Physios raise awareness of risks of postnatal lifting, and the benefits of pelvic floor training

Specialist physiotherapists can provide expert advice to new mothers about lifting and handling techniques, so they avoid back injuries and protect themselves from pelvic organ prolapse.

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Physiotherapists can educate new mothers about safe lifting and handling techniques

This is one of the messages the professional network of Pelvic, Obstetric and Gynaecological Physiotherapists (POGP) highlighted to the media last week, when they commented on the potential dangers of using baby car seats to carry children around.

POGP spokesperson Amanda Savage told the BBC car seats were not designed to be carried for prolonged periods and new mothers should avoid lifting heavy items, as they are ‘very, very vulnerable’ in the initial weeks following childbirth.

‘The first-stage seats have a carrying handle and can be lifted out, but they are only really intended to carry small babies, who have fallen asleep,’ she told Frontline.

‘And even then we wouldn’t recommend carrying them more than a short distance, for instance from the car to the house, because ergonomically they are not great to carry.

‘The real danger comes when people use car seats to carry a nine month or older baby around, because the weight of a larger child is then added to the weight of the seat itself, and none of these seats weigh less than four kilograms.

‘Carrying something that heavy and bulky on one side of your body is not good for anyone’s back – not only mums, but also dads and grannies and everyone else too.’

She added that physiotherapists could teach people how to offload weight on to the pelvis, using lifting and handling techniques.

‘And we can help new mums rehab fully -  by strengthening their core and improving their cardiovascular fitness – so they can achieve the functional strength they need to carry out their daily activities, as well as their hobby and activity goals.’

Managing and preventing pelvic problems

As well as educating new parents about lifting and handling, Ms Savage said POGP physiotherapists could help mothers prevent and manage pregnancy-related health issues such as pelvic organ prolapse.

‘The most common problem presenting postnatally is incontinence but pelvic organ prolapse is a distressing and disabling condition experienced by many mothers too,’ she explained.

‘Our training allows us to identify and diagnose pelvic organ prolapse and actively manage it, by providing effective pelvic floor muscle training.

A free guidance booklet, which outlines the causes of pelvic organ prolapse and explains how woman can improve any symptoms they may be experiencing, is available on the POGP website.
 
‘But we advise women to also make an appointment with a POGP physiotherapist, rather than just learning the techniques from a leaflet, because if they start doing the exercises by themselves they won’t be able to tell if they’re doing them right – as you can’t see if you’re doing it correctly.
 
‘Whereas, if they come to an appointment they will receive a specialist vaginal examination and a proper check of their muscles.’

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by Robert Millett

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