Let's remove the TABOO

POP at 30 / Story at 32

I had my first baby during level 3 lockdown in May 2020. He was a beautiful healthy boy, but my body ended up in not such a healthy state. My labour didn’t go smoothly from the start and unfortunately, after pushing for over two hours, I had nothing left in the tank. An episiotomy was performed and I needed some assistance with ventouse extraction. This did not save my perineum like it was meant to. I suffered grade 3b tearing and spent over two hours in theatre being repaired while my husband and our midwife looked after our wee boy. I had medical complications, was in and out of hospital and had a long recovery, so I didn’t seek any assessment or treatment for my pelvic floor and organs until approximately a year later.

I was suffering incontinence and discomfort and heaviness in my pelvic region so I had an assessment with a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist. She told me that I had an avulsion of the right side of my levator ani muscle, an anterior wall and level 3 apical prolapse. I knew something wasn’t quite right, but I wasn’t expecting it to be that bad!

I am a physiotherapist myself and I thought I had pretty good body awareness, but this put me in my place! I feel very passionate about pelvic health and after additional training have now become a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist so I can help others with their pelvic floors. I provide education before, during and after pregnancy and to men and women who have issues with their pelvic floors and organs for other reasons.

There are things I wish I knew during my pregnancy and before giving birth, like the risk factors for perineal tears and how to protect your perineum. I will always wonder if my outcomes would have been the same if I was able to implement some of these techniques. I also wonder if a non-physio would have been provided with this information. Seeing I was in the physio profession, was I expected to “know it”?

Pelvic health is a specialised area which I now have understanding of, but we should be providing this education ideally pre-pregnancy or at least during pregnancy. I work on my pelvic floor exercises three times a day and my symptoms are better. I know that I will need to continue with pelvic floor training for the rest of my life. I am still unable to run or do Pilates, but I hope that if I keep getting stronger, I will be able to return to these things because I miss them in my life. I walk almost every day and do yoga at least once a week – and chasing around and lifting a 16-month-old multiple times a day keeps me active!

We need to talk about these issues more. We need to get assessed and treated for our symptoms more. We need to remove the TABOO!