Curse those winter bugs!…do you have ‘the knack?’


Have you got the knack?

Ugh…it’s that time of year…BUGS! The lurgy has hit the Curtis household!

Poor Mattie was poorly over the weekend. He lost his voice and was just really unhappy for 3 days…and nights- I barely slept for 3 nights as I held him so he could sleep. The lack of sleep for those 3 days wore me down, making me more susceptible to picking things up…and I seemed to pick up whatever he had 🙁 I now have a sore throat and streaming cold.


I get worried when I get colds. I tend to get bad coughs, and these mean trouble for me and my pelvic floor. Every time you cough or sneeze, you get a build up of pressure, which, if you don’t have the control, will go south; stress on the pelvic floor.


During my first pregnancy, I suffered cough after cough after cough. I was unhappy in my work (this was prior to what I do now!), feeling incredibly stressed, commuting 4 hours every day…I was the perfect breeding ground for these winter bugs. And of course, being pregnant, there’s nothing really you can take to help. So I coughed away for months. Of course back then, I didn’t know how important it was to protect your pelvic floor, so I just, tired and frustrated, coughed away without second thought.


Post pregnancy number 1, enter pelvic floor dysfunction. Sleepless nights, suboptimal nutrition (still not as educated about these things as I am now)…perfect breeding ground for bugs. Every cough I had I could feel the awful pressure on my pelvic floor…I felt I was coughing my insides out! By this point, I’d embarked on my education around women’s health, but didn’t really feel in control of what was going on.


Fast forward to pregnancy number 2, enter more knowledge and progress with pelvic floor dysfunction, with women’s health physio support. I managed to get away with one cough. Not bad for me, especially with a child who was in nursery at the time! I was devastated when I got my cough. I could feel the pressure in my pelvic floor, and I also felt as though I was ripping my tummy muscles apart, especially around my hernia. It felt like one step forward, two steps back..


However, the reality of it was more two steps forward, one step back. Once the cough was cleared up, it didn’t take long to get back to where I was, improving my prolapse symptoms. Not only did I have the knowledge and support to strengthen my pelvic floor muscles, I also had techniques I could use to protect me.


Enter ‘The Knack”! The knack is essentially a strong pelvic floor contraction that you do just prior to, or during a cough, sneeze or anything else that’s going to cause pressure that you can’t withstand automatically (even picking up your baby, or standing up!). When we cough or sneeze, our pelvic floor muscles should automatically engage to support your organs, or prevent loss of urine. But with pelvic floor dysfunction, you may have lost the ability for this to happen automatically, so the knack will protect you from leaking, protect a prolapse from worsening, protect the abdominal muscles from being subjected to excessive pressure.


So, while we want to try to prevent getting poorly in the first place (think good, healthy, balanced food, rest where possible, reduced stress…), knowing what to do when the inevitable does happen is so important.

So far I seem to be avoiding any coughing with this cold, but I can still feel the pressure on my pelvic floor each time I sneeze (a LOT today!). I'm taking this as a reminder to give my immune system a good boost with lots of good food...especially with all the time I spend hanging out at the school gates!


Anna Curtis is a fully qualified and insured Sports and Clinical Massage Therapist, and Personal Trainer, specialising in Pregnancy and Postnatal. She is owner of BodyResults and co-owner of TeamMama

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