As I delve into some new, spooky territory (hoo-ha health) I feel compelled to share a few things with you. And speaking of spooky, Happy (almost) Halloween to you, your family and your hoo-ha! My curiosity with the hoo-ha started about 5 years ago, after I had my daughter. To cut my long and creepy birth story super short, it ended with an emergency cesarian section. Post recovery wasn't so bad. I rested, my scar healed quite nicely and I was feeling ok about the whole thing. I am thankful that I had no complications whatsoever with my surgery.
We are about to get a little personal here friends, so you may want to dim the lights and light a candle.
There was an unexpected thing that I did run into: crazy hoo-ha pain. When my partner and I started to figure out how to be intimate again postpartum, I found that the whole experience was excruciating, which surprised me and my friends when I brought it up with them. I had had a cesarian section! Wasn't I supposed to have gotten off "easy" in that respect?! The pain was very confusing for me, and when I brought it up to my Dr, she mumbled something about postpartum dryness, and that it shouldn't last for too much longer. She led me to believe that I was still having a normal recovery and should maybe just wait it out. The pain persisted, and my confusion and sadness grew- I could barely get a tampon up there without experiencing massive pain.
Turns out that I had some damage to my pelvic floor. Just in case you are wondering the pelvic floor is the muscles, the ligaments and connective tissue of the base of the abdomen which supports the female organs. When learning about the pelvic floor, I found that women experience pain and other chronic issues with their hoo-ha's all the time. Some are: incontinence (bladder control problems), prolapse (when the organs in your pelvis drop down into the hoo-ha instead of sitting in their normal position), and pain associated with having sex. I also found that the health of their pelvic floor is generally never brought up postpartum by a Dr unless you bring it up first. I also found that it was "normal" for many women I know to experience various levels of postpartum incontinence. From: oh, I just sneezed and bam! undies wet... to: I can't even go running anymore (of course I'm wearing a pantyliner) without having to come home and completely change my underwear and pants. I also learned that the number one reason women end up in assisted living when they're seniors is due to incontinence, and yet there still doesn't seem to be any regular attention given to postpartum women in this manner.
THIS IS AN ATROCITY.
One of my client's mothers (she is in her 60s) can't even travel anymore due to her hoo-ha issues (prolapse, pain and incontinence). This is very common, and makes me feel like I'm taking crazy pills. How have we let it go this far? Ladies, Halloween or not, this scares the piss out of me.
If you are one of the women out there who experiences pain, incontinence, chronic dryness or itchiness or any other lingering hoo-ha symptom postpartum... I want to tell you that you are NOT ALONE, and there are options out there to make it better.
My current mission: (which will really begin to take flight after I have this little dude in the winter) is to continue to create a community of resources for postpartum women. And whether your kids are 3 months old or 30 yrs old, there are still things you can do to improve your situation. Since so little information is readily available to address these hoo-ha problems, and so little attention is given to them, the more I've realized we have to step it up. Women should not feel like they have to wait out their pain and wet undies until things maybe get better. We deserve resources to help us feel healthy and vibrant and that includes the health of our hoo-ha's! As a pilates teacher, I am limited in the kind of healing I can offer women because usually their conditions need more attention than just exercise. I have been contacting other professionals in this field to strengthen my awareness, and to be able to connect my clients with a variety of helpful healers.
What can you do right now about your hoo-ha situation?
You can start by reaching out to your OBGYN/Dr to talk specifically about what your symptoms are. If they cannot help, keep on going. There are some physical therapists that focus only on pelvic floor health, reach out to them to find out about what kind of services they offer. You will ask them to help you figure out what is going on down there: are your pelvic floor muscles weak? Are they too tight? Both? Even though your symptoms may seem to indicate one or the other, it is not always obvious what is going on. Some yoga instructors, and pilates teachers (like me!) are working to help their clients find resources as well as guide them to find exercises and stretches that will help aleiviate their symptoms. I have found that for some women it takes a bit of a cocktail of healers to help them achieve better pelvic floor health. But you can take your situation and health into your own hands. Don't give up.
Here are a couple of books which I have found to be super informative.
And here is a product for those of you who already know you need to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Read the reviews to see if this product will suit your needs.
It seems that here in the US the established medical community sort of ignores Mama's body right after pregnancy has ended! The whole 40 weeks gestation period is about your growing baby AND your changing body. Once that kid is out, It's all about the babe and the Mom is usually too tired to focus on her own health. It's a sad state if you ask me, as it sets the stage for a life time of viewing Mom's body as if it were second fiddle to her families needs. One thing I always say is happy Mama = happier family. I would love to help you prioritize your own well being so in the future you can feel like a million bucks. I know plenty of other coaches/yoga teachers/ and other fitness and wellbeing specialists who feel the same way. I urge you to talk to other women in your area about these issues, and ask them whom they have connected with to help them feel better. If you live in the NYC area, I can totally help you find support.
As always, I wish the very best to you just as you are today Mama. You are not alone in how you feel, and your needs are valid and real. If any of this brings up feelings or thoughts for you, please share with me- I'm always here with open ears.
Love and goodness to you, your Hoo-ha and all the rest of your world.