Women’s Health After Motherhood

Free online course for postnatal mothers

Women’s Health After Motherhood - ISCPHi A

A new free online educational resource for postnatal mothers is being launched today 21st October 2019. This 4 week course has been developed by the Maternal Health and Maternal Morbidity in Ireland (MAMMI) team, Women's Health chartered physiotherapists Cinny Cusack and Niamh Kenny from the Rotunda Hospital and maternal health experts including perinatal psychiatry. The course content was based on "What women told us they wished they had known" about their health after motherhood in a Irish longitudinal study looking at the health and health issues experienced by over 3,000 first-time mothers.

Last week, Meghan Markle highlighted what many of the mothers in the survey told us, "not many people have asked if I am OK". This course aims to address this question. Dr Deirdre Daly asks mothers in the first week, "how are you?". Once a mother has given birth, the focus of care moves to the baby and new mothers have told us this may lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness, fear, concern over what is normal and not knowing how to seek professional help or trustworthy evidenced based information when needed.

This course shares advice and strategies to teach women how to look after their bodies in particular their pelvic floors and minds during the postpartum period in order to 'thrive' and not just 'survive'. It builds a forum for women to support one another and to learn how to address common physical and mental health challenges after birth.

This course is also a useful learning support for women's health physiotherapists with resources that can be downloaded and printed off for use with patients.

Week 1: Maternal health: Presents myths and misconceptions on maternal health globally. Learners will understand what is common versus what is normal, and how to prioritize your health postpartum. This week also looks at postnatal recovery and returning to normal activities and exercise. It highlights the importance of considering the health and recovery of the pelvic floor when returning to exercises and promotes the use of the returning to running guidelines which were published in 2019. https://www.running-physio.com/postnatal-guide/

Week 2: Physical health: Chartered physiotherapists Cinny Cusack and Niamh Kenny will discuss the science behind urinary incontinence, what causes it, how the bladder works and what are the impacts that urinary incontinence has on women's lives. One video teaches how to do the pelvic floor exercises and tips for pelvic floor muscle training techniques. There is a coached pelvic floor exercise task which has both visual and auditory feedback to facilitate a woman doing her fast and slow pelvic floor exercises and a downloadable exercise tracker so that it will help women record their progress and add as a motivator to progress from a beginner to advanced level.

Week 3: Mental health: Postpartum anxiety and depression are discussed, with learners identifying and building a social support network.

Week 4: Sexual health and relationships: Returning to sexual intimacy, identifying sexual health problems and recognizing intimate partner violence are the topics examined in our final week together. The role that physiotherapy can play in the physical recovery of post partum sexual dysfunction is addressed. Women may have experienced post partum pain which has led to dyspareunia (painful sex). It is vital that women know that holistic treatment is available and that the physiotherapy approach to sexual health looks at the all the aspects of the women's recovery. This includes musculoskeletal problems, abdominal muscle and core recovery, correct breathing patterns and posture. This week aims to help and empower women to recognise when to seek the appropriate treatment.

This Massive Open Online Course on Women’s Health After Motherhood (WHAM), hosted on the FutureLearn platform, presents a suite of online resources which were developed from funding from three different bodies and are also available in Spanish and soon to be in Dutch. Join the course for free at https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/womens-health-after-motherhood


Cinny Cusack

Physiotherapy Manager

The Rotunda Hospital