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I'm a crocked mum-of-four and I'm angry

"You can walk!" said the consultant. He'd been looking at a scan of my knees and he reckoned I'd be on them when I came into his surgery.

The scans were "damning". It was just a question of where I was going to park my Zimmerframe.

Oh, alright, he didn't say that at all. But by then my imagination was working overtime.

Until a young female physiotherapist told me all I needed was an exercise routine.

She was the first physiotherapist I'd seen in all the years since I'd hadchildren.

I'd never bothered strengthening my back or my stomach muscles and as for my "pelvic floor" - did I leave it behind at the hospital?

I went to a physio for the first time the other day when my knee gave out.

This was a full decade after I had my last child. And I realised I was a total crock.

I'd carried four children, including twins who weighed 14 pounds between them, and nobody, but nobody, ever suggested I see a physiotherapist.

Nobody suggested I do something about my stomach muscles. Nobody even enquired as to the whereabouts of my pelvic floor.

New mothers in Ireland are not encouraged to take care of their bodies because it's reckoned their job is done.

Their job is the baby they've had. That's the body that's worth worrying about.

warnings

I knew all of this but I'd been so caught up in caring for my kids I had never thought of my own welfare despite plenty of warnings.

Healthy, active, energetic me had been totally compromised by having the kids. And no-one had ever suggested I get myself checked out.

It's not as if there's any mystery about any of this. Muscle dysfunction after kids affects half of mothers worldwide.

And this dysfunction can lead to all sorts of serious problems.

But no-one bothers to check Irish mothers for muscle damage after they've had their babies. The hospitals do classes but they're not one-to-one.

There's a GP visit at six weeks but plenty of doctors don't even mention the downstairs department. I think every woman who has a baby should be called in and prescribed exercises or physiotherapy, like they do in France.

One physio I talked to said young mothers all over Ireland are wearing incontinence pads because they don't know their problem can be fixed or they're too embarrassed to talk about it.

Or they're too broke to go to a private physio.

There are shades of the symphysiotomy scandal here. It is high time that the Irish health service realised that women have to go on living in the bodies their babies leave behind.


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