TMI ALERT – I’m going to talk about my pelvic floor.
I definitely ignored everyone telling me to do my pelvic floor exercises when I was pregnant and my god do I know about it now. A combination of laziness, a rose tinted idea of what labour would be like and the blind faith of someone who thought they were relatively young, fit and healthy therefore down there would be fine meant that I just… didn’t do them.
I had crippling SPD and was being monitored for preeclampsia until I was signed off sick at 31 weeks, which was, quite frankly, a blessing. I was a bog standard worker in a place where half the work force and all the senior management team were off long term sick and I somehow ended up unofficially promoted without pay and left to do all the work previously done (or not as the case may be) by the aforementioned staff members. The stress of that, I’m sure, was responsible for the burgeoning preeclampsia and within a fortnight of being signed off the symptoms of that had disappeared. The SPD, however, just got worse and worse as I got heavier. I remember crying in pain trying to make my way round Tesco and waking myself up with the agony of turning over in bed at night. Because I wasn’t pushy enough to make a fuss about the pain, I allowed the community midwives to fob me off with ‘oh it’s normal,’ and as a result I limited my movement as much as possible, meaning instead of staying fit and active during pregnancy, which was my original intention, I… well. I didn’t.
My labour was intense and fast given it was my first time. It took 12 hours to get to 4cm dilated but only 40 minutes active labour resulting in no one believing me when I said I needed to push. 20 minutes after I said that, I was holding my son in my arms, completely off my face with elation and exhaustion and not registering the fact that my feet were in stirrups despite having chronic SPD.
Fast forward 20 months and my hips still give me trouble. It’s only in the last month or so that I can lift my leg up so my thigh is horizontal to the floor without pain. I have to make sure I sit straight or my hips hurt the next day – I’m in no doubt that I’m permanently damaged. Cheers Child! The thing that worries me more though, and was the original point of this post, is my pelvic floor.
I used to be Queen of holding it in. Even as a child I had excellent bladder control. Pushing out my seven pound son at a speed of knots has taken its toll, though, and I fear I’ll never again be able to stem the flow of wee by clenching. At the grand old age of thirty, I’m seriously considering investing in panty liners, except having just typed panty liners and cringed I really don’t think I can do it. It is alarming, though, that I just can’t hold it anymore. The morning wee is brutal in its insistence and many a time I have run (shuffled) downstairs with a little bit escaping down my leg.
I warned you – Too Much Information.
There have been times when I’ve breastfed on the toilet because The Urge came on mid feed and, certainly in the early days of cosleeping, I had to regularly weigh up the advantages of potentially disturbing a sleeping baby over pissing the bed. Actually, I’m lying about the early days bit – I’m often in my little boys bed at the moment thanks to assorted nursery-caught illnesses, so it’s almost worse now. Who in their right mind wants to disturb a poorly toddler who’s finally sleeping after being up every 90 minutes sobbing?? The struggle is real. So far, the bathroom has won every time but as sleep deprivation continues and the old pelvic floor shows no signs of improving, I’m conscious that one day I might just choose that extra half hour in bed.
I also think that if I had paid more attention to my pelvic floor post labour my hips might have fared a bit better, as working your pelvic muscles can help core stability I think? So by doing one I could help the other… and now I find myself incredibly bloody broody but harbouring the very real fear that I would lose any sense of control I have left at the moment after pushing a second child out. Even without a second AnonyMini, the prospect of walking around with the threat of slightly damp knickers for the rest of my life leaves me unenthused… which brings me back to my previous panty liner issue.
The big question is, do I stand a chance of returning to anywhere near my pre birth state or is this my new normal? Have I left it too late or are there exercises to help even two years down the line? I understand that there are gadgets available, but thanks to a particularly brutal Chief Midwife inserting the pessary when my cervix really wasn’t up for visitors, the idea of shoving anything else up there results in clenching and cringing. Perhaps I could use the idea of insertion to aid my pelvic floor??