"Empowering" program for mums tackles health in first 2000 days

The Women's Health Physiotherapy Unit at the Royal Hospital for Women had a vision: they wanted all women having a baby at The Royal to receive gold-standard physiotherapy care. That’s why earlier this month the dream team launched EMBODY, a first-of-its-kind physiotherapy program for women during the childbearing years.  

The Empowering Mothers Toward Better Health Outcomes During The Childbearing Years – or EMBODY – program is transforming the way women receive health information during pregnancy and the postnatal period.  

Hannah Graetz, Specialist Continence and Women’s Health Physiotherapist, Royal Hospital for Women, said many mums aren’t accessing the right information about exercise or the management of common pregnancy symptoms.

"Now, thanks to the launch of EMBODY, all women giving birth at The Royal will have access to physiotherapist-guided health information and behaviour change support to help them stay active during pregnancy and recover well after birth," Ms Graetz said.

According to Ms Graetz, many women experience a deterioration in their health during and after pregnancy – and they don’t have to. "Symptoms are common, but not normal, and early education, physical activity and pelvic floor exercises can prevent many pregnancy symptoms like aches and pains, bladder and bowel problems from developing, and promote a quick recovery after birth," Ms Graetz said.

As part of the program, mums-to-be are invited to tune into a four-part virtual health series during their pregnancy, and then again once they’ve given birth. Carla Sank, Musculoskeletal and Pelvic Health Physiotherapist, Royal Hospital for Women, said physical activity has enormous health benefits for mums-to-be, but that pregnancy makes exercise hard.

"Nausea, fatigue, back pain, leaking – we hear you! That’s why we’ve tailored both prevention and treatment solutions for a more comfortable pregnancy, a more active birth and a speedier recovery,” Ms Sank said.

EMBODY has already received overwhelmingly positive feedback via Care Opinion Australia. One very happy consumer shared a glowing review for not only the program, but the expert physiotherapy team that launched it.

"This initiative is amazing, and I hope to see it roll out across NSW and/or nationally. It’s a fantastic support for new mums who have many questions about their bodies following birth, such as 'what’s normal, what isn't, what should I look out for'. It’s a safe space to ask those questions that might otherwise not be asked in a physical group setting," she said.

"It gave me the confidence to book a postpartum pelvic floor check when I felt things were not as they seemed, whereas otherwise I’d never have had the confidence to do so," she continued.  

"This is a wonderful support for postnatal women, empowering us with knowledge and making the whole process accessible and easy! Thank you to The Royal Physiotherapy Department."

Physiotherapists at The Royal