My blog post this month is written from the heart. March is a sad month for me as it was at this beautiful time of year we lost our mum suddenly to heart failure.
This is the double reason why I am passionate about improving post natal care for new mums as not everyone has their mum to lean on – Mums Matter.
I have always been an empathetic and compassionate person. This was one of my excellent qualities that shone through when I worked as a NHS physiotherapist for 12 years.
I understand that HOW YOU FEEL can massively impact HOW YOU FUNCTION and live.
I have battled with overwhelm and fatigue from caring so deeply about my work. It is one of the reasons that led me to leave the NHS and start up my own business. To create a better work life balance around my little boy.
As The Pilates Physio, I still possess the quality of caring for all my clients. But sometimes, that just doesn’t feel enough.
When I started out in business I felt frustrated that I couldn’t reach out to more ladies with the knowledge and skills that I have. Working on my own had its challenges. Midwives did not want to work with me as I wasn’t NHS anymore. NHS physiotherapists did not want to work with me as I was seen as a threat to their business despite offering different things. NCT felt that yoga and Pilates were too similar to be able to share my availability.
Determined to make a difference I continued with my quest and thought laterally. I approached my local Mothercare store and was delighted when they invited me to be a guest speaker at their expectant parent events.
With word of mouth my business steadily grew and life seemed better. I started seeing a nutritional therapist who helped me with my diet to improve my immune system, reduce my fatigue and boost my energy and within six months we fell pregnant.
Having a baby was not on my radar after losing my mum. I struggled so much when my little boy was born even with the help of my mum. Having a baby without her seemed impossible.
We decided it would be nice for our little boy to have a brother/sister for company growing up. When my mum passed away I don’t think I would have come through those dark days without my brother or sister’s support.
And so, four years on from mum dying, we now have a beautiful five month old daughter. She is like an angel sent from heaven and has made me feel whole again.
It was from giving birth for the second time that my eyes were well and truly opened to the huge void in post natal care here in the UK for mums.
As a women’s health trained physiotherapist I am well informed about the care I “could” and “should” be getting. I found myself on the receiving end of NO care what so ever.
I realised I needed to do something much bigger than I could achieve on my own. I reached out for help and advice from other strong women who are bringing about change in pregnancy and ante-natal care. A little voice whispered start a petition, create a group.
Having a newborn, it took me a while to get this idea in motion, BUT I finally did. I started asking questions on my Facebook page about other peoples experiences and realised I am not on my own here. Other mums were also feeling abandoned and unsure of what they could and should be doing.
Someone posted that they agreed something needed to be done about this but it was an impossible task. This motivated me more than ever. “Just watch me” I thought.
I can do this. I can create a positive change.
With that small seed of motivation sprung my social media campaign #mumsmatter and I created a petition. The response to which has been overwhelming.
I have found my calling.
To improve post natal care for all women.
To create a change in post natal care.
To empower, educate, transform and inspire others to follow suit.
The birth of my daughter allowed me to experience the “patient” role. It opened my eyes to the “inside world”.
I had a planned C-section due to placenta complications at the end of my pregnancy. I also developed a hospital acquired chest infection during my inpatient stay before hand.
Sometimes being a physiotherapist works in my favour and other times it does not as I know too much medical information.
Major abdominal surgery + chest infection = cough = pain.
To be sent home with no pain relief and told to take my own paracetamol and ibuprofen was in my eyes unfair.
Correct me if I’m wrong here, but I doubt others who have major abdominal surgery such as a laparotomy for example, go home being told to take their own paracetamol and ibuprofen?
The extra kick in the teeth was being discharged at a weekend, contacting my GP surgery on the Monday for extra pain relief to be told they had no discharge papers from my admission and to ring back tomorrow! Day four post surgery – I was in agony.
To make matters even worse I received a letter about a week after from my GP saying that unless I had “persistent pain or bleeding or wanted contraception” a six week post natal check up was not required.
What the dickens was going on???
As a women’s health physiotherapist, we actively advise post natal ladies to wait until their six week GP check up before commencing any exercise. To hear this wasn’t happening for some ladies to me was horrifying.
This is why:
Post natal ladies are vulnerable. They may have had birth trauma with perineal injuries. The crazy amount of hormones flying around your body can make you question your sanity at the best of times.
Your body feels different. It may feel heavy, bulky, tired, not yours. You may have scar tissue concerns, tummy muscle obscurities and weakness, stretch marks that contribute to a weakened tummy or pelvic pains that you are not sure are normal or not.
Then there’s the losing control of your bladder or even worse, bowels. You may not be able to control your wind or find yourself wet if you cough, sneeze or laugh a lot. Incontinence is a huge post natal issue coupled with prolapse for many.
Post natal women NEED follow up post natal care.
It is so, so important.
It will prevent lots of problems with pelvic floor issues, pelvic organ prolapse, abdominal separation, exercising safely post baby, reducing pelvic pain and so much more.
So many women are keen to regain their pre-pregnancy body and so many women are mis-informed how to do this safely. Once post natal, always post natal when it comes to exercise.
My mission is to educate.
My mission is to empower.
My mission is to transform.
My mission is to inspire.
My mission is #mumsmatter and to get better post natal care for all women.
Here is to a positive change for future mums and to getting women’s health physiotherapist’s on the front line to help.
My vision is for post natal mums to be offered a follow up check up with a women’s health physiotherapist. Like you expect to see a midwife, lets expect to see a physio.
Their help will make a huge difference, I am certain.
If you had any post natal care with a women’s health physio I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment on my blog or message me at firstname.lastname@example.org
2018 is the year of the woman.
Change is possible and within reach.
Let’s grasp it.
If you would like to sign my petition it is active until September 2018, just CLICK HERE.
Marie Fell is the founder of The Pilates Physio here in the UK. She is a qualified physiotherapist with over 12 years NHS experience in a wide array of specialisms and her passion lies in Posture, Pilates and the Pelvic floor! I am dedicated to helping empower ladies and gents to remain fit and active through class or 1:1 private Pilates/physiotherapy sessions. My mission is to empower, inspire and educate others to move freely and keep healthy and teaching Pilates with a clinician’s hat on allows me the best of both worlds.