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by Karen Legge

The Sad Tale of The Lost Pelvic Floor

Superman had kryptonite as his nemesis. Well this Unyoung Mum has trampolines.

The arch-enemy of the pelvic floor! I recently signed up for a bounce exercise class but who was I kidding – the potential of a puddle was too off-putting. Luckily a bout of vertigo put pay to that crazy idea. My journey back to fitness postpartum has been somewhat of a challenge. I’ve gone from being the woman that used to run twelve kilometres home after a day at work to the mum who can only exercise in partnership with TENA!

My ‘challenges’ became apparent after I was given the all-clear from the doctor to get back to exercise at twelve weeks after birth. Gung-ho mumma was straight out to the treadmill in the garage, convinced she could knock out five kilometres without breaking a sweat. After one kilometre I felt a strange sensation. Within seconds I’d done a complete re-enactment of Fergie from the Black-Eyed Peas on stage (google it – I feel your pain Fergie love). Niagra falls had nothing on me in my ill-advised, light-grey leggings. I shuffled in to the house with my head hanging low. This was not going to have me back in my pre-preggo jeans with the speed of an a-list celebrity. This was rock-bottom.

So let’s deal with this taboo. As many of us geriatric mummies know, with age comes the increased chance of an assisted birth. The NHS state urinary stress incontinence can be caused by not only carrying a child but by vaginal birth. Stick a bit of ventouse/forcep action in there and that’s shares in TENA ladies! Add in to the mix the dreaded E word, episiotomy (feel the collective shudder of every naive NCT attendee and the visible paling of every partner who has been at the business end whilst it’s been carried out) and I am sure you can guarantee some reluctance to sneeze. Or jump. Or brake too quickly with the buggy. Or cough…

Therefore a trampoline park with Harry was a bold move – I think you’ll agree. It makes me question why so many people suffer in silence. I’m a prolific over-sharer so anyone who knows me, knows I will not be breaking any sprint records in the near future. However, being open about this meant I was comfortable in seeking help. I was really lucky to have discovered the most amazing pilates teacher who had both an understanding and empathy towards ante and post natal challenges. Without her I dread to think what state I’d be in as her strengthening work helped massively.

She directed me to a fabulous Women’s Health Physiotherapist. With a regular programme of pelvic floor exercises (are you clenching as I said that), I did see improvement and began running again but I was still not back to ‘normal.’ I’ll be honest – I found it a challenge to find time to be still enough to focus on me and ‘pulling up’ three time a day for 5×60 seconds. Especially when we progressed to standing on one leg – the Karate Kid I am not. Now there’s no reminder pinging on my phone, I have once again regressed to occasionally remembering to clench whilst brushing my teeth. It still feels a real cop-out and I need to commit to regular Kegels.

It was off to a consultant who recommended a gradual step in non-invasive surgery. Botox in my nunny! I can’t lie. I had visions of The Real Housewives of Cheshire. Was she offering me some kind of vaginal rejuvenation? Would they stop at my downstairs or give me a little refresh on my tired mush? Sadly, urethral bulking agents that are injected in to the urethral walls helping them to shut off properly, do not work on everyone. This didn’t work for me, although I had a wonderful day where I had uninterrupted, peaceful sleep albeit under general anaesthetic. At this point my medical insurance decided they’d had quite enough of all this expense and refused any further treatment.

Worth it just for the sexy socks, someone making me lunch and a cup of tea at the touch of a button

I am now awaiting an appointment with the NHS for the next step. There’s been massive controversy over the use of mesh in stress incontinence surgery, with some women suffering major complications but there are alternatives. I’m currently referred for colposuspension but much like a C-Section, it takes quite a bit of getting over. It’s worth a shot though in my eyes to prevent too many more ‘uh-oh’ moments. I find myself looking at images of the Hoover Dam and the London Flood Barrier, dreaming of the possibilities…

You may agree, as a result of my trials and dribbleulations, that my commitment to exhausting Harry before bedtime is above and beyond when it comes to trampoline parks. I couldn’t have done it without the help of these bad boys: Lights by TENA Ultra Towels. Big knickers were required but these are inoffensive, non-nappy like and do the job! I think we can safely say that I will not be representing Team GB for my tuck jump in to seat drop any time soon but I’ll keep you updated on the potential operation. Oh, and if anyone sees my pelvic floor around – point it in my direction. Cheers!

Written by Karen Legge for her blog, The Unyoung Mum.

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