My 1st pregnancy went well with no real problems and all of my focus was on our beautiful baby girl. When she was 2, I had another beautiful healthy baby girl and again the Birmingham Women’s hospital were amazing. Perhaps it was inevitable that I didn’t recover as quickly as I now had a baby and a 2-year-old. My tummy definitely was different as a gap appeared which don’t look great, but no one saw it except me and my husband (occasionally). Doing stuff like jumping out of bed to get the baby or go to my eldest was also a bit different as it felt like my hips and back had just aged during my last pregnancy. I didn’t have much urinary leakage or stress incontinence, but I did have some, but I had two babies close together and maybe that was to be expected. My pre baby life of working big hours in A&E and gym 3 times per week seemed worryingly far away. I made a decision which as a health professional and informed health conscious woman now doesn’t make sense to me, I decided I would leave all of these problems and get them sorted out in the future after I had finished having our family. My little boy arrived 2 years later and although an amazing happy time for all of us I was a wreck, physically exhausted, lots more back pain now, a struggle to hold the baby and get out of a chair without looking like I was performing Olympic weight lifting. My tummy looked worse now and one of my midwife friends said that she taught I had a 4-finger diastasis and should get it sorted. My leaking still wasn’t too bad but deep down I knew if it was one of my friends who it was happening too I’d say “ you are a young woman ( 35 ) get this sorted out or you are setting yourself up for bigger problem when you get back doing some proper exercise or when the dreaded menopause hits”. My main positive was at least I didn’t have a prolapse like one or two of my friends.
Some of my original baby friends had been to see the physios at Barefoot in Harborne and although that was relatively close it was even better when I found out that someone could see me in Kings Heath, and they said I could bring the baby. Working as an A&E nurse I knew lots of physios but didn’t really have any idea what they would do except probably get me to do some pelvic floor exercises and give me some other exercises for my tummy and my back. It is safe to say after 3 pregnancies I was not optimistic but had to do something. But I needed some help and guidance, so I booked a Mummy MOT with Gerard Greene. I was also fascinated by the fact he had just got back from teaching physios in Japan, so I assumed he knew his stuff.
To say it was different to what I expected was an understatement. Gerard was very at ease with me bringing James which later made sense as he said he had 4 children and that all of the physios were used to having lots of babies and toddlers in the clinic. He asked me lots of questions about what was going on, how were things affecting me, what I did and really importantly what I thought was going on, what I was worried about and also what I wanted to get back doing. He also didn’t make me feel guilty for leaving it about 6 years to actually see someone. This was someone who did seem to understand the realities of having a busy house with young children and balancing work and life.
He had a good look at my back and got me moving in various ways and also looked at my hip movements and reassured me that everything was ok just very stiff. He looked at my tummy and although I did have a 4 finger diastasis described it in a way that was much less terrifying that I’d read online and he was optimistic that with doing some specific things it would improve to at least a 2 finger gap and that this was the average that lots of mums have. My tummy was also very sensitive to being touched or pressed on and this was something I’d noticed before if the kids hugged me or my husband gave me a hug. Gerard explained that with ongoing back pain and the tummy muscles not doing an awful lot the whole area can get quite sensitive and painful. Impressively he was able to look at my pelvic floor strength by using abdominal ultrasound. This was incredible as I knew my pelvic floor was ok, but I was still leaking. On the Ultrasound I was getting really nice movement in lying but when he looked at it in standing it was not doing an awful lot and in his words was just lacking endurance and needed some specific exercise. He also found that on movement i.e. when I did some movements like sit to stand and small squats the ultrasound showed that my pelvic floor wasn’t doing what it should. This now started to make sense to me. The ultrasound was truly amazing as I could see that my tummy muscles weren’t doing an awful lot nor my pelvic floor muscles.
What did my physio consist of, lots of explanations as to why I was getting the problems I was, he encouraged me to try and find time for myself and do something I enjoyed, I went back swimming once a week and loved the peace and the exercise. Odd to say but it was like I was given permission to do something for me. I started power walking in the evenings when the kids were down, not every evening but def 3 times per week on a good week. This led me to eat better and I think sleep better and I used headspace to try and switch of from home. Headspace was tough to find time for, but I am still trying. I started doing some specific back and hip exercises and Gerard also did some gentle work to free them up. The stiffness in my body was starting to leave and I was feeling younger again. I did some massage to my tummy which Gerard showed me, and I got the kids to do this to make it fun and I also brought my hubby along and Gerard taught him to do it. My tummy is no longer painful to touch, and hugs are now welcomed. I did a lot of pelvic floor work and tummy work but with the ultrasound in standing and squatting and sit to stand. It felt like I was doing real exercises rather than just pelvic floor exercises. I no longer leak, and my tummy is no longer bulging and currently a 2 finger gap but a strong 2 finger gap and shape is returning. I have started couch to 5 and my aim is to do a park run with some of my work friends. I am stronger and glad that I had a Mummy MOT and post-natal physiotherapy that has had a dramatic impact on me and my family. And I was right he did know his stuff. Big thanks also to my friends who recommended having some physiotherapy and pushed me to actually get it sorted. You were right. Ellie (A&E nurse, mum of 3 and soon to be park runner)