Still feeling not-quite-right after having your baby?

Sinead McCarthy sees Penny Stretton for a Postnatal body check  Mother&Baby September 2016

Nearly a year after having my second baby, I still wasn’t feeling like my old self. I had lower back pain, achy knees and my pelvis felt a little on the wobbly side. ‘You need a Mummy MOT,’ a friend told me. I thought she was joking, but she explained that she’d just been for a postnatal health check with a physiotherapist, so I made an appointment with Sinead McCarthy at Six Physio, who specialises in postnatal checks, for the full service to assess my tummy muscles, posture and pelvic floor.

Sinead asked me all sorts of questions about the delivery of my 91b 8oz baby, and lis­tened carefully to my answers. She then assessed my painful left knee, watching as I squat­ted, lifting each foot off the ground in turn. As I wobbled, she said the pain could stein from a weakness in my bottom, leg and tummy muscles, which meant my knee was not well sup­ported and could be helped by strengthening exercises.

Next came a pelvic floor check- and I wasn’t expecting this to be internal. It was a little awkward at first but Sinead was very reassuring.

She talked me through how to properly work my pelvic floor, making sure to begin the squeeze from my back passage, then pulling everything up and in towards the front. As l practised, she could feel how well the muscle performed. She concluded that my pelvic floor was still a little weak and advised me to do three sets of 10 pelvic floor exercises a day, holding the squeeze for six seconds each time.

I was surprised when Sinead wheeled in the sonography equipment next – I hadn’t had a scan since I was pregnant! She used it in exactly the same way, pulling lotion on my tummy and placing the doppler on, but this time it was to look at the space between my stomach muscles. These often part in pregnancy and don’t always knit back together. Sinead revealed that mine had come back together above and below my belly button but there was a small gap under it. She talked me through some targeted sit-ups while she watched on the screen how the deeper layers of muscles performed. Reassuringly, she explained that the gap was causing no problems and that my muscles stayed flat and strong.

At the end of the session, I was given clear advice on how to strengthen my body. Sinead recommended l did Pilates exercises alongside my current runs. l felt much better equipped to look after my pelvic floor, including how to sit on the loo! l felt confident that I’ve now got a clear strategy and that it will alleviate my aches and pains and I also felt good that I’d made my health a priority – normally my two children always come first. It was great to be reminded that, as a mum, I need to look after my body – from the inside out.

“I hadn’t had a scan since I was pregnant!’

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