For the next Born to be Adventurous Mamas’ Real Talk we will be diving into the vagina. All jokes aside, I am so excited for this Real Talk Series because issues with the pelvic floor can just make life challenging. Take me for example. I had no idea that my pelvic floor would have trouble holding in my pee while running downhill in a trail race after having my first daughter. Since women’s health is often not discussed so openly, we are opening it up in the Born to be Adventurous Mamas group. During the month of March we will be tackling all things Vagina with host Physiotherapist Lucia Mathieson on the Born to be Adventurous Mamas Facebook Group. To be part of the conversation, make sure to join the group here.
Lucia Mathieson is a physiotherapist that specializes in pelvic floor therapy. She will be covering the following topics each week of the month of March:
1. Importance of pelvic floor in pregnancy
2. Post partum now what? What’s normal and what’s not?
3. Return to activities/sport after having kids?
4. For the 4th topic we will be voting on the following topics to decide which one to tackle a. pain with intercourse, b. abdominal separation, c. painful periods, d. having more kids? Your body will feel different each time.
Real Talk: Meet Lucia Mathieson, Physiotherapist
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Slovakia. After graduating university in Prague, I moved to Calgary to work as a physiotherapist. My dream was to work with NHL hockey players …..hahahaha. Right from the beginning I met amazing people who became my friends. I had amazing colleagues at work who helped me transition to my new life in Canada. I instantly fell in love with the mountains and all the hiking, skiing, skating and mountain biking.
I got pregnant in 2013 and panicked a little bit. I had no idea what I would do on maternity leave. Again the community in Calgary proved to be amazing. I met mom friends that loved the outdoors as much as I did. We would walk miles along river pathways, and hike the beautiful trails in Bragg Creek and Canmore. I absolutely loved my first maternity leave and I always called it the best year in my life.
I got pregnant again in 2015 and my son was born in February 2016. Since then I have been working to find the balance between being mom, wife and myself. I try to expose my kids to the mountains as much as I can and each year I get more and more excited about our adventures. In my free time I LOVE running. It is my peace, meditation and active recovery from kids, husband and life. Since having kids I have done a few half marathons and last year decided to jump into a 50K trail race. This year the goal is Calgary Marathon.
What was your pre/postpartum health experience?
My first pregnancy was great. I was one of those very lucky mamas that felt better moving and exercising than sitting and laying down. I was able to run until I was 37 weeks pregnant.
Post partum with #1( 2014), my mommy brain kicked in and I felt invincible going for my first run at 4 week post partum pushing a stroller. About 4-6 weeks later, running about 2-3 times a week, I suddenly noticed that I couldn’t hold my pee and I felt like peeing all the time. Eventually I found myself needing to pee 3-4 times during a 2 hour walk.
A visit to a Pelvic Floor physio showed that I had an absolutely weak and tight Pelvic Floor muscles that were causing me to have urgent and frequent incontinence.
I realized that the most important thing to do was to give my body appropriate time to heal and recover. I scaled my running to zero until 8 months post partum but kept walking and hiking.
With pregnancy #2(2016) there was none of that amazing energy to exercise, so I took it easy and enjoyed walks and yoga. Post partum with my son was a completely opposite experience than my first maternity leave. I took my time to recover, I watched Netflix, and I read books. I enjoyed lots of baby cuddles and went for little walks with my 2 year toddler. I didn’t start to exercise until 9 months post partum due to sleep deprivation, constant breastfeeding and just being tired.
Why did you decide to become a pelvic floor specialist?
I have been a physiotherapist for 11 years but 6 years ago I took a course about women`s health and incontinence. That is when I absolutely fell in love with this area of my practice. Prior to the course I had never heard of women’s specific health physic and it was not at all mentioned during my physiotherapy training. I also had the idea in my head that peeing your pants after having kids is just a “normal price to pay”. Pelvic floor training opened my eyes about many dysfunctions that women suffer from that are rarely discussed with anybody. Women just go on and suffer in silence.
Currently I work as a pelvic floor physiotherapist full time and find my work very rewarding, challenging, sometimes emotionally draining but wouldn’t change it for anything.
Would women without children benefit from a pelvic floor specialist?
I believe every woman should see a Pelvic Floor physiotherapist at least once in her life. It is important to know about the muscles in your pelvis and how to control them. Every woman should know what happens to your pelvic floor as we age and that pain is not “normal” when it comes to peeing, sex, bowel movement, exercising and more.
What can someone expect when they see a pelvic floor specialist for the first time?
Seeing a Pelvic Floor physiotherapist is usually a 1 hour appointment in a private room. We ask a lot of questions about: bladder, bowels, sex, abdomen symptoms/pain. The exam starts from assessing externally your breathing, abdomen, hips, SI joint and lower leg muscles. The internal portion of the assessment is PAIN FREE. Internally we want to assess the tone of the muscle, the strength of your pelvic floor, the position of your internal organs ( bladder, uterus, bowel). After the assessment you will be given few exercises/stretches to target your weaknesses. I usually follow up with my patients in 2-4 weeks depending on the severity of the symptoms. An average patient needs 2-3 visits.
What is the most important pre/postpartum health advice you could give to a new mom?
Listen to your body. Prenatally I would recommend every pregnant woman try prenatal yoga especially in the 3rd trimester to maintain your hip and pelvic floor flexibility.
In post partum I can’t stress enough to take your time. 6 weeks is not a green light to sign up for anything. There are multiple structures that need to heal in your pelvis and therefore 12-16 weeks seems like an appropriate time to take it easy and start with gentle walks, low impact exercises. It takes 9 months to have a baby and it will also take at LEAST 9 months to get your body to where it used to be.
Where can people connect with you?
You can find me on social media talking about pelvic floor:
Facebook: Lucia Mathieson Pelvic Floor Therapist
My email: firstname.lastname@example.org (ask anything)