Article by Davina Gordon, Creative Director, Naissance Marketing & PR.
The postnatal period is a heady mix of hormones, emotions, and exhaustion. My son is now three, a beautiful, sturdy, and rambunctious boy. I wonder how I got through those days of sleep deprivation, of watching my baby’s chest rise and fall in the night, of being entirely responsible for a wholly dependable infant. It was all-consuming. Your own health takes a back seat, you survive for your infant, that’s it. Strong coffee was my go-to and food was merely fuel.
I didn’t take care of myself, which meant I hit a wall when I was eight months posntatal. It was the scariest time of my life. I now know that postpartum health is crucial for the mother to not just survive but thrive in motherhood. The newborn mother must find her feet, must learn how to be in her new body. She must know how to look after herself. It is called The Fourth Trimester for a reason. It seems heartbreaking that the amazing body that nurtured and grew a human is not given the care and attention it got during pregnancy.
I remember the monotone words of my female GP who asked at my six-week check; ‘Is baby feeding ok? Do you need contraception?’ I didn’t think anything of it at the time, I was probably in a sleep-deprived daze, but now that maternal self-care is enjoying an important renaissance, it bothers me. It’s not just the psychological impact of giving birth, it is also the physical repercussions that are all too common which have a significant impact on a woman’s mental health, her relationships, her career.
Let’s look at the shocking stats. A quarter of women experience pelvic floor dysfunction after having a baby. PFDs can include Urinary Incontinence, painful urination, and pelvic girdle pain. 1 in 2 postnatal women has some degree of symptomatic or asymptomatic Pelvic Organ Prolapse.
These often debilitating conditions are commonly put up with because I think that comes innately with being a woman. As nurturers, we carry the load, we look after our families, our friends, juggle careers, run a home at the sacrifice to ourselves.
I am an optimist and I believe that change is happening albeit slowly. Women’s health has a seat at the round table. This is of course down to the tireless work of both women and men in the pelvic health space whether that is a physiotherapist, GP, or obstetrician. Women’s health physios have a powerful platform thanks to social media. One such company is The Mummy MOT, run by Maria Elliott, a pelvic health specialist. It offers a postnatal check from six weeks postpartum, that assesses posture, functional movement, tummy gap and includes a pelvic floor examination. The Mummy MOT is passionate about helping women get back to the things they love doing, be that running, trampolining or whatever it is that makes them feel good. I was lucky to have a Mummy MOT myself, and it was an eye-opening and empowering experience.
There are exciting advancements in the femtech world too. Contrelle Activgard, a soft bladder support for women suffering from Stress Urinary Incontinence is one such innovation. Contrelle has been around for 10 years. It works by support the bladder neck and urethra. It restores the bladder neck to its natural position helping prevent bladder leaks when you laugh, cough, sneeze or exercise. In short, it helps women get back to what they love doing whether that work, rest or play.
I am lucky that I had an uncomplicated pregnancy and a water birth meaning I sustained only minor tears. My body recovered quickly, my mind was another story. The first setback for me was when I returned to work after maternity leave. I was made redundant. This was a major blow to my finances and my confidence. Somehow, I felt the strength to make a decision – to work for myself. I created my Digital Marketing agency Naissance PR & Marketing, and I haven’t looked back. It has always been important to me to make a difference – and I wasn’t doing that working in back to back thankless jobs that did not appreciate my fire.
That fire is dedicated to educating and empowering women to be their own advocates. Even with all the strides being made in women’s health, we still live in a world were many diseases affect women disprportionately. Heathcare has always been designed around men – because it was easier – one being that men don’t suffer hormonal imbalances every month.
Women’s health is not a woman’s problem, it is a universal problem. And women’s health is not just about the reproductive organs either. We must find a way to help women help each other, to be their own advocates. Women must play the central role in their care.
As Teresa Graham, Roche says: “When women are healthy, families are healthier, societies are healthier and the world is a better place.”
Davina Gordon has 15 years of experience as a journalist and editor, and 3 years as a digital marketing consultant. Her writing on women’s issues has been published in various publications including Metro, Stylist, All Bright, and Belfast Telegraph. She moved into digital marketing after her son was born and now runs a boutique agency in Bangor, Co. Down where she lives with her family. Davina combines her creative flair with her talent for writing engaging copy that helps her clients shine. Davina is a passionate advocate for women’s health and loves to empower her clients to get the visibility they deserve.