Strong as a Mother

Nearly 6 years on after having my daughter and only now am I confident enough to test my body and make it work to its limits. To become stronger than I have ever been and change my mindset. When you say something for long enough you begin to believe it and after years of saying ‘I can’t lift too heavy, because of my prolapse’ it becomes ingrained in you and you begin to accept that this is it now. Being scared and fearful that you will make anything worse ‘down there’. When the truth is, we can challenge the status quo, not getting caught up in conservative, outdated information and every mum, including YOU, can achieve whatever it is you are striving for.


In 2020 I was part of a study by the incredible Lori Forner, who is a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist in Brisbane. She gave me an internal and measured where my organs were sitting and my pelvic floor strength, both in laying down and standing positions. The objective of the study was to discover the impact (if any) strength training has on the pelvic floor. I went on to squat 5 reps of 55kg for 5 sets, pretty much my body weight and afterwards was measured and tested again for any changes within my pelvic region. And guess what, there was NO change! This was an extremely positive outcome to observe and learn, especially when I’ve been known to say things like ‘my body feels broken’.



We compare our bodies to before having children, what they were once capable of and it can be a grieving process. Once we have taken the time to feel and move through the emotions, it is when we can start to heal and create anything we set our minds to. Embracing this version of ourselves and designing a body that we LOVE.


Even though I have a prolapse (a pelvic organ prolapse is when one or more organs bulge into the wall of the vagina, which can be caused by childbirth and having a family history of it can also increase the risk), it’s now part of who I am and I’m totally at peace with it. Not everyone will know they have one because sometimes having one doesn’t show any symptoms. That is why a gradual, phase based return to exercise program is really important to prevent this from happening.


Some of the red flags to be aware of are heaviness or dragging sensation of the pelvic region (this is expected late pregnancy/early postpartum) although if this doesn’t go away, could indicate something more. Another sign is urge/stress incontinence (when you need to wee all the time or leak when you sneeze/jump). Sometimes we accept this as being normal after childbirth and even though it is common, it is not normal. Additionally, there may be the inability to orgasm, or pain during intercourse.


The pelvic floor is an internal muscle which supports the bladder, uterus and bowel. During pregnancy this carries extra load and after child birth is stretched to its limits and pelvic floor exercises are prescribed where the pelvic floor is engaged in isolation to build up the strength. While these have their place as a conscious kegal, it is important to integrate the diaphragm, abdominals and back muscles too. Our body works as a system and for it to work optimally, exercising functionally inclusive of pelvic floor activation is not only more efficient, it will provide more strength and improve any imbalances. By adding it into your functional exercise training regime 2-3 times per week will contribute to a healthy core unit.


Let me share with you the 3E rule:

Exhale

Engage

Exertion

This can be applied to any exercise, for this example I will use a squat.

Descent into a squat as you inhale, at the bottom of the squat begin to exhale, then engage pelvic floor as you rise to standing (being the hardest part of the exercise). Try not to hold your breath at any point and always exhale and engage on exertion.


In summary...

The best thing I encourage you to do no matter how old your kids are is MOVE your body as a whole, building strength and fitness resulting in a body that can manage a prolapse, opposed to living a sedentary lifestyle with much more health risks. I’d love to share a free suite of exercise sessions with you, suitable for all ages and stages. You can download them here and they’ll be in your inbox in a matter of seconds.


Yours in health, happiness and connection,

Rach xx





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