Advice line - Tackling a taboo topic

Ruth ten Hove outlines a CSP and Royal College of Midwives initiative that aims to reduce rates of incontinence after childbirth

Incontinence is believed to affect more than five million women in the UK. It can lead to significant health and emotional problems, while also having a devastating impact on people’s quality of life.

A survey of 1,900 women conducted on a parenting website for the CSP and Royal College of Midwives (RCM) suggests the true rate of incontinence could be far higher than had been thought, with many women feeling too embarrassed to seek help and treatment.

This is despite the fact that incontinence can usually be treated easily.

One woman in two (49 per cent) who took part in the survey said they were currently experiencing a problem with leaking urine following the birth of their baby and around one in three (31 per cent) used to have the problem.

Though much can be done to prevent incontinence, in particular through undertaking regular exercise of the pelvic floor muscles, many women fail to receive the information they require.

They need to know about the preventive benefits of pre-operative pelvic floor muscle exercises and guidance on how to perform the exercises correctly.

It is for this reason that the CSP and RCM are collaborating to raise awareness among patients, health professionals and the general public.

A series of awareness raising events on this topic gets underway this month.

This includes the launch of an i-learning resource on the RCM website that will upskill midwives and help them educate and reassure patients.

Midwives need to feel confident to teach patients about pelvic floor muscle exercises.  We also plan to publicise the guidance at high-profile healthcare conferences.
Ruth ten Hove is a CSP professional adviser
A patient information leaflet is available and the leaflet can also be downloaded from the NHS Choices and the National Childbirth Trust websites.

Ruth ten Hove

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