How can physio help - Mary's story

Mary was 37 years old and her baby 6 months old, when she finally found a physiotherapist who could help her. Had she not searched to find the right person who knew how to treat pelvic floor problems, she may still be putting up with this personal secret problem today.

After the birth of her second baby, Mary experienced 'faecal incontinence'. Her second child weighed 7.5 pounds, and during the birth she had an episiotomy and also had a tear towards her back passage which took a long time to heal.

Mary had experienced faecal incontinence since the birth, with two minutes of warning prior to needing to use her bowels, before loss of control occurred. This limited her activities involving leaving her home, as she would be unsure of when she needed to go. Occasionally she also leaked urine when she had a cough or a sneeze.

Mary was seen by a physiotherapist working in women's health who treated pelvic floor problems. When her pelvic floor muscles were assessed, it was found that part of her pelvic floor wasn't working. Mary couldn't feel her pelvic floor muscles working when she attempted to lift them. Because of this, Mary used a pelvic floor muscle machine at home which stimulated the nerves and pelvic floor muscles. After using the machine for 3 months, and working specifically on her pelvic floor muscle exercises as taught by the physiotherapist (targeting her pelvic floor level of fitness), Mary could feel her pelvic floor muscles, and had gained control over her bowel and her bladder.

Her personal experience was very distressing before finding specific Physiotherapy help in assessing and treating her pelvic floor problem. Third degree tears which go to the back passage (anus) do present a higher risk of having a bowel control problem, so if you do or have experienced a third or fourth degree tear, then you should be referred for postnatal pelvic floor follow up if it is available in your area.

Find about more about Preparing Your Pelvic Floor for Birth and Recovery here

Mary's story has been used with permission (her name changed) and cannot be reproduced or changed without written permission from Demac Resources Pty Ltd. 2011-2020.