A lot of new grads would hear “women’s health” and immediately think pelvic floors and bladders and that’s fair enough, they are definitely a component of what I talk about all week! However, working in women’s health is so much more than that!
My day to day job is to help women maintain health and fitness during pregnancy and to safely return to health and fitness activities postpartum (after baby). The human body undergoes a LOT of changes during pregnancy and so being able to help these women achieve a strong return to gym/sport/running etc is a great feeling! It requires experience, knowledge, and some further training to work in the area of women’s health and there are a lot of different pathways to get there.
Some examples of the types of clients I treat include:
- Pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy
- Diastasis recti rehabilitation
- Facilitating exercise through pregnancy – usually, I do this in a team with their coach and/or personal trainer
- Pelvic pain (including pain arising from conditions like endometriosis, vaginismus) and this might be in conjunction with their Gynae or an internal pelvic floor physio
- Return to sport/exercise postpartum << the major one!
At university, the most I learned about women’s health was the names of the pelvic floor muscles and that diastasis recti were a thing – that’s pretty much it! Everything I know now is the result of further reading and engaging in courses or shadowing and mentoring with other physiotherapists who work in my field during my new grad years!
There are a lot of different pathways that allow you to become more of an expert in any field you might choose to go for! For women’s health specifically:
- The Titling and Specialist pathway – through the APA
- Postgraduate degrees
- Internal pelvic floor physio courses or degrees
- Short courses – for pregnancy back pain, pelvic floor dysfunction, lactating breast, pelvic girdle pain, you name it!
- Shadowing experienced physiotherapists
- Mentoring by experienced physiotherapists
- Great online resources/podcasts/textbooks/physiotherapists to follow on socials, etc!
The pathway I took was to undertake short courses (including pelvic floor dysfunction, pregnancy, and pain, lactating breast) and I worked alongside experienced physiotherapists to gain knowledge and progress into the area of women’s health. I also undertook a lot of self-directed study via textbooks (including Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Physiotherapy), following and engaging with the Women’s health physio groups on facebook and reading through case studies and links to great content, following physio’s/osteo’s/trainers on social media and talking with other physiotherapists who have training in women’s health. I’m also currently undertaking a postpartum coaching course (slowly!) because I just love learning! There’s lots of info out there and you build your knowledge base over time.
My top 3 tips if you want to get into women’s health?
- Chat with a physiotherapist who already work in the area and shadow them in the clinic so you can see what they do and who they work with!
- Engage with content but be picky – on socials follow reputable physiotherapists who have additional training in women’s health, look at the latest research and ask questions! Lots of them!
- Don’t stress too much about extra uni study/the Titling/specialist pathways initially – if that’s something you want to do later down the line that’s great but there are plenty of short courses you can do to upskill and get started on the women’s health journey before going down that path.