pelvic floor dysfunction women

Born Again Mama Bodies

4556551742_4e30fb0355_z Hi all! Lately I've had a bundle of diastasis recti questions coming my way from new and veteran mama friends, and also from mama FFF readers. Many of those conversations have ended with this statement, "Well if you don't recommend splinting what do you recommend?" Which would lead into a conversation about alignment and breath, and well, a whole lot of other stuff. It's kind of a long conversation, so I was hoping to find someone whose postpartum conversation was right on the money. As the fates would have it, this coincided with discovering Wendy Powell and her Mutu System, and she was gracious enough to donate a guest post to the blog here. So here is what you've been craving straight from the expert's mouth! Thanks for all your great questions and keep them coming. You all know who you are- and this post is dedicated to you!

Enter Wendy: 

Many mums have had a light-bulb moment when they realize that postpartum recovery hasn’t got an awful lot to do with the race to fit into skinny jeans. It has a lot more to do with being whole again:

  • Walking without pain
  • Exercising without leaking
  • Lifting your child without hurting
  • Being able to keep your innards IN

MuTu System programs have been created to offer a body and mind re-boot. I’ve learned that this is desperately needed, from my own personal and professional experience, and from conversations with hundreds of mums.

What Matters to Mums?

That light-bulb moment I mentioned? It usually hits us around about the time we put our back out lifting our child, or we wet ourselves a bit when we sneeze, or we try to do abdominal crunches and notice our tummy doming (yes, that’ll be your vital organs poking through your weak abdominal wall).

Our bodies tell us in no uncertain terms that our jellified tummy is the least of our worries. Right about then, we stop Googling ‘baby bulge diets’ and start searching for ‘how to fix a pelvic floor’.

And that’s a really good change in priorities!

InfographicV4Back to Basics

So how can we get our body back to its best, inside and out?

On the surface, there are two problems to overcome: pelvic floor weakness and diastasis recti (abdominal separation).

Linked to this unstable core, mums may be suffering from back pain or pelvic floor dysfunction (which could mean urine leakage, faecal incontinence, pelvic pain, pelvic organ prolapse and hernia). And they may be stuck with ‘mummy tummy’, unable to firm up and strengthen their mid-section.

While initially caused by making room for and supporting a growing baby in the uterus, these issues are exacerbated after childbirth by excessive intra-abdominal pressure. The healing process can’t start until the pressure lowers in the abdominal cavity – and to do that, we need to check our alignment.

Misalignment is a brick wall in the face of post-natal wellness – it’s what prevents intra-abdominal pressure from returning to normal after giving birth.

If your body was not aligned properly before having babies, it sure as hell isn’t afterwards. Any glitches in our alignment and musculature that have crept up on us over the years are aggravated by that monumentally physically demanding process.

To reduce pressure, many of us need to start from square one: learning how to walk and breathe right. That is the first step to full post-partum recovery.

New Foundations

Breathing right, standing right, walking right, learning how to connect our minds to the muscles of our core and pelvic floor, so that we use them with every move we make: none of this can be skipped.

Focused core exercises have their place – and intensive workouts too when your body is ready – but it’s the day to day stuff that is crucial.

Alignment, breathing, moving a lot and in the right way: That’s your pelvic floor pension plan right there.

Getting Bodies to ‘Just Do It’

There is a lot of gadgetry in this industry – pelvic floor toning devices and belly binding splints remain popular ‘solutions’ to diastasis recti and pelvic floor dysfunction.

I’m not here to pour water on other techniques, I can only tell you what I believe – which is that bodies are capable of being strong, mobile and fit for life. They can do it on their own, with a little bit of commitment on our part.

The mental connection is important. Lots of mums understandably ‘switch off’ from ‘down below’ after giving birth: It doesn’t feel right and (if they dare to look) it sure as hell doesn’t look right. It’s a lost cause.

The brain needs to talk to the muscles to activate them. It needs to open up the dialogue again. Simply sucking in your stomach, or using a splint, is not the same as activating your core. It does nothing to strengthen or tighten the muscles to help them work properly on their own.

In fact, sucking in, or binding, displaces mass upwards and downwards like a tube of toothpaste squeezed in the middle, placing more pressure on the diaphragm and pelvic floor – doing the opposite of what we want to achieve.

Fighting Fit

Weirdly, having babies is a chance to get fully fit: our post-natal‘ re-boot’ is often the thing that helps us re-focus our energies on wellness. Not just looking good, but feeling energetic and having a body that works.

So many mums tell me that their post-natal fight back was the start of a better lifestyle for them. They come to know and love and respect their bodies in a way they never did before. The skinny jeans are just a bonus.


About the Author

Wendy_Avatar_Sep13-02Mom of 2 Wendy Powell is founder of the internationally recognized and sought after MuTu® System program. She has over 12 years experience, proven record and study in the pre and postpartum fitness industry.

MuTu System includes online coaching, DVD’s, online support and community, fully endorsed by Specialist Women’s Health Physiotherapists and Industry Experts worldwide. It is fresh, personal, progressive and motivational, and it gives Moms the answers, guidance and support they need to restore body confidence inside and out. Wendy has an established international social media following and industry reputation.

MuTu System covers fitness, fat loss, nutrition, hormone balancing and motivational strategies for busy Mums.

Wendy’s specialist area of expertise is pelvic and abdominal reconnection and restoration after childbirth: functional core strength, diastasis recti, pelvic floor and related alignment issues.

Wendy writes for the Huffington Post and has appeared in numerous magazine features, including Red magazine, Health and Fitness and Zest. Health and Fitness magazine UK also commissioned Wendy to write their Get Your Body Back book, published September 2013.

mom and baby photo by Adam DeClercq

DIY Friday: Good Times with the Pelvic Floor, for the Ladies AND the Dudes

diyfriday (2)

*Do it yourself! Every Friday we do a roundup of great posts, videos, or other resources around a theme that help people to turn their bodies from cranky to happy.*

Let me tell you what happens when you put up a post on diastasis recti, you then spend the next week chatting about and getting asked about all kinds of other "ladies makin' babies" related structural questions. In my email inbox, chilling on the beach with friends, on Facebook... questions are popping up all over the place, and they're all centered around the pelvic floor. What I didn't expect is that they seem to also be popping up related to the dudes, which I found fascinating.  Well, as always I am delighted to put on my super sleuth hat and see what information and resources I can find.

Both men and women who have children know that there is much postpartum talk about pelvic floor issues, or what is otherwise known as "peeing when sneezing, laughing, or jumping rope". (At best. At worst we're talking prolapsed uterus, yikes). Men who have had a child with a woman know all about this because they have to hear about it, and women know about it, duh, because they've lived it. Not all of them mind you (I have been mercifully spared this particular postpartum problem), but many. As with Diastasis Recti, it is becoming something people assume is the norm. (It's not.)

8541439551_b07fa687f8_bSo I think both because there is this vocal conversation going on around women and pelvic floor issues because of what is an obvious cause (birthin' babies), and also because men don't typically talk about their stuff, especially when it's tied to their, ahem, masculinity, that they get left out of the pelvic floor party. Well welcome to the party boys! I've turned up all kinds of fascinating info that pertains to you too, so if you're having pelvic pain (it often feels like pressure in the pelvic floor, or hips, or, um, burning pain when urinating after sex anyone?) read on:

Again, huge gratitude to the genius of Katy Bowman for this week's round up. I seem to be on a Bowman binge. Perhaps because I will be embarking on her training soon, but more likely just because she's a freaky alignment goddess.

  • First up: this one is for both men and women, and while it may rob you of your beloved Kegels (which Bowman classifies as a pelvic floor weakening exercise- the jury's still out for me on that one, I need to examine it a bit more) it will give you alternatives: read 1, 2, 3, 4, We Like Our Pelvic Floor here. 
  • Next, this article is targeted to the women-folk, but much of the information pertains to men too. While men might not need to fret about throwing out their high heels, they do need yet another lecture about sitting on their tuberosities instead of their sacrum. Because boy howdy I lecture my clients on that endlessly: Read 4 Fast Fixes for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction here. 
  • DUDES! Don't worry, I have one just for you. I found this fascinating and I bet giving this a read will save a lot of men from a long winded medical run around trying to figure out what the pain their pelvis is stemming from: Read Mojo and the Painful Pelvis here.

Go liberate those pelvic floors and have some fun people!