Why I love teaching postnatal rehabilitation?
I wrote a post a while ago about how I came to teach Postnatal Rehab, and it was a good opportunity for me to reflect on how unexpectedly my journey has led me to where it has. But the bit that I want to talk more about, is my interest in injury, and how having experienced this within my own body has driven my passion in the work I now do. When I injured my back during my dance training, I very quickly saw how it consumed my mind and by extension my life. My system became so hyperaware of how it was feeling at all times, what made it worse, what if anything made it better, I was continuously searching for answers. Knowing my pain became a full time occupation. I saw 13 medical professionals, many had conflicting opinions, not much helped. Until over a year later, I met a physio who literally changed my life and allowed me to have the dance career I had so desperately wanted. I was 15 and it was a lot to handle, my future career rested on not just being pain free, but being extremely flexible and strong. The experience really showed me how bodies heal when they get the correct treatment, and also how much pain effects our mental health. When a new mum comes to me with prolapse or diastasis or any pelvic floor dysfunction, I treat it as an injury, not just in terms of the physical support that body needs to rehabilitate, but also emotionally. I look at what she has had to deal with up till this point. She will most likely be extremely sleep deprived, and be spending many hours feeding, rocking, caring for her baby, with the discomfort/pain/worry about her body humming away in the background. Often when woman come to me it’s after a second pregnancy, so likely caring for a toddler at the same time. Even without injury it is an immensely heavy load. When you then add possible birth trauma, lack of medical support and community support and it’s no wonder the picture both physically but of course emotionally is not a good one. What I found hard about dealing with injury was the seeming lack of control I felt I had around my recovery. Injury is a dancers worst nightmare, a break in almost religious routine, continuous preoccupation with pain, a desperate hope for recovery and the inevitable crushing setbacks in the healing road. I had 2 serious injuries in my dance training and career, they were complicated and both times I landed up recovering and rehabilitating for over a year.. in the short life of a dancer this is long and difficult.
Looking at it now though, these times brought some unexpected gifts. I learnt how to keep going despite things looking fairly unhopeful. I learnt that when you eventually find the right treatment/support/rehab programme your body knows how to heal. I learnt that healing is non linear, set backs will happen. What I didn’t realise at the time was how much this was going to serve me, not just in my dance career, but in giving me an empathetic perspective on rehabilitation and healing, as well as a passion for it. It wasn’t untill having my first child and having my own birth injuries, that a new path unfolded. I don’t have any regrets in having spent most of my life consumed by dance, it gave me my best friends and some unforgettable experiences, but mostly it taught me grit and fairly dogged determination to keep going and finding the solutions to enable healing. What I hope to bring the mums I teach on re-centre, is of course the physical technique to improve their symptoms, but also the empowerment to know they have some control over this, and they are very much part of the healing picture, but most importantly that they can heal.