This Mother’s Day is life changing like no other.
I’m grateful she is alive.
Recently, my mother spent 8 days in the COVID-19 isolation unit, all while never contracting the virus.
It was in the early days of the spread, while the world was still operating in a pre-pandemic state. The lock-down hadn’t started and the complexities of what was coming were not yet realised. We spent time in the isolation room with her covered in personal protective equipment, pre-shutdown. Another week was spent in total isolation providing life-saving medical care.
She requires ongoing support. This remains complex under the current physical distancing guidelines.
Thankfully we anticipate a full recovery. It highlights what’s important and valuable in your life. You connect with your purpose and realign with your values. In addition, you realise what you take for granted, your health, your Mum, your life.
As a health professional, I observe this pattern in my patients.
When something dramatic happens to you, family or friend, people take quick and decisive action. However in chronic health conditions, there’s a pause. A lingering sense of, I’ll deal with that later, it’s not that bad, or it will go away. This could be a long term life-threatening condition (eg. type 2 diabetes) or an issue dramatically affecting quality of life.
A common, but overlooked health issue your Mum (or you) may be experiencing is a pelvic floor problem.
It’s often silent suffering; incontinence, pelvic pain, prolapses. Uncomfortable jokes are made when someone crosses their legs while coughing or laughing. It’s one of the most common complaints affecting women, while under-recognised in men.
1 in 3 Australian postnatal women have incontinence or long lasting pelvic floor issues, rising to 70% of women in aged care facilities. (And the figures don’t appear to be getting better.)
Impact Of Pelvic Floor Problems
While variable on an individual level, some or all may occur:
- Emotional impact of incontinence
- Exercise avoidance
- Reduced social contact
- Intimacy and sex difficulties
- Financial consequences – cost of products can be $1000’s per year, reported impact on employment opportunities
- Limiting self-confidence
Inadequate early intervention and symptom progression may be linked to:
- increased urinary tract infections
- abscess or fistula
- Increased surgery (& associated risks)
Prolapse reconstructive surgery doesn’t show favourable long term results. The problem often returns.
Early Intervention Improves Outcomes
The earlier it’s addressed, the better potential long term impact.
- Pelvic floor exercises
- Dietary changes – hydration, fibre, reduced caffeine/citrus
- Low impact exercise
- Avoid constipation
How simple is that? Firstly we need to get better at having a chat about the pelvic floor, without shame or embarrassment. This chat may be with a family member or friend, trusted health advisor.
Important Considerations For Health Professionals
- We can get better at this conversation- initiating, asking questions.
- Take it seriously and give implementable advice, assess or refer.
- Don’t fall into the trap of “it’s normal for your age” or “you’ve just had a baby”.
- Recognise subtle requests for help.
Minimising or dismissing issues now can mean they’re ignored for months or years. Be the encouraging and attentive practitioner you were born (or at least, trained) to be. Your patients will thank you for it.
Advice If You’re Experiencing A Problem
Options for next steps, find your best fit.
- Visit an Osteopath or Physiotherapist working within this area of practice.
- Chat to your GP
- In some instances, a visit to a specialist, a Gynaecologist or Gastroenterologist or Urologist may be recommended.
This may feel tricky right now, or you’re not ready for that. You can seek support, empowering education and have a giggle with Laugh No Leaks.
Developed by health professionals, we empower people to take their health into their own hands and build confidence and strength in their body. Age, internal device (such as a pessary or IUD) or requiring pelvic surgery is no barrier.
May this unique Mother’s Day be an opportunity to re-calibrate, appreciate the important people in our life’s and while health is front of mind, ask questions, identify health concerns and take action.
You won’t regret it. Come and check out our free content and in return we would love to hear from you.