Mummy MOT: What is it and should you have one?
Everything you need to know about the Mummy MOT.
I recently went for a mummy MOT, which I have to admit I’d never heard of until a few weeks ago. To be fair, it’s not exactly the most alluring name, is it? Makes me think of a test women have to take to see if they’re parentworthy, which, thankfully, it is not.
A mummy MOT is, infact, a physio session that focuses specifically on postnatal health. I want to stress right now that, like any physio session, the majority of what happens during a mummy MOT will depend entirely on each individual. But as a rough guide, it includes time spent discussing birth experience(s) and mental health, before going on to physical exams that check posture, balance, mobility, breathing, abdominal muscles and pelvic floor.
This service is not exclusively for women who have just had a baby, a Mummy MOT can happen months and years after if you have issues relating to pregnancy or childbirth that you’d like assessed.
My main reason for having a mummy MOT was, first and foremost to help with my c-section recovery, and also because I am used to doing high intensity exercise and weightlifting at least three times a week, and I wanted to see when it might be possible for me to safely return to the gym, and which exercises I should do to help rebuild my body and avoid injury.
Mummy MOT: What to expect
After talking through some of my medical history, my physio, Nicki, first checked my posture, which meant simply standing in front of her from the front, back and side, before her asking me to carry out various movements (squats, lunges, standing on one leg etc) so she could assess my mobility, balance and core strength.
It was at this point Nicki told me I had ‘great toe separation’. I have literally zero fucking idea what that means, but I felt immensely proud of my toes in that moment. It was clear from the second I met her that Nicki knew her onions, so I was happy to have impressed her with my hooves without having tried in the slightest. Anyway, I digress..
Next up it was on to the bed where Nicki checked my hips, this involved simply lifting and rotating my legs, before asking me to push against her hand with my knee. Next she moved on to my c-section scar. Nicki explained that after 6 weeks, because I had no complications in terms of infection etc, I could start doing some light massage on my scar. When I asked what the point of this was, Nicki explained daily massage can be really help to normalise touch, mobilise the tissue, reduce scar adhesions and restore normal glide with movments (yes, I did write that all down).
Nicki showed me how to massage my scar, which was, for me, pretty awful. There is a large section of my lower abdomen that has lost a lot of sensation, it feels numb almost, and when touched is the most horrible sensation. So much so it actually makes me feel a little sick. Nerves take a long time to recover, but Nicki explained they often respond well to being given lots of sensory input, e.g. being touched by different textures (she said brushing the area gently with an old toothbrush is a good one). Nicki shared this YouTube video on c-section scar massage if anyone else is interested.
The next stage was to check my diastastis, the separation of the abdominal muscles that happens during pregnancy. My report concluded I have ‘functional’ diastasis recti/tummy gap. This means that there is a mild separation of the tummy muscles, however I can create good tension across the midline, and can therefore progress with rehab/
strengthening of the abdominal wall. In short, I can do some abdominal exercises but they are specific to my current level of diastasis and what my muscles can cope with right now.
Mummy MOT: Pelvic floor exam
What happened next at my mummy MOT is what I can see as being the off-putting part for some women. Unfortunately, the only way to accurately assess the pelvic floor is internally, which means a finger up your bits. And I won’t lie, it was not over quickly. But Nicki made it talked me through every stage in details, and constantly checked before each that I was ok to proceed.
As I explained earlier, I love to lift weights, and so my pelvic floor assessment also included an exam while standing and squatting. Yes, you read that right. Nicki held her finger inside me as I did a couple of squats to assess the muscle as I moved as I would in the gym. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little, well, awkward. But what I needed to know was how effective my pelvic floor is when I'm exercising, and so this extra exam was necessary.
I should stress that not everyone would warrant such an exam – this was specific to figuring out how and what my body needs to reach my goals going forward. However, a mummy MOT is a session that focuses on pelvic health, so if you're thinking of having one, definitely go prepared to have an internal examination.
A mummy MOT has been designed specifically to help women fully recover (or as much as possible) from childbirth, and that will look different for each individual. I personally can't recommend it (and Niki if you live in the South West) enough. Visit the Mummy MOT website for more details and to find a practioner in your area.
Lead img: Niki Hurst