Suddenly, You Just Love Doing Your Kegels
They call it rééducation périnéale
après accouchement (perineal retraining
after childbirth) -- and it's part of
the standard 10 week postpartum rehab
program prescribed for new mothers in France.
While promoting perineal fitness is nothing new -- heck, even guys are working on their pelvic floor muscles these days -- what's captured the attention of readers of the UK newspaper The Guardian, which reported on the trend a few days ago, are the weekly perineal electrotherapy sessions that have become part of the standard postpartum regime for new moms.
"The prescription was for a post-birth tradition in France, a procedure known as la rééducation périnéale après accouchement (perineal retraining after childbirth)," Janine Di Giovanni wrote in The Guardian. "I am far too puritanical and squeamish to discuss in detail what is actually involved, but it's a ritual nearly every French mother goes through. Let's just say it's like an extended course of gymnastics for the pelvic area, which also involves electric devices being used to strengthen the birth canal muscles."
Electro-stimulative perineal treatments are an established therapy for urinary and anal incontinence in both men and women. And, over the past few years, articles such as this one in the French journal Perineology (.pdf) ) have highlighted the potential benefits of electro-stimulative perineal treatments during the postpartum period.
But does that mean they should become a standard postpartum therapy for every new mom?
No one knows. The most recent Cochrane Review on this subject -- update in 2007 -- has been withdrawn.