World Continence Week: Managing the motherload

World Continence Week: Managing the motherload

There is so much to be excited about when a new baby arrives in your family; new experiences, new joy and delight and more. But there can be challenges too; one of the most unwelcome changes that can arrive with a new baby is pelvic floor problems, including incontinence.

This week (23 to 29 June) is World Continence Week and this year’s theme is ‘Managing the Mother Load’, which aims to reduce the number of women unnecessarily putting up with urinary incontinence after childbirth. 

One in three mothers is at risk of developing urinary incontinence after pregnancy and childbirth. 

To help reduce this risk, physiotherapists at Mater Mothers are using resources developed by the Continence Foundation of Australia to deliver a higher standard of care to mums who are preparing for their new arrival. 

One mum who has benefited from the help of Mater Mothers physiotherapists is mother-of-two Sarah, who is now expecting baby number three. 

“Sarah had a straightforward delivery of her first baby while overseas before moving back to Australia to be closer to her family,” physiotherapist Sheridan Guyett said. 

“We met Sarah when she was pregnant with her second baby and was referred by a midwife to see a Women’s Health Physiotherapist after she mentioned to the midwife that she had some light bladder leakage," she said. 

“To be honest, I thought a little bladder leakage was a normal part of pregnancy and I would just have to put up with it. I was just hoping it wouldn’t continue after baby number 2 arrived,” Sarah said.

“It’s not like it happens all the time, just when I have a cold or an unexpected sneeze, or have to chase down my toddler.  And there is no way you will catch me bouncing on the trampoline!

"I had read about pelvic floor exercises when I was pregnant first time around, but I don’t know if I was doing them correctly or often enough. 

"Besides, life was pretty hectic moving halfway around the world with my partner and our son, Joe and settling back into life in Brisbane. I guess I just didn’t give it much thought.” Sarah is not alone.

A study of 1000 Australian mums and expecting mums found that despite being in a high risk category for developing incontinence, 98 per cent failed to do the daily recommended level of pelvic floor exercises. 

“We want women to be able to play with their kids, exercise or laugh without fear of that bladder leakage Sarah described to us,” Sheridan said.

"If women are experiencing any level of incontinence, we have a great team of health professionals, midwives, doctors and physiotherapists who can help.” Sarah said sessions with the physiotherapist were ‘really helpful’. 

“My physio was so encouraging and knowledgeable and gave me a pelvic floor exercise program and other steps to a healthy pelvic floor. 

“After my daughter was born she saw me again while I was in hospital and modified my exercise program to suit my needs. It took a bit of work for me but this time around I can wrangle two kids and a baby bump without fear of wetting myself.

"I am so grateful to Mater Mothers for having such a great team that really cared for me during my pregnancy and after Ava was born.”

If you need help ‘Managing the Mother Load’ or would like to speak to one of Mater’s Women’s Health Physiotherapists, contact (07) 3163 6000. 

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For urgent assessment at any stage of your pregnancy, please present to your nearest emergency centre or Mater Mothers’ 24/7 Pregnancy Assessment Centre in South Brisbane.

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