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05 July 2019
Patient services

Is Childbirth easier if you’re a Tennis superstar?

Even the most elite athletes who might enjoy more support than most, face similar pressures and have the same fears as the rest of us.  Serena Williams, tennis superstar over the last 20 years, has spoken openly about the challenges of her emergency caesarean delivery in September 2017 where she suffered medical complications and went on to experience post-natal depression.

She feared that she wasn’t a good mother and wasn’t doing enough for her baby, whilst also trying to focus on sustaining and returning to her professional career. Serena has said, that she put so much pressure on herself to be perfect that she felt she was in a very dark place. 

By allowing enough time for her body to heal safely, going through dedicated rehabilitation and seeking appropriate emotional support, Serena managed to return to professional tennis on her own terms and has taken the world stage at Wimbledon this month! 

By prioritizing her health and publicly talking about her struggles, Serena has gained worldwide respect and admiration (even more so than before) amongst the general public and she is certainly someone her daughter can look up to as a very powerful role model.

So what are some of the physical strains?

Pregnancy and childbirth can be the most beautiful and amazing experience, however there can be a number of challenges to overcome whether you have a vaginal, or a caesarean delivery.

Not least of those are the physical challenges.  There are many physiological changes that naturally happen within your body which cause your muscles and ligaments to relax and lengthen, especially those around your stomach and pelvis creating the flexibility to make childbirth easier, but equally this can cause weakness around these areas too.

During labour your muscles and connective tissue need to stretch significantly to allow for a safe delivery of your baby and sometimes these muscles may tear as a result. This can lead to temporary weakness and cause some women to experience urinary symptoms (1 in 3 women who have ever had a baby will experienced some form of urinary leaking (Continence Foundation of Australia).

This may present as:

  • Leaking small amounts of urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing, running or jumping
  • Trouble getting to the toilet in time
  • Very frequent use of the toilet
  • Faecal incontinence and/or difficulty controlling wind
  • A heavy, dragging or lump sensation in the vagina
  • Back or pelvic pain

Even if you have chosen to have a caesarean delivery, you are not protected against experiencing these difficulties, as pregnancy alone can sometimes cause these weaknesses. During a Caesarean operation, the obstetrician makes an incision in the lower abdomen, cutting through all three layers of your abdominal muscles and connective tissue. 

Obviously this can lead to temporary abdominal weakness, low back and or pelvic pain, so it’s important you seek professional help as soon as you experience any of these issues.

In addition to the physical challenges you may experience as a new Mum, there are increasing pressures in today’s society through social media to get back to your ‘pre-baby body’ and to have a ‘perfect family and a perfect life.’ This can be incredibly daunting for new Mums as they are adjusting to the challenges of looking after a little human, or multiple little humans!  It’s essential that Mum’s recovery does NOT take a backseat in terms of family priorities.

Our Women’s Health Physiotherapists are experts in returning new Mums to all the activities you enjoyed pre-pregnancy, and although you may not need to get back to being an international sporting icon, your goals and passions are equally important.  If you’d like some help getting back to your favourite activities at the right time, please get in contact today to find out more.

At The London Clinic we also have Jane Simpson, Clinical Specialist Nurse to help guide you through bladder training and continence  issues as well as Psychosexual Nurse Specialist Lorraine Grover, please see our website for details.


To find out more about more, please contact our friendly team at  020 7616 7651, email them at or visit

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