New data suggests that around a third of pregnant women do not carry out pelvic floor exercises before giving birth. Does this matter?
Encouraging pelvic floor exercises
Recent online research carried out by Health & Aesthetics has found that 29.2% of women either expecting or having had a baby had never tried to carry out pelvic floor exercises during or after their pregnancy.
However, numerous health organisations encourage women to carry our regular pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy and this practice is incorporated into the NICE guidelines on antenatal care.
For example, a joint statement by The Royal College of Midwives and The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy comments that ‘ we support early intervention for pelvic floor muscle training for childbearing women, to minimise pelvic floor damage and help avoid the common problems of incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse during the childbearing years or in later life.’
Preventing perineal tears
The results of research in Spain last year found that women who participated in a daily pelvic floor training programme during pregnancy had the following outcomes:
- They were more likely to have an intact perineum after the birth
- They were less likely to require an episiotomy
- They were less likely to experience a third or fourth degree tears
This would suggest that regular pelvic floor exercises can, indeed, be highly significant in helping women to avoid severe injury.
Recovering from perineal tears
Pelvic floor exercises are also thought to help the healing process for women who have experienced a perineal tear during childbirth.
The NHS recommends commencing pelvic floor exercises as soon as possible after giving birth if a perineal has occurred. The exercises should aid the healing process by increasing blood flow as well as helping to prevent urgency and incontinence by developing the pelvic floor muscles.
Diagnosing Severe Perineal Tears
The most important factor regarding recovery from severe obstetric trauma, however, is for it to be diagnosed and repaired as quickly as possible after the birth.
A delay in responding to a third or fourth degree tear can result in long-term bowel incontinence leaving the woman unable to prevent the involuntary passing of wind and faeces. Delayed surgery may not be appropriate and, in the event that it does take place, is less likely to produce a satisfactory outcome than had the injury been repaired at the time of its occurrence.
Severe perineal injury during vaginal childbirth appears to be increasing. The impact and trauma that it can cause is also gradually acquiring a higher profile. Accurate diagnosis is absolutely crucial and a failure on the part of medical professionals to achieve this, leaving the woman with long-term severe continence problems may be considered to have been negligent.
If you are suffering with the shocking effects of a failure to diagnose your third or fourth degree tear, contact us to discuss the possibility of a compensation claim with a specialist medical negligence solicitor.
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If you, or your family member, has suffered a birth injury tear, please call us now for free, no obligation advice on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile click to call 01275 334030) or complete our Free Online Enquiry.