It is 2016 and Calm and Connection Physiotherapy has finally developed from a ‘soup’ of ideas swirling around in my head to an actual physiotherapy service with actual clients. We are getting ready to hit the ground running and deliver the most up to date pelvic floor physiotherapy and ‘Mindful Core’ Pilates classes in Sale, Victoria.
I first discovered the term ‘Calm & Connection” when I was 5 months pregnant and became suddenly terrified about the prospect of childbirth. Along with every other woman who has experienced pregnancy, I heard people say; “Ooh! Do you have a birth plan?” “Have you done your pelvic floor exercises”, and of course, the dreaded stories from women who had already been there telling me about the horror of tearing, episiotomies, incontinence and ‘never being the same down there again’. Having completed my post graduate certificate in Pelvic Floor & Continence Physiotherapy I was prepared for the physical aspects of pregnancy and childbirth, however, even though I was already very familiar with the physical therapy side of things, I needed help. I needed help to deal with the anxiety, stress and fear that can come along with pregnancy and the idea of childbirth.
I began reading up on mindfulness meditation, a practice I had used a lot when treating chronic pain clients, and that I hoped would somehow relieve the stress and anxiety associated with pregnancy and childbirth. In my readings I came across Dr Kerstin Uvnas Moberg, a prominent physiologist and mother, who demonstrated that oxytocin (the hormone involved in labour, breast feeding and a mother’s bond with her child), and mindfulness meditation interact with each other, and play important roles in strengthening the section of our nervous system that is responsible for inducing peace, calmness, feelings of safety and curiosity, and importantly, decreased feelings of stress and anxiety. Dr Uvnas Moberg termed this division of our nervous system, the ‘calm & connection system’. It lies on the opposite end of the spectrum to our ‘flight & fight system’, and it is the system I needed to be dominant to help me deal with my fears.
I spent the remainder of my pregnancy practicing mindfulness every day. I continually worked on trying to tap into the ‘calm and connection’ system and visualise the oxytocin flowing through my body. I swam in the ocean every day and spent my time being aware of the water on my skin and the flowing movement of my arms and legs. I became truly present with my body and mind and this is what I believe gave me peace, safety and calm throughout my pregnancy.
To this day I tell my friends that pregnancy was one of the most beautiful and rewarding times in my life. Don’t get me wrong, like many women I experienced the nausea, the pains, the heart burn and the sleepless nights trying to get comfortable, but even then, I learnt to be at ease and present with the changes occurring in my body. My friends who have experienced pregnancy give me looks of confusion and doubt when I tell them my story of mindfulness. That is OK, because we are all different, and different women will have different strategies and ways of coping that will work for them. To all those who want to experience the journey of mindfulness, pelvic floor rehabilitation and embracing the peaceful and healing corners of our nervous system, I created Calm & Connection Physiotherapy.
The Whole Story.
While I loved my pregnancy, mindfulness was not the whole story. After completing postgraduate studies and creating a clinic that specialises in pelvic floor physiotherapy I find myself at an open door to the world of pelvic floor rehabilitation and everything my clients need to know to help them care for that ‘very private area’ that ‘no one should ever talk about’ (or at least this is the way we have been come to think about our pelvic floor). Continence and pelvic floor dysfunction has been a taboo topic in the past, but not anymore. We are ready to talk about everything ‘taboo’ when it comes to continence, pelvic floors and even… vaginas! Stay tuned for heaps more blog topics on how to stay pelvic floor safe.
The evidence for physiotherapy in pelvic floor rehabilitation is out there. We have the knowledge and the skills and are ready to harness it to help break the silence and the suffering, and ultimately, improve people’s quality of life through physical therapy.
Be kind to yourself.