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Every woman should have a postnatal assessment with a women's health physio and here's why - Part 1

So you’ve heard you need to have a check up at 6 weeks postpartum with your GP or obstetrician, but have you heard that

a. You should also have one with your women’s health physio

b. They cover different things, and

c. They should be prioritised equally?

So how are they different?

An appointment with your GP or obstetrician will generally cover:

  • Whether your uterus has contracted back down to normal size

  • How your wounds are healing depending on whether you’ve had a vaginal or caesarean section delivery

  • Cessation of lochia (postpartum bleeding)

  • Your mental health

  • Baby’s growth

  • Vaccinations

  • Lactation and how you are going with breastfeeding

  • Birth control and family planning

  • Your general health including a pap smear if it is due

An appointment with your women’s health physio will include:

  • Pelvic floor assessment

  • Prolapse assessment

  • Bladder and bowel function screen including checking for leakage of urine, faeces or wind and constipation

  • Assessment of abdominal muscle separation

  • A musculoskeletal assessment looking at your posture and overall condition including addressing any aches or pains such as back, neck, wrist or pelvic girdle pain

  • A discussion about how to safely return to exercise

  • This assessment is generally conducted at 6 weeks postpartum however, if issues are arising earlier, we encourage women to make an appointment sooner.

What you will get out of your women’s health assessment:

A postpartum assessment with a women’s health physiotherapist will provide you with invaluable knowledge and a plan moving forward to safely and successfully rehabilitate your body after giving birth to your baby. Remember, it isn’t all about trying to fix issues that are currently occurring, but it is just as much about preventing any issues such as prolapse and incontinence arising in the future.

After your appointment you will have a much clearer idea of:

  • Your pelvic floor strength and function with provision of a specific pelvic floor rehabilitation program

  • Your bladder function including addressing any incontinence or urgency

  • Your bowel function including managing issues with irregularity, constipation and straining and discussion about how this may impact your pelvic floor and pelvic organs

  • How to manage any scars you have

  • How to manage painful sex if this becomes an issue for you

  • How to manage any musculoskeletal aches and pains

  • Your core strength and function, including assessment of abdominal muscle separation and provision of a specific postpartum rehabilitation program

  • Whether you have a prolapse and how to manage or prevent this

  • What exercises you should be doing right now and which ones you shouldn’t

  • Exercise modification at different stages of your postpartum journey

  • Whether you require support in the form of a pessary or garments

  • Whether you require further follow up treatment

In our next blog, we’ll discuss what happens at each stage of your women’s health physiotherapy appointment in more depth.

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