i am doing physically. I am lucky enough to have an intimate understanding of these issues, and i have access to a gym that can test for common post-natal problems, but what about the other 20 women in my group, and the hundreds of others across the state and nationally?

I will start with the 6 week check at the doctor. It is a PT's duty of care to wait for this check before training a client. But why bother when the muscle testing we do at the gym is a million times more thorough?

At the Early Childhood Centre, they educate the mum's on the best practices for their baby's health, and then the mum goes home and gets frustrated with dad, who has not got access to this education (since someone has to work, and in the first 4-6mths of a baby's life this will logically be the dad, and then they schedule the sessions for 10am on a weekday....) and makes the same mistakes as she made weeks ago!

Then they completely disregard the mum's health, mentally and physically, by not even considering it important enough to address. How many of these women are incontinent at the moment? The Continence Foundation of Australia find that 37% of women have a problem with incontinence, and 70% of these never seek help. That is HUGE! The only information that is readily accessible is TEVA commercials which basically say that you have to live with it and buy their product so you don't embarrass yourself!

You can treat incontinence very effectively with adequate education and training. It is simply a muscle weakness for most people.

Incontinence aside, back pain is another serious issue for the Post Natal mother. The hormone Relaxin is still doing its magic while you're breastfeeding, and the effect of this for many women is loose joints that become inflamed and cause pain. Adequate abdominal and butt muscle strength is necessary to maintain back and pelvic health, but again, there is no advice on this. Many women lose the ability to contract these muscles

with the structural changes that occurred during pregnancy, so even if they begin to try and strengthen them, they cannot access the correct muscles to contract, and end up "compensating" with alternate muscles. Many women simply

never use those muscles again, and they disintegrate with disuse. This can increase the woman's risk of injury later down the track (like when you're trying to lift a 15kg toddler).

Another issue, with breastfeeding being virtually impossible to achieve with good posture, is chronic neck and shoulder pain caused by bad posture. Like incontinence, this is a muscle issue, and can be trained back into pain-free shape!

And what about reducing body fat? Did you realise that exercising too soon can impact the way in which your pelvis fuses back together and leave you with chronically uneven hips (the consequences of which is damaged hip sockets leading to arthritis, bursitis, or chronic hip, back, or knee pain)? Did you realise what and how you eat directly affects not only your baby, but their children and grandchildren?

The first thing i asked the midwives that came to visit after the birth was to check my abdominal separation and pelvic floor contraction. Even then, in the hospital, you have to line up for a physio to do these checks.

I am so proud that at my little studio, we can test for, and address, all of these issues. Even from a mental health perspective, exercise has been shown to improve serotonin levels (happy hormones), decrease cortisol levels (stress hormones) and, in this way, help combat depression.

If anyone has not had their muscles checked after having a baby, please contact Galileo PT galileopt@unwired.com.au or 02 9905 4144, to arrange it. It takes about 10min, it's free, and you can then access training to correct any problems that the tests uncover.

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