Online support works for new mothers' postnatal health during COVID-19 pandemic

Women face many new health challenges just after giving birth.

As well as the baby blues, mastitis and getting used to a new, postnatal body, bladder incontinence and a weak pelvic floor are common. Women need access to the right professional advice, so issues with stress incontinence can be tackled, and, hopefully, long-term problems avoided.

At the moment, this is problematic as COVID-19 pandemic has made access face to face consultations far more difficult.

Digital health programmes 

Unsurprisingly, health providers are having to think more creatively about how to ensure patients remain empowered and in touch with high quality advice. And it looks like digital programmes could hold the answer.

One such way is online exercise and support programmes, such as MUTU, a 12-week online programme of post-natal exercise and to strengthen the pelvic floor.

Research into this module-based programme shows that a high percentage of women who have used it, reported significant physical improvements for postpartum symptoms such as bladder weakness, pelvic organ prolapse and diastasis recti – the partial or complete separation of the rectus abdominis, or 'six-pack' muscles, which meet at the midline of your stomach. Diastasis recti is very common during and following pregnancy. Kate Middleton is said to have utilised the system after giving birth to get back into shape.

A solution to improve diastasis recti

A high percentage of participants reported feeling physically stronger, mentally stronger and more confident. The pilot study of 110 women found that:

• 95% of women saw improvement in bladder weakness

• 91% saw diastasis recti improvement

• 95% felt better about their body function

• 76% of women claimed to feel physically stronger

• 59% more self-confident

• 40% mentally stronger

Prescription physiotherapy

The 12-module MUTU System programme, is inclusive of nutritional guidance, around-the-clock expert support and clinically proven exercise routines, is approved by NHS Digital.

More emphasis on pelvic floor health will improve the wellbeing of women in the UK. In the past British women’s postnatal health has been not up to the same standards as other European countries.

For example, in France, women are prescribed physiotherapy sessions at every eight week check-up, in order to tone and strengthen their weakened pelvic floor.

In the UK, not only is this not readily available to women on the NHS, but often the effects pregnancy and childbirth has on the pelvic floor aren't even discussed. This can leave a lot of women feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable, unaware that actually there's a lot that can be done for them.

Other ways to treat bladder weakness after pregnancy

  • Urethral bulking

Involves injecting fillers around the mid-urethra, which is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the genitals. This encourages the closure of the urethra and reduces leakage of urine. It has become an important alternative for treating patients requesting minimally invasive procedures.

  • MonaLisa Touch Laser 

This is a carbon dioxide (CO2) laser, which applies laser energy to the vaginal walls. This stimulates the production of new collagen and rehydrates and tightens the vaginal wall. Research has shown improvements of 90% in vaginal laxity, and 72% in pain during sex, after 3 sessions of MonaLisa Touch®. It can improve incontinence in suitable patients by significantly improving tissue tone and elasticity in the walls of the vagina.

  • Vaginal ring or cone 

A vaginal ring pessary that keeps the vaginal walls in place. A cone is similar way to a tampon, with a string attached. This keeps the pelvic floor muscles engaged as the will keep the cone from falling out, thus strengthening the vaginal wall

Read more 

The organ that stores urine. Full medical glossary
The involuntary passage of urine or faeces. Full medical glossary
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