Anna Winstanley Physiotherapy York

The Postnatal Check You Deserve

Mother with pram

One of the reasons I do the work I do is because of the inequality that I see in the treatment of women and mothers in the healthcare system. Let’s compare the orthopaedic post-op experience with that of the postnatal checks received by women.

A mother and her Baby or a new ligament?

Imagine if Harry Kane bust his knee at the start of October and had to undergo reconstructive surgery. He would certainly be out of the running for the forthcoming World Cup which begins on the 20th November. He would receive a comprehensive recovery programme that aimed to maintain his cardiovascular fitness, allow time for recovery of the soft tissues and begin a gradual and sensible road to full rehabilitation.

Compare this with the expectation we place on new mothers after giving birth. Most women are discharged home from hospital within 2 days and told to do some pelvic floor exercises and take some lactulose to keep their poo soft. “Oh well”, thinks the woman (and so everybody keeps telling her) “At least my baby is healthy. The NHS staff are so under-resourced. I’ll just be patient and wait for my 6-8 weeks postnatal check up”

The NHS Offering

Putting aside, for now, the immense change to the woman’s psyche, her identity, relationship dynamics, and the emotional rollercoaster she is on(especially the first time mum), and considering her physical recovery purely: The NHS 6-8 week postnatal check rolls around and her GP has around 10 minutes to cover a discussion of how you’re coping physically and emotionally, blood pressure checks, physical examination of the scars and a discussion about contraception. And even if all of that is deemed “okay” you may be told that you are now good to go back to your previous activities.

Really? 6 weeks? Wowzers. You might start to wish you’d had a ligament reconstruction instead of a baby, where you may return to light duties at 4-6 weeks, but not back to a full physical job until at least 12 weeks post op and 12-24 months for your sport of choice. All with a comprehensive plan for rehab, a fit note from your GP. But sure, Mums can carry on running after the 6 week check.

6 Week reality check

Physically, you may still be experiencing

  • Leaking urine
  • Pelvic Pain
  • Back pain
  • Weakness
  • Breast heaviness
  • Altered balance
  • Vulvo-vaginal changes

It’s usual to feel self-conscious at this time too, about how your body has changed. It may be the case that you have not noticed any difficulties until after your 6-8 week check when you begin to resume exercise. 

You may also be coming to terms with a traumatic delivery, or feeling overwhelmed by the changes a new baby brings.

A better way

The postnatal check you deserve is one that allows you time to discuss your birth experience if you wish, to fully explore current physical and emotional challenges that you are facing. You should feel that you have been listened to and that your problem areas (that are important to you) have been assessed physically. You should be able to have enough time to hear and understand any advice and to ask questions and know what is needed to achieve goals that are meaningful to you.

If you would like to discuss your needs, why not book a FREE 15 minute chat to find out how I can help you with your postnatal recovery. 

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Anna Winstanley

Anna Winstanley

Hi I’m Anna, a Women's Health Physiotherapist and Pilates Instructor in York with a nerdy passion for all things women’s health and wellbeing. I’ve worked with countless women over the years, helping them to feel strong, overcome pain and improve their quality of life so they can be marvellous mums, excellent employees and super selves.

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