Pushing Out Bébé: The French Have Postpartum Care Figured Out
Pretending we’re French is one of our favorite leisure activities. Tie a très chic scarf around your neck, bum a cigarette just to hold, walk around with a baguette sticking out of your bag and, of course, rehabilitate your pelvic floor post-birth—wait, wha?
All things wonderfully français aside, one of the most important practices we should be mimicking is their postpartum care for moms, which includes pelvic floor rehab. Think: Kegels but, like, a little (OK, a lot) more intense.
So why is this so important? Your pelvic floor is the wall of muscle, tissues and ligaments that supports your pelvic organs, including the uterus, vagina, bladder and rectum (thanks for the definition, University of Chicago Medical Center). So yeah, clearly important.
How does this tie into birth? Right, so after a delivery, many moms—50 to 80 percent, according to Mother Jones—experience tears in the pelvic skin and muscle. This can mean incontinence (actually, it means incontinence for probably half of all new moms), painful sex and even pelvic organ prolapse. We know, we know. It’s not pretty to talk about, but it’s more common than your water-cooler chats would have you believe.
Got it. So what do they do differently in France? They take postpartum care for moms as seriously as prenatal care, prescribing new moms between 10 to 20 social-security-funded sessions of la rééducation périnéale—or “perineal reeducation.” It’s a kind of physical therapy, often complemented by an intravaginal electrical device (sounds scarier than it actually is), that revives the pelvic floor post-birth. And guess what? It works.
So, besides moving to Paris, what should I do? Curious about pelvic floor physical therapy? Seek out a therapist in your area to find out if it’s right for you after giving birth. Or, you could go the techy route (how “cool” mom of you) with something like the kGoal, a $146 interactive training system (aka a device and app) that creates personalized workouts for your pelvic floor.
Ahhh the terrors wonders of childbirth. Now you truly deserve a croissant or something.