pelvic health

Meet Melanie, perinatal physiotherapist

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Name: Melanie Stevens Sutherland

Workshop: Trimester 2 Stream: Birth and your Pelvic Floor 

Why did you become a perinatal physiotherapist?
Despite being a physiotherapist for years, I was absolutely awed of the capabilities of the human body through my own experience of pregnancy. I was also disappointed at the lack of physical and emotional care I was offered postnatally. As I struggled through my own recovery I knew I could do better for others and ultimately shifted my business model to support parents, through services and excellent practitioners, from conception to recovery.

How did you choose your care team for your birth?
I am a cervical cancer survivor, and as such was sent to the high risk program at Sunnybrook hospital for the birth of my daughter. My daughter ended up failing to thrive in the end stages of my pregnancy and I developed preeclampsia which resulted in an emergency induction. When I was pregnant with my son, although I was not treated as high risk, because of my history we decided to go with a hospital birth and an OB-GYN again. I would have loved to have experienced other birthing professionals, but was very lucky to have two excellent doctors who were very caring and did a wonderful job guiding us through what at the time felt overwhelming and scary, and was ultimately most comfortable with our choice for our situation.

What was your most useful gadget/tool/item for parenting?
I’m not sure there was one gadget that was really the be all and end all for me. If anything I think I learned through my first pregnancy that I required a lot less than I believed I needed pre-baby. The one thing I’ve used consistently with both my kids has been a carrier. It is functional, and I love how close I feel to my kids when using it.

What excites you most about presenting at 4 Trimesters’ conference?
The prospect of sharing education on pelvic floor is very exciting. Many people are not comfortable talking about their pelvic floor let alone becoming acquainted with it but it is such an integral system for almost everything we do. In North America, we are quite far behind in this area, and we need to start getting comfortable with these discussions.

To join Melanie for her workshop at this October's conference, register here.

Vital care for your pelvic floor

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For this post I interviewed Chana Ross, the clinical director of Vital Physiotherapy and Wellness. Her business was a sponsor for our first 4 Trimesters Conference, and she will be a speaker at our next conference on May 12, 2018. A warmer person, you will not meet. Just the kind of practitioner you want if you have to have someone zoning in on your most intimate areas ;)

How did you get into the field of pelvic floor physiotherapy?
I have three beautiful children. After my second I was experiencing pelvic pain. After visiting my doctor and being told that everything was “fine” I went searching for other answers. A friend of mine had recently become a pelvic physio and encouraged me to come to see her. It changed my life. I decided that I wanted to change other people’s lives the same way that my friend had changed mine!

What's the ideal time for people to come see a pelvic floor physio?
ANYTIME! I think any person who has ever had a baby should see a pelvic physio once. But, we encourage people to come BEFORE getting pregnant to ensure that you feel your best throughout the pregnancy, but that you also optimize your delivery and your recovery! We also see people years after having had their babies, through menopause, and people of all ages who have never been pregnant.
Its empowering to understand your pelvic floor muscles and what the muscles are doing. A pelvic assessment is usually an “Aha!” moment for most people.

Is there something you wish more people knew about their pelvic floors?
Most people assume that they will be coming to learn how to kegel. But your pelvic floor muscles (the muscles which sit at the bottom of your trunk and are responsible for holding up your organs, for keeping you continent, and for sexual function) are actually part of your "inner core system” and they work together with your breathing diaphragm, your inner abdominal muscles (your transversus abdominus) and your inner most back muscles (your multifidi). So, you never “just kegel”. You have to learn how to coordinate all four muscles. Actually, most people who we treat are almost in a perpetual kegel, they clench their pelvic floor muscles All. The. Time. We are usually training clients how to lengthen and let go!
You should see a pelvic physio if you are experiencing leaking of any kind or amount (even with a full bladder), any pain with sex, any low back, hip or pelvic pain, abdominal separation postpartum, and to prepare for labour and delivery!

You were 4 Trimesters' very first sponsor. What inspired you want to support this event?
Oh my goodness! So many reasons! As a pelvic physio and health clinic owner, it is my job to empower people! To teach them that they do not have to settle for the status quo. That they can expect more -- from their bodies, from the medical system, and from their "village." One of the best ways to do that is to educate them. That way people can make decisions about themselves and their families from a point of knowledge and understanding, not fear.
The other clear reason to participate, was to support a fellow mama as she in her work to empower and support other parents! It is our job as practitioners, parents, and humans is to lift each other up and work together towards our goals. When we heard about this amazing event it was more a question of how could we NOT participate?!

To get in touch with Chana and the rest of the Vital Wellness team click here, or to book an appointment, go straight to this page.
Vital is co-hosting an event on December 3 that you might want to check out, too!