The importance of the Pelvic Floor

It is vital that a women has awareness and control of her pelvic floor muscles before, during and after giving birth. As part of our mission to support the training of skilled and empathic young professional midwives, GreenLamp coordinated a workshop in Basic Body Awareness Therapy (BBAT) at the Hamlin College of Midwives in March, with the emphasis on pelvic floor muscle training. Attendees included midwife-students and teachers from the Hamlin College of Midwives, and nurses and physiotherapists from Hamlin Fistula Hospital. After the 2-day workshop the students reported that they “….understand the connection between abdominal muscles, breathing and the pelvic floor and how it works together” which indicates that it was a great success and we hope it will be the first in a series of BBAT workshops.

The idea for the workshop came out of a trip that BBAT specialist and GreenLamp Member Inger Wulf made with Christina Blecher in 2016 when they visited the Hamlin Fistula Hospital, which inspired Inger to make a personal contribution. Read on to hear more from Inger about her experience of facilitating the workshop, and the knowledge sharing that took place between the attendees and trainers:

“I was thrilled have the opportunity to be involved in a 2-day workshop we called “Activating the pelvic floor muscles using Basic Body Awareness Therapy (BBAT)” at the Hamlin College in March 2018. The teachers of the workshop were myself (Inger Wulf); I am a Physical Therapist and BBAT teacher in Zürich, and my colleague Amanda Lundvik Gyllensten a Physical Therapist, PhD, Assistant Professor, senior lecturer at Lund University Medical Faculty, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Lund, Sweden.

On the first day of the workshop Amanda and I met a group of 22 midwife students, two experienced nurses, a physiotherapist and two teachers at the college. We presented for the first hour, and spent the rest of the time doing body exercises, group work and role plays. Through the exercises we wanted the workshop attendees to experience for themselves how to find the important muscles in order to strengthen the pelvic floor. We worked while sitting, standing, lying and walking.

On several occasions the exercises felt unusual for them and they laughed, and we laughed with them. During discussions they did not speak much, as they were not so used to speaking English. At times it was difficult to understand what they said and meant, and they often spoke very quietly. We think the workshop was very new and unusual for them, different to how they usually learn. Despite some of these challenges we worked with a very open-minded and positive group.

They had a very flexible attitude towards time, coming late to the lessons did not seem unusual to them. We are used to a schedule that should be followed – it was good for us to see how it can work another way than we are used to. We learned to be flexible and didn’t take the time-schedule too seriously.

We asked the attendees to describe in their own words how they found the workshop, and the feedback was very positive with comments like:

– ‘This workshop was very fun and intensive, to relax our body I enjoyed it. It was new to me to concentrate on my body.’

– ‘A very good experience and I understand the connection between abdominal muscles breathing and the pelvic floor and how it works together’

Amanda and I are happy and grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute to the health of women in Ethiopia, and want to thank GreenLamp for their organization and support.”