Today is International Day of the Midwife and midwives around the world are deservedly being recognised and celebrated for the wonderful work they do in supporting women through pregnancy and childbirth.
The role of a midwife isn’t just limited to delivering babies; according to the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) website “A midwife is usually the first and main contact for the woman during her pregnancy, throughout labour and the early postnatal period.”
There is no doubt that midwives work extremely hard to support the women in their care, but a Mumsnet survey released yesterday 4th May reported a whole range of problems that postnatal women experience in the UK including:
61% of women unable to access food when they needed it;
45% unable to access pain relief when they needed it;
22% unable to access water when they needed it;
19% unable to access washing facilities when needed.
Cathy Warwick, Chief Exec of the RCM said in response “For women the postnatal period can often be a very difficult time and this is when the highest level of care and support is needed most… It can also be an extremely exhausting and worrying time particularly for first-time mothers.
Much more investment is needed to help us achieve the best outcomes for both mother and baby.”
My question is this: if, because of shortages in funding and staff numbers, midwives struggle to provide even the most basic of services, are any of them able to offer any kind of pelvic floor and core advice at all?
- Who is teaching postnatal women how to breathe freely when their rib cage has moved and their diaphragm has been restricted by their growing baby?
- Who is teaching postnatal women how to correct their posture when their centre of gravity has changed and muscles all over their bodies have stretched or tightened in response, leaving them stiff, stuck and sore?
- Who is teaching postnatal women how to sit, stand and move about their day in a way that is protective of their pelvic floor and abdominal muscles, so they can take care of their baby and their own body?
- Who is teaching postnatal women safe and effective pelvic floor exercises that go beyond “squeezing as if you were stopping a wee” and that actually work for real life?
- Who is teaching postnatal women about diastasis recti, how to heal it, how to stop it getting worse and why it’s only a part of the postnatal recovery picture?
- Who is teaching postnatal women that sleep, rest and nutrition are more important to postnatal recovery than exercise?
- Who is teaching postnatal women that, despite what their friends, family, husbands/partners, and even their doctors are telling them, going for a run is NOT the best way to lose the ‘baby weight’, and can make their diastasis and pelvic floor problems worse, along with sit-ups, crunches and planks?
- Who is teaching postnatal women which exercises they can do safely at the start of their journey back to ‘normal’ exercise?
Breathing and posture might sound insignificant; attempting to rest and eat nutritious food with a new-born a distant dream; and the pull to get back to the gym or go for a run can be irresistible for many women.
We have health professionals advising women that they are ‘safe to exercise’ at a six-week check, when they haven’t even put their hands on the mother to see if she has a diastasis, let alone a weak pelvic floor.
There are PTs in the gym advising postnatal women to do repetitive core exercises that can make a weak pelvic floor weaker, and a diastasis recti worse; pushing them harder and harder when what they really need is restorative, targeted, pelvic floor-safe, non impact exercise at a pace that is right for them.
Women should make their own healthcare choices during and after their pregnancy, but without access to proper and up to date information, how can they?
As an Holistic Core Restore® Coach, I can help. Our team around the world advise, support and educate pregnant, postnatal, and way beyond women about their pelvic & core health. We work with some of the top Women’s Health Professionals in the UK and around the world to deliver the most outstanding courses that deliver real results. We can provide answers to all those questions above.
If you would like to understand the latest research into exercise and nutrition that can support your body from postnatal to post-menopause, please visit my site here and get in touch.