6 week postpartum check ups. These are so important and so under-rated and dare I say, under-delivered by most.
After giving birth to your baby you will receive a check up with your doctor, GP or private midwife (depending on your level of care), when you are 6 weeks postpartum. At these appointments you will receive a general physical exam to check on your recovery. They may check your blood pressure, take blood tests to check your iron levels, and touch base with how you’re recovering after giving birth. All great stuff that needs to be noted and taken care of.
Where we find you benefit even more is taking your post-partum check-up to the next level. This is what our pelvic health osteopaths do at Total Balance. Our pelvic health osteopaths (Loz, Simmone, Sarah and Bec) have completed further extensive training, which allows us to thoroughly examine and treat the pelvis – both externally and internally, and link it all to functional daily activities (or lack there of).
This is then where we come in! Pelvic health osteopaths are trained in the extensive assessment of your pelvis, which includes the internal and external assessment of your pelvic floor muscles. Too often we hear of women who begin to feel great following the birth of their babies, and get back into their pre-baby exercise routine without getting a pelvic floor assessment. This quick return to exercise and activity without a pelvic floor assessment can sometimes lead to the development of symptoms such as urinary and bowel leakage, urinary or bowel incontinence, and pelvic floor bulging or prolapses.
So what does a 6-week postpartum check up with pelvic health osteopaths look like?
Your pelvic health appointment will begin with an extensive history-taking to discuss various aspects of your health. We will talk about your pregnancy and delivery, and provide you with the space you need to debrief – the labour and birthing journeys don’t always go the way we expect and it is important to acknowlegde this. Next, we will discuss common symptoms that postpartum women experience, such as bowel and bladder changes, leakage and incontinence, and constipation. We will ask about any new symptoms you may have begun noticing after delivery, such as bulging or heaviness through the perineum region – these symptoms may indicate a prolapse.
After a long discussion, we will explain your options for examination and treatment. A common misconception we find women have is that you must have an internal vaginal assessment to begin your recovery journey. This is not the case. An internal assessment of your pelvic floor does provide us with the most detailed information, but we are still able to gain a lot of information from (and provide rehab for), women who opt for an external examination instead.
For an internal vaginal examination, we will leave the room to let you get changed and provide you with a drape to cover yourself with. We want you to feel as comfortable as possible throughout the treatment. If you feel comfortable to, and after an extensive amount of consent, we will examine your perineum externally and ask you to do some pelvic floor activations, and bearing down actions. Following this we will do an internal vaginal assessment to further assess your pelvic floor.
What is my pelvic health osteopath looking for during their assessment?
During our external and/or internal pelvic health assessments we are looking at your recovery holistically. The things we look at are:
- Healing of caesarian section, episiotomy scars, and perineal tear scars, and check for any signs of infection
- Recovery of any common antenatal perineal changes such as varicose veins, anal fissures or haemorrhoids
- Signs of vaginal wall laxity or uterine, bowel or bladder prolapses
- Pelvic floor muscle strength; checking for any weakness or overactivity through these muscles
- Your abdominal muscle separation (DRAM)
After our thorough assessment we will create a treatment and recovery plan for you, depending on what we find and what your goals are. We can give you:
- Pelvic floor muscle strength programs
- Strategies to combat constipation (which is a very common antenatal complaint that can lead to other pelvic health concerns such as urinary leakage and incontinence, haemorrhoids, and prolapses)
- Advice in regards to urinary leakage or urgency
- Core and abdominal muscle separation rehabiltation
- Strength, stability and rehabilitation programs to get you back to your exercise goals, whether it be walking, pilates, yoga, gym, running and more!
We really encourage all postpartum women to have a 6-week pelvic health check, to ensure that they are recovering well from delivery, to discuss any symptoms they are experiencing, and to provide specific rehab exercises depending on their level of strength through their pelvic floor. We love being able to get our new mum’s back to feeling their best after having a baby, and help them reach their goals whether it be fitness, activity, or health related!
If you have any questions about pelvic health osteopathy and postpartum check ups, please give the clinic a call on (03) 9773 8085. We would love to help you get back to feeling your best after giving birth! Alternatively, click here to book an appointment online.
Have a great week!
Bec @ Total Balance Healthcare
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This blog post is an educational tool only. It is not a replacement for medical advice from a registered and qualified doctor or health professional.
Phone: (03) 9773 8085