Wed 29, May 2019 , Bridge Magazine
For more than 20 years, Annette Beauchamp has worked as a physiotherapist specialising in women’s and children’s health, with a focus on continence and pelvic rehabilitation.
Why did you choose to dedicate your career to women’s incontinence pelvic health?
I love working with women and watching them succeed with their bodies and lives. Women seem to be more attentive, appreciative and responsive to help in this area of pelvic health. It is so rewarding!
I came from North Queensland and pursued nursing when I left school, loving its challenges and rewards. I worked predominantly with women at the hospital where I trained. When I moved to Melbourne my horizons and education possibilities opened up with the emergence in women’s and pelvic health needs and post graduate studies.
An increase in knowledge, research and education became available at just the right time for me. I was lucky to be able to pursue the field I was already passionate about.
I joined the public education and physiotherapy committees at the Continence Foundation of Australia. It was an exciting time, developing public education resources and establishing post-graduate education for physiotherapists with interests in continence and pelvic health.
What are the most common issues clients come to you for assistance with?
Most women who come to me for assistance may not necessarily identify as having a bowel or bladder problems, but more general pelvic pain and discomfort related to pregnancy or pain during intimacy. Others experience pelvic muscle, lumbar and spine discomfort, stress incontinence and prolapse.
I then work to give patients the tools to overcome their problems with management strategies for their specific problems and ensure they get as much as possible from life.
What are the key steps to helping women lead healthy, continent lives?
• Deal with problems as they arise! The earlier you seek help, the fewer the problems and the sooner you will improve.
• Have a pelvic assessment with a physiotherapist following birth to ensure you learn the correct technique in pelvic floor contractions, and ask your physio to set an exercise program for you. Continence and Women’s Health Physios are experts in this.
• See a physiotherapist before considering pelvic surgery and after it if you proceed.
• AVOID CONSTIPATION! Drink well, eat lots of lovely fresh fruit, vegetables, salad and other fibre. And plan for a daily bowel action.
• Take care with your exercise choices if you have a pelvic problem. Exercise is essential for health; cardiac, bone, muscle and mental health. But be mindful of the impact of your chosen exercises on your pelvic floor.
What do you say to women who know they experience continence issues but put their experiences down to “just part of being a woman”?
Pelvic problems are common, but absolutely not normal. There is almost always a conservative approach that will help when supervised by an expert: therapy, exercise and strategies can be helpful to address your specific continence issues.
What is the most important thing you tell your clients?
Pelvic health, in fact all health, is about the whole person. The correct treatment for one particular issue or problem is vital and can have a massive impact on a person’s overall health and wellbeing.
Annette began her career as registered nurse, working in gynaecology, general medicine, surgery and aged care before becoming a physiotherapist. She graduated physiotherapy at La Trobe University in 1994, worked in public hospitals in general physiotherapy with women and children, then later in continence and pelvic health clinics. Annette completed post-graduate studies in continence and pelvic rehabilitation. She is a member of the Australian Physiotherapy Association, Continence and Women’s Health Special Interest Group, Continence Foundation of Australia, Australasian Menopause Society and Rheumatology Health Professionals Association. She practices physiotherapy and pilates in Middle Park, Melbourne