As you know, I was on my soapbox last Friday and I did promise to tell you about how I went from ‘Oops’ to ‘solid core confidence’. Before I go on, here’s a potted history of I ended up in the oops situation in the first place. It’s a common story. Nothing out of the ordinary here.
Cost Centre 1 was born 21 years ago, with Cost Centre 2 appearing 15 months later. Both of them received excellent postnatal care as well as early years care. I can’t say the same about my own postpartum care. Like many women, I tried for years to lose the baby weight but always looked pregnant no matter how much weight I lost. And to make matters worse, I was quietly suffering from stress incontinence. Running after the kids, coughing, sneezing – all common activities, lead to embarrassment. My self-confidence was at an all-time low. I felt fat, frumpy, and had a dampness problem.
At every well woman check-up I would ask if anything could be done, only to be fobbed off the usual statement “What do you expect? You had two babies back to back.”In other words, pad up and shut up!
Not willing to give in so easily, I tried kegel exercises. No improvement.
I spent a huge sum of money on a battery-operated kegel machine. No improvement.
I spent even more money going to legs, bums, and tums exercise classes. No improvement.
And then menopause appeared on the horizon and things got worse. I couldn’t go running anymore as it made the whole situation worse. Dancing? Forget it. And as for the hay fever season, I lived in fear of the next sneeze. If I was lucky, I’d feel a sneeze coming on, be able to stop whatever I was doing, cross my legs (and fingers) and brace myself for the oncoming explosion.
Sometimes I was not in a position to brace myself and the inevitable happened. I’d beat a hasty retreat to the nearest ladies loo and do as much damage limitation as possible. Damn it! Was I that old accident-prone woman already?
And then a chance comment from friend lead to a hushed conversation with her. She’d been in the same boat. Note the word “been”, past tense. She had regained control and was now on her own personal fitness mission now that she had a functioning core. I wanted this for myself.
Armed with the contact details of the women’s healthcare coach, I filled in the short on-line form and waited for the initial phone consultation. Looking back, this was one of the most important calls I’ve ever had. It was a life-changer. We agreed to proceed and meet in person to benchmark my current fitness levels, posture, abdominals etc.
After checking over my tummy and posture I discovered the reason why I always looked pregnant. I had spent the past twenty odd years with separated abdominals, diastasis recti to give it its posh name. Mine was five fingers wide, i.e. about 3″ (7.5cm) at my belly button! No wonder none of the exercises and machines worked!
With little core stability, the pelvic floor muscles had no solid foundation to anchor onto, hence the stress incontinence. And it can be reversed. As with anything in life, there are no 100% guarantees but with carefully planned exercises and an adjustment of food intake, improvements will happen.
After 6 weekly visits with my coach, and some homework, we measured the belly gap and it had closed to a smidge of a finger width. And my oops moments? They are in the past. The biggest revelation happened when I was asked to provide a midstream urine sample for the doc and managed it effortlessly. It wasn’t until I marched back triumphantly into the consulting room, that I truly realised what I’d been able to do. I don’t think the doc has ever seen such a happy patient, proudly proffering up a neat, tidy and more to the point, dry sample bottle. I felt like I’d won a medal.
So now you know why I am so happy to be able to run, dance, and chase my pup, and why a stable core is key to resolving the embarrassing moments for millions of women.
So if any of you reading this are facing similar issues or know someone who is, have courage. Find a women’s healthcare physio/coach and take back control of your core.
incidentally, I have some lovely healing smoothie recipes to share. They make getting your daily fruit and veg intake really simple and tasty.
Happy Monday everyone xx