Disclaimer the first: this is not a sponsored post. I was invited to attend a chat where an Urologic Surgeon and a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist gave us information and answered questions. I'm not obligated to write this post, nor am I being compensated. I think the information I was given is vitally important to a lot of women and I want to start a conversation.
Disclaimer the second: I'm going to talk about lady bits. If you're uncomfortable talking about lady bits, or have no interest in lady bits, you're welcome to use the little x right up there in the corner of your screen. I'll be back to posting about food and chaos soon.
Right! We good? Good.
Truth time: *deep breath*...I have been seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist since shortly after Poppy's birth. While I was still pregnant, I saw a naturopath who noticed my belly "tenting" when I got up off his table. When I engaged my core to lift myself up (let's be real - I hoisted myself off his table, grunting gracefully) my belly would no longer be round, it was pointed. He told me this indicated a separation that would require help to fix and I should see a pelvic floor specialist after I gave birth.
Fast forward a few months. Poppy was fashionably late and weighed in at (a hefty) 9lbs 6oz. It was not a smooth birthing experience and I was rushed into surgery shortly after she was born. There was a lot of action at my nether regions is what I'm saying. For weeks after giving birth, I suffered from back pain, hip pain, and significant core weakness. I researched and found a pelvic floor specialist near me and booked an appointment.
I am a damn grownup but I had no idea what my pelvic floor was. I'd heard the term but it felt like a buzzword that would disappear from our vernacular sooner or later. I had no idea how integral the pelvic floor is to our overall core strength, or how many women experience issues.
The pelvic floor is kind of like a 3-layer trampoline that spans the area between the tailbone and pubis (disclaimer the third: not a doctor; this is information I took away from the chat and should not be considered medically accurate). Pregnancy and childbirth can damage the muscles and nerves of the pelvic floor. It doesn't matter if you deliver vaginally or via C-section; you can have issues with your pelvic floor either way. Pelvic floor issues can lead to pain, core weakness, pelvic organ prolapse (which is where your organs aren't being supported correctly by your pelvic floor so they start to fall out), and incontinence.
I didn't know I should be concerned about my pelvic floor health after Grady was born in 2011 and I didn't know it wasn't normal to pee a little when I sneezed or did jumping jacks or laughed too hard. I bought into the "kids ruin your body, har har har" line of thinking and figured I'd just wear a panty liner whenever I exercised. I didn't experience drastic leaks, and I didn't leak every day, so I didn't think it was a problem that could be fixed. I just thought childbirth had done a number on my body and I'd have to live with it.
And then I started seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist after Poppy was born and she was all "why should you have to live with pain and leaks?" And I didn't have a good answer.
So! I was extremely interested to attend the event. I'd heard of Poise before but I thought they only made absorbency products. I was surprised to learn about their newest product, Poise Impressa Bladder Supports. (Just a reminder, this is not a sponsored post, I just think these are really flipping cool.) The bladder supports are exactly what they sound like. They're a small, non-absorbent, temporary (up to 8 hour) product that gently lifts and supports the urethra to prevent urine leakage.
Dr. Elterman, the Urologic Surgeon, gave us a great way to visualize it. Think of a garden hose. If the garden hose is resting on soggy, wet grass and you step on it to stop the flow of water, you're going to have a tough time fully stopping it. Your foot is going to sink into the mush a bit and there will be some leakage. If the garden hose is resting on concrete and you step on it, you're much more likely to be able to cut off the flow of water and prevent leaks.
Impressa bladder supports are kind of like the concrete (without actually being concrete. Heavens. They're made of silicone and a gauzy mesh material.). They provide support and allow you to stop the flow of urine so you can live without leaks. They're not a plug, and they don't absorb urine, they're a support.
Why do I love this product? Pelvic floor issues plague 1 in 4 Canadian women. That's a lot of women. Canadian women don't see pelvic floor specialists as part of their general health care or prenatal care (fun fact: in France, women who give birth are sent to pelvic floor specialists as part of their standard care). Some pelvic floor issues can be treated with physiotherapy and exercises but some need surgery to be corrected. A lot of women don't have the resources for either, or simply aren't ready to talk about the issue (because it's kind of squicky, right? Not everyone is ready to announce to the world that sometimes they pee when they sneeze. Hashtag: blog life. Hashtag: tmi. Hashtag: I'm terrible.). Impressa is a tool that women can decide to use themselves (you don't need a prescription) when and where they want to. For example: I don't have a big problem with leaks (I'm in physio mainly for pain) but I can't get through an entire workout video leak-free. I avoid workout classes and the yoga studio because I'm embarrassed. I plan on using Impressa to give me the confidence to workout publicly.
Pregnancy and childbirth do take their toll on women's body. But most pelvic floor issues are fixable; we just need to be comfortable enough to talk about what's going on with our doctors. I'm lucky; I have a doctor (not everyone is so lucky) and I feel comfortable talking about anything with her. If you don't have a doctor you can speak to and you're experiencing stress urinary incontinence, I highly recommend you check out Impressa. It's not a permanent fix but it's a product that may give you a bit of your life back.