New pelvic health clinics to set up by NHS

Tens of thousands of pregnant women and new mums will receive support to prevent and treat incontinence and other pelvic floor issues, thanks to new clinics set up by the NHS.

The new services will be initially rolled out in 14 areas of the country with up to 175,000 women set to benefit from the additional support every year. The clinics will offer a one stop shop for women with symptoms, bringing together midwives, specialist doctors and specialist physiotherapists under one roof.

NHS England says that every woman receiving maternity care in the pilot sites will be able to access the service throughout their pregnancy, which includes providing exercises that can help to prevent problems from developing in the first place.

Clinics will also provide training and support for local clinicians who are working with women, including GPs and midwives.

Research shows that one in three women experience urinary incontinence in the first year after having a baby and up to three quarters of these women continue to experience this in the following 12 years after giving birth. A further one in 10 women experience faecal incontinence and another one in 12 will have a pelvic organ prolapse.

Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, NHS England’s Chief Midwifery Officer, said: “We know many women don’t report issues with incontinence because they are embarrassed about seeking help. Bringing together experts in pelvic health in one place will offer women a way of seeking help quickly and easily, as well as sending the message that postnatal incontinence is nothing to be ashamed of and can be treated.

“We all have a duty to share evidence-based messages – including that incontinence products are, primarily, a temporary support, and women with incontinence should seek medical support. We must make sure that these messages are reinforced wherever possible, and not contradicted.”

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