Dorset Local Maternity Services are currently working to improve the care received during pregnancy and after to prevent and treat incontinence and other pelvic floor issues.

People receiving maternity care are being invited to complete a survey about the quality of information, advice and support they have received regarding their pelvic health, during pregnancy and right after birth. This survey will be open and ongoing over this year.

Sally Sheppard, Specialist Physiotherapist and Project Lead Dorset, said “This is a fantastic opportunity to empower women with the knowledge ‘to get fit on the inside’ and improve their pelvic floor muscles for the rest of their lives.

“So many older women tell me they wish they had been told more about their pelvic floor muscles when they had their children as they would have given a little more time to look after themselves and not just their new baby!

“We can all work together to make pelvic floor exercises something that every does! It’s as important as teeth brushing – and we can’t wait to hear from our local women so we can deliver this support to suit everyone. It is an exciting opportunity for us to use people’s experiences and feedback to help shape the new pelvic health clinics.”

Research shows that one in three women experience urinary incontinence in the first year after having a baby and up to three quarters of these women continue to experience this in the following 12 years after giving birth. A further one in 10 women experience faecal incontinence and another one in 12 will have a pelvic organ prolapse.

The new pelvic health service will deliver good identification of pelvic health problems and will bring together midwives, specialist doctors and specialist physiotherapists to knowledge share and improve the support to women during their childbearing year with a longer-term goal of improved lifelong pelvic health.

Physiotherapists can teach women how to exercise pelvic floor muscles correctly, give advice on diet and fluid intake as well as helping women to monitor their progress. The specialist physio teams will be working with their midwifery colleagues to share this knowledge and improve resources for women during pregnancy and after.

There will be an option to self-refer so that women don’t feel embarrassed seeking help in addition to GPs and midwives being able to refer patients for help.

The service will also provide training and support for local clinicians who are working with women, including GPs and midwives.

The support is part of the NHS Long Term Plan’s commitment to improve the prevention, identification and treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction, so that fewer women experience ongoing issues after giving birth and later in life.

The survey can be found here or via the Maternity Matters Pelvic Health webpage. Your experiences and help will improve pelvic health during pregnancy and beyond.

For more information, contact Sally Sheppard is the Project Lead, Perinatal Pelvic Health Project, Dorset.