TJ – Australia
During pregnancy, I had massive pelvic pain and instability in my hips and pelvis, to the point it was hard to walk. Since there didn’t seem to be any appointments available with the physios at my hospital I was birthing with, I just wore a belly brace and suffered in silence. I kept showing up to work even when it hurt. I kept doing housework even when it hurt. After birth, I ripped my stitches every time I pooped for a while, which was AGONISING. I bled for 5.5 months straight, with every doctor saying “it will pass, everyone bleeds for a few weeks after birth” until one of them finally put me on estrogen pills. Then once I finally stopped bleeding, that’s when I realised the true extent of my pelvic damage, because I couldn’t hold my urine or farts in at all. I was going through pads and pads each day – but for urine now, not for blood anymore. I’d never had trouble with any of this before then. In fact, my mum would always joke I had “an iron bladder” because I wouldn’t take many toilet stops when we did road trips as a kid, so I was very embarrassed by the whole thing. I sought treatment because I didn’t want to keep spending money on incontinence products.
Initially, I got a referral from my GP to the women’s health physio at the hospital I birthed with. Their empathy was great, and their physical examination was much better than the 6-week physio consult I’d gotten from the hospital, which was literally, “you look fine”… but their advice was challenging to follow. After a while, I gave up on them because they were so expensive and I wasn’t seeing any improvement. Because I hadn’t seen any real improvement, I got on the waiting list for a urogynecologist – that was a bit of a fail. They prescribed a pessary but it was too big I think, because it reaaaally hurt putting it in and taking it out. Then that doctor went on a year of leave so I couldn’t even go back to get a replacement, so I gave up on it. After another year or so, I self-referred to a different physio that offers Reformer Pilates in a small group supervised by a qualified physio. That was much more fun, since it was me and another woman doing the exercises together, so it was less isolating, more enjoyable, and I actually did see quite a lot of progress. Now, I can mostly go all day without any incontinence leakage.
I can go for a walk longer than half an hour without leaking, and in 2022 (gave birth in 2018) I actually started doing some small 1km running exercises again!!! This is amazing. I loved running and bushwalking before giving birth, so I missed it hugely for those 3 years that I really couldn’t do anything.