The English are typically known to love a queue, have a stiff upper lip and can’t stop moaning about the National Health Service.
Whilst I think the NHS is an amazing resource to have with amazingly hard working people who work within it, there is an area where I believe much could be improved.
And as you may have guessed, it’s post-natal treatment and after-care. It seems to me that most new mums get assigned to the conveyor belt of one-in, one-out.
I remember as a child, visiting my Aunty and watching her being taught how to bathe her new-born baby, spending five days in hospital before being discharged.
I am not suggesting it was perfect in those days but it does seem it was much less hurried than by modern standards. Nowadays you can be discharged hours after birth with little more than a wave and a goodbye.
Home you go with your baby, instructions not included.
Once at home you are at the beck and call of your newborn and quite rightly so but who is looking out for mummy and her recovery?
This is the part where the cynical would say to this, “we coped ok in my day” and “My mum never made such a song and dance, why all the fuss now?”
I am pretty sure though that if you are reading this thinking something similar then you have never taken the time out to ask your Mother how it was for her after delivery.
I had that very conversation with my Aunty on Mothers’ Day. And despite my work in the post-natal period it still shocked me to find out that she had suffered with stress incontinence for 18 years after the birth of her first baby.
I asked her why she hadn’t done anything? Her answer: “until now no one has asked me about it, so I just got on with it”
And there you have it, the reason no one made a song and dance or made a fuss. Because nobody asked the right questions.
Incontinence is a topic even media portrays as something you just put up with. You all know the advert with the lady and the lift.
And so why would anyone talk about it?
It is therefore no surprise that incontinence is not a screening question on the membership form for a gym when you join up looking to shift your baby weight and get your fitness back to levels you once knew.
So why should your local gym be responsible for our incontinence issues? The reason I believe is because nobody else is dealing with this.
So I come back full circle to what is lacking in the NHS. Perhaps they don’t have the resources to deal with this or maybe it’s just they have blinkers on to anything embarrassing and it seems certainly with regards to difficult labour, pregnancy or even menopause.
It is simply not good enough to fob off women with pads and kegals, let us not just treat the symptom and leave the cause.
In France women are given 8-10 specific health appointments as part of their national health service (either free or heavily subsidised). It is during these appointments that women are given what I like to call a Mummy MOT.<
No stone is left unturned – from the internal condition of your pelvis, nutritional support to aid recovery and breast feeding. And probably the most valuable gift given is a program to restore the natural working order of the pelvis, from bladder to clitoris. Now that’s what I call post-natal after-care.
Our situation on this side of The Channel isn’t going to change anytime soon. Maybe it is our English stiff upper lip that stops us addressing real post-natal issues.
This brings me to a chance meeting I had with an inspirational woman, Jenny Burrell, who after 13 years in the pre/post natal field has developed her own class using functional movement and pelvic care into a perfectly shaped class, designed to get our bits working and talking to each other again.
The class addresses re-connection, restoration and re-education. This is called the Foo Foo Fun Club. All the muscles, joints and ligaments that take a hit during pregnancy get an overhaul. But the biggest change you’re bound to see is your mood and confidence.
I didn’t want to pass up getting involved with this initiative and I am one of the first health and fitness professionals to qualify to run Foo Foo classes in the East London area.
If you are finding yourself at your wit’s end with the NHS with regards to post-natal care, then your local Foo Foo ambassador is your best bet at a great recovery.
I begin teaching my first Foo Foo class on 14th April 2013 with four awesome mummies at CrossFit London. The classes run in 6 week courses.
For East London-based course details or further information email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sally Dixey is a Personal Trainer and foo foo ambassador in Bethnal Green.