Citation Grant A & Currie S (2020) Qualitative exploration of the acceptability of a postnatal pelvic floor muscle training intervention to prevent urinary incontinence. BMC Women's Health, 20 (1), Art. No.: 9. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12905-019-0878-z
Childbirth is a major risk factor for urinary incontinence (UI). As a result, pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) is commonly recommended during and after pregnancy to prevent the onset of UI. PFMT is often classed as a physical activity (PA) behaviour, hence PA guidelines for postnatal women encourage PFMT alongside aerobic activities. However, postnatal lifestyle interventions tend to overlook PFMT which can be detrimental to women’s health and future health risks, including urinary incontinence. This study aimed to explore perceptions and acceptability of a postnatal physical activity and PFMT intervention with postnatal women in Scotland.
We recruited women who had given birth within the last 5 years by displaying posters in health centres and community centres in Stirling and through Facebook. Data was gathered via online and face-to-face focus groups, that were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Analytic themes were initially organised under related concepts derived from the topic guide and thematic analysis conducted. Subsequent analysis was by the Framework technique.
A total of seven online and face-to-face focus group discussions with 31 women identified there was a clear intention behaviour gap for engagement in PA, with both psychological and logistical barriers identified such as motivation and childcare. This was distinct from PFMT where there was a feeling of helplessness around not knowing how to perform a correct PFMT contraction subsequently resulting in women not adhering to PFMT guidance. Women felt there was no accessible PFMT advice available through the NHS. Some participants had received PFMT advice after childbirth and spoke of the Squeezee app being useful in adhering to a PFMT regimen but they did require additional teaching on how to do correct contractions. There was need for clarity and practical support for PFMT in the postnatal period with an approved intervention incorporating an accessible app being suggested by participants.
Women would like to be trained on postnatal PFMT but face barriers to accessing adequate information and education on how to do a PFMT contraction. An intervention combining PFMT training and an app would be the most useful for their needs and circumstances.