Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cultural differences - pelvic floor exercise

Welcome back to my Cultural Differences series! It's been a while…

First, to answer the question in my previous post, Fran and Mina were close, but not entirely correct…it is an intra-vaginal probe, a tool to measure the strength of your pelvic floor muscles (and yes, Mina, insurance covers it!).

Here's is the story that comes with it:

The French state is very concerned about our pelvic floors (among other things…) because to 6-8 weeks after you have given birth, you have a right (100% insurance covered of course) to several physiotherapy sessions to strengthen/retrain your pelvic floor and abdomen. You can go to either a midwife or a physical therapist.

After the birth of M. Sensible I went to the midwife I also did my birthing preparation with. She was young, but her methods were non-technological, so I wasn't introduced to the probe yet… I did have to do a number of exercises though. How did she check how much therapy I would need and how much progress I was making…? Yes, with her fingers.

After M. Gourmand's birth my OB/GYN recommended a physical therapist, who then introduced me to the probe (which I could take home, however I did not get a copy of the software...).

Apart from some general abdominal exercises on a yoga mat, the pelvic floor exercises were done and measured with the probe. Picture this: you lie in a gynecological position, therapist inserts probe, hooks it up to a PC, shows you the screen with some sinus-type wave on it and tells you to follow the wave by contracting your muscles. The therapist can adjust the strength level - so if you did really well on one exercise, she might bump up the level and then the next exercise you don't even come near the top of the wave… So much for morale, ha.

I must say that even though after several years at the RE, the weirdest thing for me was having something vaginally inserted which was then hooked up to a PC. But it was nice to see on the screen how I was doing compared to just having the midwife telling me if it was OK or not.

After 8-10 sessions I was good to go and got some exercises to do regularly at home. You know what happens with those…

Where you live (and if you have had the ability to give birth), did you receive any pelvic floor therapy sessions after childbirth? If so, did insurance cover them? If not, did you get any recommendations to do exercises at home? Did you follow through with those exercises?

5 comments:

Lollipop Goldstein said...

I would have never guessed that. I was thinking that two stick-like things were ear buds :-) Not quite.

I was told to do kegels. But no, I didn't really follow through. I don't know anyone who got counseling like that after birth over here. I wonder why.

aryanhwy said...

Nope, nothing like that in the Netherlands!

areyoukiddingme said...

Having had a baby that never dropped and a c-section, I don't imagine my pelvic floor got any action during pregnancy, so no exercises were recommended for me! I thought that thing looked like a probe of some sort, but I couldn't imagine a body part with two distinct sections that close together. Who knew France was so into technology?

Mina said...

AHA! :-)
I don't know if I should be glad that in Germany the pelvic floor strengthening is done the old fashion way. There are courses covered by insurance, one can chose between courses with the baby, or without. It is pretty much physical therapy, the exercises involve a lot of imagination, for example, one imagines the pelvic muscles are an elevator, and tries to go to the fifth floor, then the third, then the first,back to fourth - let me tell you, it is quite hard to break :-)). And that is just the first session, because then one gets to do that while bending, joggin on the spot, blah-di-blah. The checkup was done by my doctor, she sent me to therapy, she assessed the results.
The conclusion is that women need to do this pretty much all the time, for threst of their lives. While driving, while walking the dog, while doing house chores. Apparently it becomes a habit. It hasn't for me so far...

Fran said...

Tsk tsk in Ireland?? Pelvic floor exercises are recommended alright, but no way someone would physically check that you are doing them correctly! Ah, the saying goes "your bits are your bits, I don't want to know about them unless I absolutely have to (like a life and death situation!!)"