Why Mums Don't Jump
Busting taboos about leaks & lumps after childbirth. A kick ass podcast about incontinence, prolapse and pelvic pain.
The gender health gap. It's a phrase we're hearing more and more and is relevant around the world. So what's it all about and what does it mean for those of us with pelvic floor dysfunction? Helen chats to the award-winning health journalist, Sarah Graham, founder of the Hysterical Women blog and author of a new book on the gender health gap, due out in 2023. In lieu of a full episode, here's something to make you smile from a listener and poet, Jacky Power, aka The Therapeutic Poet. Normal service resumes next week! Pelvic floor problems are surrounded by stigma and shame, but have you ever wondered why? Why do we find anything remotely related to our genitalia so embarrassing? In this episode Helen meets Dr Catherine Blackledge, author of Raising the Skirt: the Unsung Power of the Vagina (originally published as The Story of V). They explore historical attitudes towards female genitalia and the importance of language, when even the words we use have a literal root in the Latin for ‘shame’. They look back to a time when the vulva was feared and revered and ask 'what changed?'. Diastasis recti is where the muscles that run down the middle of your stomach separate during pregnancy. It's really common and usually goes back to normal within eight weeks of delivery. But sometimes it doesn't. And it can lead to back problems and hernia - both things that Niki Odogwu has been dealing with since childbirth, alongside stress urinary incontinence. She shares her story with Helen and explains how a postpartum fitness programme has made all the difference. It's a big day in Helen's pessary saga! After a year-long quest to be fitted for a vaginal pessary, she's offered a private appointment with a specialist in London. Tracey Matthews is a women's health physio, a former British rower and proud pessary wearer. She walks Helen through an assessment and sets her up with a cube. But will Helen's pelvic floor be up to the challenge? Helen is joined by Elaine Miller (aka Gusset Grippers) - a fellow of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and award winning comedian who's on a mission to tackle your pelvic floor...whilst making you laugh. They discuss the long-standing evidence behind kegels, why pelvic floor problems are a feminist issue and how using humour can change lives. Returning to running postpartum is one thing. Then add pelvic floor problems to the mix. Now imagine you're an ultra-runner who likes to do 100-plus mile races. Helen talks to Sophie Power about incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse and her journey back to fitness after childbirths - despite being told she may never run again - and how important it is that mums are helped to reach their goals, whatever those goals might be. Surgical treatments for pelvic floor problems are many and varied, but with the vaginal mesh scandal fresh in our minds, it's easy to feel lost and unsure. In part one of this two part series, Helen speaks to Consultant Colorectal Surgeon, Julie Cornish, about the kinds of cases she sees and some of the lifestyle changes and treatments that might help. Helen is joined by Sara Duckett, a listener and a mum-of-two. Sara has struggled with urinary and bowel incontinence, as well as prolapse, since the birth of her first child in 2016, but says a non-surgical treatment (PTNS) has been life changing . They discuss the mental health impact of pelvic floor problems, the stigma that surrounds them and the importance of never giving up . Menopause is having a moment, with celebrities, books and TV programmes taking on the taboo that has surrounded it for so long. But what does menopause (and perimenopause) mean for those of us with pelvic floor problems? Will things inevitably get worse? Helen chats to a self-described ‘pelvic health nerd’ - the physiotherapist Michelle Lyons - about what’s going on, how to manage it, and why knowledge really is power. Helen is joined by Carina White - broadcaster, cultural commentator and co-host of the podcast Black Mums Upfront. Carina shares her experience of incontinence after childbirth and her long journey towards finding help. She talks with passion about how it's affected her socially, why she wants to speak out and how she's found strength in sisterhood. If you're anything like me and you know you're supposed to be doing your pelvic floor exercises but...(insert excuse here)...fear not! Here's a sixty second squeeze-along with comedian and fellow of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, Elaine Miller. Ring, Gellhorn, Donut, Cube, Shaatz, Gehrung: they might sound like Trolls' characters, but they are, in fact, types of vaginal pessaries. Helen speaks to the pessary expert and 'Pelvic Angel', Gaynor Morgan for an overview of what's available, how to try one and the incredible story of how she came to invent her own. Pop Club is back! Helen catches up with 'Skye' and 'Jess' -- friends with pelvic organ prolapse who keep each other smiling. There's a new baby, talk of surgery and reflections on birth trauma and mental health...and a ban on mirrors. Wands. Cones. Probes. Biofeedback. Stimulators. Shorts. Apps. Weights. Chairs. Video Games?! Helen speaks to the pelvic health physiotherapist and self-confessed gadget nerd, Amanda Savage, for an overview of pelvic floor tech. Helen chats to Dr Jan Russell, a listener with a prolapse, a coach, a grandmother, an author and, in her own words, 'a feisty old crone'. Jan talks about pelvic organ prolapse after menopause, the shock of finding out the day before her 60th birthday and learning how to manage it all with good humour. Having another baby when you have pelvic organ prolapse. There are just so many unknowns. Will pregnancy make your prolapse worse? Would it be better to have a caesarian? Helen speaks to the pelvic health physio, Clare Bourne, who has a prolapse and has gone on to have a second child. Helen is joined by Peace Bailey, a mother of two who lives in Spain and blogs about moving there from the UK. She shares posts on Instagram about motherhood, race and faith. But she's also chosen to speak out about nighttime urinary incontinence, or bed wetting, which she experienced after childbirth. They discuss the stigma around pelvic floor dysfunction, how hard it is to access good information, and how mums owe it to themselves to get help. Sex with pelvic floor problems. We're going there! Intimacy after childbirth is one thing but how do you begin to navigate that if you have incontinence or prolapse or pelvic pain? Helen and the pelvic health physiotherapist Jilly Bond discuss the issues women with pelvic floor dysfunction can face in the bedroom, both physically and mentally. Helen meets up with Chantelle, a mum from Manchester who is charting her journey with birth injury and bowel incontinence on Instagram as @tears_from_tearing. They discuss birth, treatment, the impact on family life and spa treatments...sort of. (TW: birth injury, forceps, trauma, surgery) Helen catches up with the pelvic physio Tiffany Sequeira (@gynaegirl) who's on a mission to educate! When should we learn about pelvic health? How do we make it more inclusive? And how do we get past the taboo? Helen is joined by the award-winning broadcaster and journalist Emma Barnett who says a hypertonic pelvic floor is one of the 'most upsetting’ things she’s ever been through. They talk about awareness, a need for research and how ‘women’s issues’ don’t always get the platform they deserve.
- You thought it was all over. It is now! Helen rounds off the series with Rachel Horne, News Presenter for The Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Virgin Radio. Rachel gives an honest and moving account of traumatic birth, facing up to her urinary incontinence, marathon training...and screaming in the woods.Helen catches up with her 'Pop Club' - three friends with pelvic organ prolapse who keep each other smiling. There's talk of difficult births, pelvic pain, surgery and pessaries...and bonding over broken vaginas at a local coffee shop.Helen meets the freelance writer, Sarah Haselwood, who's lived with pelvic pain since the birth of her first son 7 years ago. Sarah talks about her traumatic birth, her long journey to diagnose a tight pelvic floor and the jaw-dropping treatment which gave her back her life.How do you find a new path to fitness when prolapse or incontinence is holding you back? How do you get past The Fear and learn to move again? How do you break a sweat without losing your insides? Helen meets Emma Brockwell, a specialist women's health physio, co-writer of the first guidelines for postnatal women returning to running and co-founder of the pelvic health campaign, Pelvic Roar.Helen meets the London author, Luce Brett, who became incontinent after the birth of her first son. Luce talks about dealing with the shock and embarrassment of urinary incontinence and prolapse at the age of 30. She shares her journey through physio and surgery, her thoughts on turning the stigma on its head...and measuring wee in a takeaway cup.What are the mental health implications of pelvic floor dysfunction? How do you get your head around the emotional impact of conditions like prolapse, incontinence or pelvic pain and find a new happy? Helen meets Dr Rebecca Moore, a perinatal psychiatrist and co-founder of the campaign Make Birth Better.The Manchester actress, Ainsley Howard, invites Helen over to her house for this week's episode of Why Mums Don't Jump. You may know her as the voice of Fizzy in the animated TV series, Digby Dragon. She's also a mum to a pre-schooler with a second baby on the way and she explains why she's not afraid to talk about her experience of incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.If you're new to leaks and lumps, this is the place to start! Helen and the Manchester-based women’s health physio, Katie Syrett, romp through some of the most common pelvic floor problems. They go back to basics on incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse and pelvic pain, as well as discussing what really happens during a physio assessment and what we can expect from (shhh) menopause.Far too many women are suffering in silence with pelvic floor dysfunction, too embarrassed to seek help for prolapse, incontinence or pelvic pain. Helen shares her experience with her best friend, Cath. She’s ready to laugh, cry and cringe her way to recovery or acceptance. She just needs some help to get started.Honest chat about incontinence, prolapse and pelvic pain. Not a trampoline in sight. Helen Ledwick meets other mums who are struggling with pelvic floor dysfunction and hears from the health professionals who live and breathe pelvic floors.
Hello"Hi. I'm Helen Ledwick. I started this podcast when my pelvic organs took a nosedive."
The blogThe lowdown on lumps and leaks and words of wisdom from the experts who live and breathe pelvic floors.
Links & resourcesI've found it hard to find much in the way of support for people with pelvic floor dysfunction. Here are a few links I've pulled together.
The doodlesCat Pearson is a doodler, designer and mum based in east London. After crying and laughing her way through Series One, Cat hooked up with Helen to help her bring more positive and honest stories to life through illustration.