- Sami Cattach
2016, I'm coming for you!
Over the last few years, I've worked with hundreds of women at all stages of their lives and pregnancies and I've seen first-hand both the amazing joy and wonders it can bring, as well as the potential toll it can take on your body.
This blog is in no way a judgement of anyone who has had pregnancy-related pain or issues. It has been an absolute privilege to work with so many women over the years and to be able to take what I have learned from their experiences, both good and bad, to help other women (including myself).
While pregnancy and childbirth are very natural occurences for the human body, we no longer live in a natural world - by which I mean, we are no longer exposed to the movements and activities we would have performed if we were still living without electricity, cars or toilets (think walking long distances every day, squatting frequently throughout the day, and using your arms for more than just typing or driving).
As a result, our modern-day bodies are less prepared for major physical events such as childbirth - we may not currently have as much mobility and whole-body strength (including pelvic floor and core) as we would have - which increases the risk of pregnancy-related pain, diastasis recti (abdominal separation), and pelvic floor dysfunction.
The current stats show that after childbirth, 1 in 3 women will have urinary incontinence. And that doesn't even begin to cover the number of women who experience other pelvic floor issues like prolapse, pelvic pain during or after pregnancy, or diastasis recti. To me, that doesn't sound like a reasonable trade for this amazing, natural, biological function that our bodies are designed to do.
Most often, women come to see me only when they have concerns or pain, (although more are coming pro-actively to learn how best to prepare themselves which is SO GREAT!) however, I have also seen some women move well and feel amazing during their pregnancies, and recover fantastically postpartum (my Canadian Body & Birth colleague being one of them!) and that is what I would like to strive for.
A bit about me...
I have a fair bit of generalised ligament laxity (meaning my joints are very mobile), particularly in my shoulders, hips and pelvis (Hello sacro-iliac joint pain), as well as a history of pelvic floor hypertonicity (increased tension) along with dyspareunia (pain with sex), difficult bowel movements, and coccydynia (tailbone pain). Over the last year or so of learning how to move differently, and with my knowledge as a Pelvic Floor Physio and Restorative Exercise Specialist, I'm pretty happy to say that my pelvic floor concerns are well resolved, with mild tailbone soreness only after long (14hr) flights. My SIJ pain is now infrequent and well managed (woohoo!).
Becoming pregnant and having a baby is something I would absolutely love to do over the next few years if I am lucky enough. However, I know from my experience as a physio that my own history of musculoskeletal issues may increase my risk of pregancy-related pain and pelvic floor issues like perineal tearing and prolapse. This is mostly due to the pregnancy hormones that INCREASE ligament laxity (especially around the pelvis) and the increased loads placed on the body with a growing baby.
Even though I'm not planning to become pregnant just yet (sorry grandmothers-to-be ;), my goal this year is to start preparing my body now to be as strong and mobile as possible before babies come.
No weight loss goals, no weight-lifting goals, no #thighgap goals,
just functional full body strength and mobility for life.
I'd love to be able to carry a baby to full term without being immobilised by pain, have a smooth return to full function postpartum, be able to carry my baby and pick them up without worrying about hurting my back, shoulders or wrists (because babies get heavy yo!). While there are lots of things you cannot necessarily control or guarantee about your pregnancy and delivery, I'm going to work on the things that I can do, starting now.
Unsuprisingly, the exercises and education that I will be sharing with you over this year are also things I recommend to patients to help prevent and resolve existing pelvic floor and diastasis issues, as well as improve other conditions like shoulder, knee, hip and back pain, poor posture, general health, strength, and resilience. There isn't just one way of moving that is best for pregnancy, or best for back pain, or best for your pelvic floor.
There is just moving your ENTIRE body, better and more naturally, for a stronger, healthier, more functional you, now and for the rest of your life.
2016, its going to be a good year.