Affiliations: [a] Physiotherapy Department, Midlands Regional Hospital, Tullamore, Co Offaly, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, Ireland
| [b] School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
Corresponding author: Dr Iseult M. Wilson, Senior Lecturer, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen’s University Belfast, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 7BL, Northern Ireland, UK. E-mail: [email protected].
Abstract: BACKGROUND:Pregnancy is the main risk factor for the development of Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) which is known to have detrimental effects on quality of life in approximately 54.3% of women. The recommended treatment for SUI is to increase pelvic floor muscle strength, however, it is not clear why long-term adherence to pelvic floor muscle exercise (PFME) is poor. OBJECTIVES:To understand multiparous women’s experience of incontinence and the prescription of pelvic floor muscle exercise (PFME) in the ante and post-natal period on their first pregnancy, and the differences, if any, that they experienced on subsequent pregnancies. METHODS:Purposive sampling was used to recruit women who had two or more children. The 1 : 1 semi-structured interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim and anonymised. Thematic analysis was undertaken by both researchers, independently, and the codes and themes were agreed by consensus. RESULTS:Women were not aware that PFME could prevent incontinence, and the education provided was not sufficient to enable adherence to a PFME program. PFME were prescribed by health professionals, but there was a lack of detail, and the importance of PFME was not emphasised on first or subsequent pregnancies. On subsequent pregnancies, women were more aware of PFME and incontinence, however, this education came from informal sources, not the health care professionals providing the ante or post-natal care. CONCLUSIONS:Health care professionals should include more information, and better guidance regarding PFMEs. Most of the information about PFMEs came from informal sources, especially on the second and subsequent pregnancies.