A Postpartum Journey on the Netball Court

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At the age of 41, after welcoming my third child into the world, I found myself at a crossroads many mothers encounter postpartum. This time, though, it felt different. This child, marked the end of my childbearing years and the beginning of a journey to reclaim my body & prioritise health. A journey that, unbeknownst to me, would introduce me to an unexpected hurdle that’s rarely talked about openly among women, yet affects many of us: pelvic floor dysfunction.

Like many, I craved the return to physical activity not just for the physical benefits but for the sense of self it promised. After years of pregnancy and breastfeeding, my body no longer felt like my own. So, when my sister’s netball team needed an extra player for their Wednesday night games, my heart leapt at the opportunity. Finally, a chance to engage in a team sport, to feel the rush of adrenaline, and to be part of something outside the realm of walking, Pilates, and, spin classes.

The first game was an eye-opener in more ways than one. Decked out in my bike shorts, ready to conquer the court, I was hit with the harsh reality of postpartum life – I had peed myself. This moment, far from the empowering return I had envisioned, left me grappling with feelings of slight embarrassment.

It took me three months to confront this issue head-on, a delay I’m not proud of, as a healthcare practitioner, considering we had added women’s, men’s, and pelvic health physiotherapy into our Multi-disciplinary team in 2022 (not to mention I had direct access to the best practitioners in the business!) One night, after I peed a pair of loosely fitting jogging shorts (not bike pants, I had learned they were not ideal for netty) I finally booked an appointment with Jane Brownhill. I insisted on being treated as any patient would, putting aside my professional knowledge to fully immerse myself in the healing process.

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Jane was a revelation. She guided me through the intricacies of pelvic floor dysfunction, shedding light on factors I hadn’t considered, such as the impact of hormonal fluctuations on pelvic floor function. Her approach was both educational and empathetic, making me feel seen and understood. Through an internal pelvic floor assessment and a pelvic floor ultrasound, we discovered the root of the issue: stress incontinence. This diagnosis was a crucial step towards regaining control.

The importance of addressing this now couldn’t be overstated. With age, the hormonal changes of menopause loom on the horizon, threatening to exacerbate pelvic floor issues if left unmanaged. Fueled by the desire to avoid a future reliant on incontinence pads and motivated by the wish to continue playing netball (and maybe wear bike pants again) I embarked on a supervised exercise program including pelvic floor exercises targeted to my individual pelvic floor needs.

However, like many others, I found myself in a cycle of compliance and non-compliance. Initial enthusiasm gave way to neglect, a common tale among patients. But this isn’t where my story ends. It’s merely a chapter in a longer journey of self-care, understanding, and perseverance. I’ve booked a string of appointments to keep me accountable.

This experience has illuminated the silent struggles many women face postpartum, struggles that are often shrouded in shame and silence. It’s a reminder of the importance of pelvic health, the need for open discussions about postpartum challenges, and the critical role of specialized physiotherapy and pracititioners in navigating these waters.

My journey is far from over. As I lace up my sneakers and step back onto the netball court, I do so with a newfound stubbornness. This isn’t just about netball; it’s about reclaiming a part of myself that was lost in the beautiful, chaotic whirlwind of motherhood. It’s about prioritising my health, often overlooked during motherhood due to the busy nature of life.

My experience, though personal, is far from unique. It underscores the critical need for more open conversations about women’s health issues, especially those as common yet under-discussed as pelvic floor dysfunction.

In sharing my journey, I hope to foster a community of support and understanding, where women feel empowered to seek help without shame, to embrace their postpartum bodies with compassion, and to prioritize their health. It’s about more than just physical recovery; it’s about nurturing our well-being, honoring our bodies’ stories, and moving through life with confidence and joy.

To those navigating similar challenges, know that you’re not alone. The path may be fraught with unexpected hurdles, but it’s also filled with the opportunity for healing, you can get help. Let’s break the silence on postpartum health issues, championing a future where every woman feels supported in her journey to reclaim her body and her sense of self.

So, here’s to the next game, hopefully, a dry pair of shorts, and to the continued journey of reclaiming our bodies and our lives postpartum.

If you are in need of a Women’s Men’s and Pelvic Health Physiotherapist please view our team here or read more about how this service can help with a range of issues here.

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