The Internet is saturated with information from all sorts of sources. As a result, I can’t stress enough how imperative it is for you to ensure you are getting expert advice on pregnancy & postpartum, as it is such a transformational and sacred time in your life.
You need to do your own detective work to investigate who is behind the website you are reading, and whether they have any qualifications i.e. Are they a qualified practitioner who has had extensive training and clinical experience in the area, and do they reference literature in their information?
I have brought this issue to your attention because I have come across several exercise programs and information sites on pregnancy & postpartum that make claims and use statistics that just aren’t true. Women are drawn into these programs expecting to achieve the unrealistic results the program advertises, and end up bitterly disappointed. Commonly these programs promise dramatic weight loss, a flat stomach, and do not take into consideration the pelvic floor.
Multiple women have booked a consult with me after following one of these exercise programs that promised them a cure for their diastasis (stomach separation) and a flat stomach after having their baby, but were left disheartened and worse off. Similarly, postpartum women have followed training programs that have completely disregarded their pelvic floor, and they have ended up with a symptomatic prolapse. (To read more about prolapse click here).
To me, this just isn’t good enough. Women (…you) deserve to be given accurate information and safe exercises from qualified practitioners, not taken for a ride as a result of clever marketing.
To ensure you are getting information from a credible source be sure to:
- Read the person’s ‘About’ page. This is where they should tell you their qualifications and level of experience. If there is nothing written there, then you can assume they don’t have any.
- Check the statistics they are quoting are referenced on their blog i.e. the name of the study they used should be listed, or a link to the study. Again, be weary if they quote bold statistics or statements without any reference.
- Gauge how the information you are reading sits with you. What does your gut tell you? Does what you are reading feel like the right thing for your body? Does it feel like you are being promised the world? Does it feel authentic? Do you feel like you are supported?
- If you are unsure of the person’s qualifications and experience, then email and ask them. If the website doesn’t have an email address or you never hear back, then you have your answer – stay clear!
- See a Women’s Health Physiotherapist in the flesh.
Sharing information from someone’s own personal experience can be a way for blogs to help others – I am not refuting that. However, if the person doesn’t have the knowledge and expertise behind what they are teaching, then it actually may not be safe for consumers. You see, to teach others it’s more complex than simply saying “these exercises worked for me so they will work for you too”. It’s about having the education on what is safe for pregnancy and postpartum, and therefore understanding the specifics of:
- Pelvic floor muscles
- Vaginal vs caesarian birth
- Postpartum recovery
- Rectus Abdominis Diastasis
- Muscle recruitment
- Motor control
- And the list goes on
On top of this, the person teaching you needs to also research recent literature and know how to interpret it. Just because a research study says something is good or bad doesn’t mean that this is necessarily the advice you should be giving others. It’s essential to analyse the quality of the study. Without getting too geeky, there are different levels of quality depending on the type of study, the methods used, the sample size and whether there was bias etc. To interpret a study one must do a University subject on evidence based studies and statistics. As it sounds, it’s not the most reverting of subjects, but I can now see its very important purpose. Even though there is lots of research studies being done these days, we need to decipher which of these are of good quality and worthy of sharing.
To put things into perspective for you, to become a Masters-trained Women’s Health Physiotherapist, I firstly completed 4 years of training to become a Physiotherapist, and then did a following 2 years of training to complete my Masters in Continence and Women’s Health. In addition to this, I also continue to update my knowledge with recent literature and developing myself personally and professionally.
On top of this, I have had 10+ years of clinical experience as a Physiotherapist, and with each year I continue to refine my skills, learn more and become a better practitioner. The Australian Physiotherapy Association has also recognised me as a Titled Women’s Health Physiotherapist.
As a result of all of the above, I can safely say that I am a trusted source of information, providing you with expert advice on pregnancy & postpartum.
My intention of writing this post is not to scare you; it’s to help you be an aware and informed consumer. To know the difference between a website that is full of hot air, compared to a trained practitioner who is a reliable source of information. Due to the fact that anyone can create a website, post information and sell products online, we really do need to do our own detective work to ensure it is coming from a credible source.
If nothing else, take this away with you today – Making decisions on your health needs to be done with awareness and caution, rather than accepting everything we read on the Internet as gospel.
If you have any questions on the topic, flick me an email or comment below 🙂