Military Spouse Magazine

DEC 2018

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G O O D A D V I C E Kegels Are Not Enough Don't ignore this very important issue for female milspouses. By Ashley Gammon, Army Spouse YOU SHOULD NEVER PEE YOUR PANTS...EVER! It doesn't matter how many births you have had, how big your baby was, or even if it's just "sometimes" when you sneeze really hard or jump on the trampoline. This is a very common symptom to many women, but it's never normal. This is a symptom that far too many women suffer with, but are often too embarrassed or ashamed to talk about. It is a sign of pelvic floor and core weakness, and can often be fixed with exercise alone. Postpartum is forever and it's never too late to start rehabbing. KEGELS ARE NOT ENOUGH The pelvic floor is a complex group of muscles with a few super important jobs. It is responsible for supporting our organs (bladder, rectum and uterus) and keeping them in an optimal position (upright), sphincter control for bladder and rectum, and also plays a role in sexual function (orgasm). Doing your Kegels at the commissary or in line waiting for school pick up is not enough. This is why it's important to get education, resources and tools from someone who special- izes in this area of women's health. WHETHER YOU HAD A VAGINAL BIRTH OR CESAREAN, YOUR PELVIC FLOOR STILL NEEDS TO BE REHABBED TO ENSURE THAT YOUR BODY HEALS PROPERLY Women who have had a cesarean birth are often under the impression their pel- vic floor is in the clear. Consider the mom who may have pushed for hours when her body was not ready or rushed to an emer- gency cesarean for various reasons. The other thing to think about is no matter how you had your baby your pelvic floor was carrying around that extra weight and pressure from baby for nine long months. So regardless of what your pregnancy and delivery looked like it is vital to rehab these muscles that often have endured a lot of stress and sometimes trauma. WOMEN'S HEALTH PT SHOULD BE PART OF THE POSTPARTUM PROCESS We have all been told for years that six weeks is some- how this magical number where all of a sudden you can go "back to normal activity," start exercising again, and cleared for sex. Women are literally being injured dur- ing childbirth, muscles are being stretched to the max and sometimes tearing (pelvic floor injury) and then just like that they are being told all is good and clear. Depending on what your pregnancy and birth looked like this six-week marker could look very different. Some women feel good enough to start doing some light core breathing and pelvic floor engagements two weeks postpartum while oth- ers find it uncomfortable to walk for weeks past their six week checkup. We would never injure or stretch any other muscle in our body to the max and then at six weeks it magically heals itself. No way. We would go to physical therapy, rehab that weak or injured muscle and then we would slowly get back to whatever our new norm looks like now that we have entered motherhood. There is a doctor for your vagina. Some bases of- fer these services on post, and Tricare does cover this as well. SYMPTOMS TO BE AWARE OF AND HOW TO GET HELP Many symptoms can be related to pelvic floor and core weakness, including incontinence (urinary and fecal), lower back and hip pain, constipation, painful sex, and pelvic organ prolapse. You know your body better than anyone else. If something feels off or you are experiencing any symptoms, even if they are small, I encourage you to seek professional help as soon as possible. Go to your primary care manager and request a referral to the on post women's health physical therapy (if available) or get a referral for off post. These symptoms will not correct themselves and you could do more harm than good if left untreated. H Signs of a health problem often take a back seat for military spouses dealing with moves, deployments, and the challenges of military life. But when it comes to pelvic floor and core health issues, you need to start paying attention. You deserve a body that works right and feels good. Don't suffer in silence with pelvic floor dysfunction. 1 2 3 4 5 26 MILITARYSPOUSE.COM / DECEMBER 2018

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