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How Pregnancy Affects the Pelvic Floor and Coping with Postpartum Urogynaecological Issues

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Bringing new life into the world is a miraculous journey, but it can also bring about changes in a woman’s body that require attention and care.  One area that is often overshadowed by the joy of welcoming a new baby is postpartum health, particularly concerning urogynecological issues. Understanding these changes and knowing how to cope with them is crucial for new mothers as they recover and adjust to life after delivery.

What is Urogynaecology?

First of all, let’s address what urogynaecology is.  Although less heard of than obstetrics and gynaecology, urogynaecology is a specialised field within gynaecology that focuses on diagnosing and treating pelvic floor disorders in women. These disorders often arise due to weakened pelvic floor muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues, which can occur during childbirth, ageing, hormonal changes, or other factors. Urogynaecologists are medical professionals with expertise in managing conditions such as pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, and voiding disorders, providing comprehensive care tailored to each patient’s needs.

How Pregnancy Affects the Pelvic Floor

During pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes many changes to accommodate the growing baby. These changes also involve the pelvic floor, a group of muscles that support the uterus, bladder, and bowel. As the baby grows in size and weight, it puts pressure on the pelvic floor, which can cause stretching and weakening of its muscles. This can lead to issues such as urinary incontinence (leaking urine), or prolapse of organs. Some women may also experience pain or discomfort in the pelvic area due to these changes.

Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Pelvic organ prolapse is a condition where the pelvic organs such as  the bladder, uterus, or rectum slip down and protrude into the vaginal canal. This can occur due to weakened pelvic floor muscles or damage to the connective tissues that support these organs. Symptoms of prolapse may include a feeling of heaviness or pressure in the pelvis, difficulty emptying the bladder or bowel, and pain during sexual intercourse. It’s important for new mothers to recognise these signs early and consult a urogynaecologist for appropriate management as  untreated prolapse may lead to further complications.

Urinary Incontinence

As mentioned earlier, weakened pelvic floor muscles can result in urinary incontinence. This is a term used to describe the involuntary loss of urine, which can occur while coughing, sneezing, laughing, or during any physical strain. It’s not uncommon for new mothers to experience this issue, known as stress urinary incontinence, due to the pressure on their pelvic floor during pregnancy and childbirth. Fortunately, there are various treatment options available for managing urinary incontinence, including pelvic floor exercises, medication, or surgery.

Coping with Postpartum Urogynecological Issues

It is crucial for new mothers to understand that postpartum care goes beyond just caring for their newborn. It also involves taking care of their own health and addressing any urogynaecological issues they may be experiencing. Many women may feel embarrassed or hesitant to talk about these issues, causing feelings of isolation and allowing conditions to complicate. However,  urogynaecological conditions are nothing to be embarrassed about. Seeking medical attention and treatment from a patient and understanding urogynaecologist like Arthur Tseng Women’s Health Services can help greatly improve their quality of life.

If you suspect you are suffering from postpartum urogynaecological conditions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We understand the social and psychological effects these conditions can have and are here to help you manage your condition in more ways than one.

Rehabilitation and Recovery

Treating urogynecological issues typically involves a multidisciplinary approach tailored to each woman’s unique condition and preferences. Working with a urogynaecologist is essential for accurate diagnosis and effective management. Here are some common treatment options:

  1. Pelvic Floor Exercises: Also known as Kegel exercises, these strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and improve bladder control.
  2. Physical Therapy: Pelvic floor physical therapy can help address muscle weakness, coordination, and alignment issues.
  3. Medications: In some cases, medications may be prescribed to manage symptoms such as urinary urgency or overactive bladder.
  4. Pessaries: These are devices inserted into the vagina to support prolapsed pelvic organs and alleviate symptoms.
  5. Surgical Interventions: For severe cases or when conservative measures are ineffective, surgical procedures like pelvic organ prolapse repair or sling procedures for incontinence may be recommended.

New mothers should prioritise their postpartum health and seek timely medical attention for any urogynaecological concerns. A comprehensive evaluation by a specialist can determine the most suitable treatment plan, which may include a combination of lifestyle modifications, therapies, and medical interventions to restore pelvic health and enhance quality of life.

Conclusion

Navigating postpartum health, especially urogynecological concerns, is an essential aspect of a new mother’s recovery. Being informed and proactive can help mitigate complications and facilitate a smoother transition to motherhood. Early intervention and treatment are paramount in managing the symptoms effectively and enhancing the quality of life for new mothers.

For those who are experiencing any urogynecological issues, it is essential to consult with a qualified health professional who can guide treatment and management appropriately. Your health is just as important as your new baby’s, so take the time to care for your body and mind during the postpartum period.

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