A Cooch Coach: The Personal Trainer for Your Vaginaby Elizabeth MacDonald
Up until today, I did not know that ‘Cooch Coaches’ were an actual thing. After a friend sent me this article, not only was I intrigued, but I have started looking for a coach in my area. I wanted to find out if they truly exist. Let’s just say that after 4 vaginal births, I *may* be interested in reaping the benefits of such a coach! Ha. A Cooch Coach, as it turns out, is not really a professional title. A physiotherapist is what you will want to google to find a coach near you. I prefer the term ‘Personal Vagina Trainer.’ In France, women seem to talk about their vaginas pre and post birth openly. They discuss their vagina’s sexual abilities and strengths. They are not ashamed of the birthing goddesses their vaginas make them! These women are actually given free visits to a Cooch Coach after giving birth. It’s no secret that France’s Universal Healthcare system is one of the top in the world, but come on US healthcare, step it up. All joking aside though, there are plenty of physiotherapists who work with postpartum moms in the US, and they serve an amazing purpose. And your insurance may cover your visits. A woman’s body is meant to give birth. We are strong, amazing creatures – more so than our society likes to give us credit for. Pregnancy can be hard on the body though. If you add in excess weight gain, lack of exercise, and other not-so-wonderful lifestyle habits, the body can have a rough recovery path after giving birth. But there is so much more going on than just the stretch marks and numbers on the scale. During pregnancy, the uterus expands to 1000x its original size. As it grows, other organs must shift to accommodate it. Once your baby is born, your body does not just magically fall back into place over night. Unless the pelvic floor muscles are in great condition, the follow issues can arise:
- Urinary Incontinence: Leaking urine throughout the day, during activities, or when standing up.
- Pelvic Organ Prolapse: The pelvic floor supports the uterus, bladder, and rectum. Without proper support, one of these organs can become weak, stretched or ‘fall’ from their normal position.
- Urinary Frequency or Urgency
- Bowel issues including constipation, straining or pain
- Pain in the lower back, the pelvic region, the genital area or the rectum
- Pain during or following sex, orgasm or stimulation
How does a ‘Personal Vagina Trainer’ Help?A physiotherapist will ‘workout’ your pelvic floor muscles. She will work with you to ensure that you are properly doing the exercises, and then you will be required to complete the workouts at home in between visits. The treatment you receive will be based on what the physiotherapist finds. She may provide:
- Education about your condition
- Diet Changes
- Exercise Plans
- Stretching Recommendations
- Stress Management
- Pelvic Floor Muscle Re-Education: Kegel Exercises - Exercises for good bladder and bowel and to regain normal muscle tone and strength.
- Electrical Muscle Stimulation
- Manual Techniques to Reduce Pain: Coughing, sneezing and bracing techniques
- Relaxation Techniques
- Advice on Posture and Back Care
How to Kegel at homeIt is guessed that over 50% of women are not kegeling correctly, and in turn, may actually be causing more harm than good. The only way to know if you are kegeling right is to have an internal evaluation done. Your midwife or OB should be able to examine you, or refer you to a pelvic floor physiotherapist. According to Global News, these are signs that you are kegeling wrong:
- Bearing down
- Clenching butt muscles or leg muscles
- Holding your breath
- Contracting muscles without being able to let go
- Other people can tell you’re doing them
- Find the right muscles. To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream. If you succeed, you've got the right muscles. Once you've identified your pelvic floor muscles you can do the exercises in any position, although you might find it easiest to do them lying down at first.
- Perfect your technique. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for five seconds, and then relax for five seconds. Try it four or five times in a row. Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions.
- Maintain your focus. For best results, focus on tightening only your pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks. Avoid holding your breath. Instead, breathe freely during the exercises.
- Repeat three times a day. Aim for at least three sets of 10 repetitions a day.
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