e039 – The Vagina Coach with Kim Vopni
Kim Vopni is a mom of two, a personal trainer and owner of Bellies, Inc and The Vagina Coach. She is the author of Prepare To Push, Your Pelvic Floor The Inside Story and Pregnancy Fitness published by Human Kinetics. She is also a speaker and a women's health educator who passionately talks the taboo. She has a busy online coaching practice and also offers DIY pelvic floor fitness programs for women in pregnancy and beyond.
Growing up terrified of childbirth, Kim’s relationship with her mother gave her another woman’s experience with motherhood. After not wanting children most of her life, and choosing to focus on herself and her journey with physical fitness and well being. Following her journey and watching her sister grow into motherhood, Kim decided to have a child and being curious, leaned into the experience and used a pelvic floor trainer Epi-No, recommenced by her midwives (unfortunately no longer available in Canada). Following the success of her birth and loving the experience, she became a distributor for the product. After being laid off from her job, she leaned into selling this product and using her network of midwives, she learned more about pelvic floor therapist, something she had heard of and learned more about. Tying her connections to physical health and wellbeing prior to kids, she became the Vagina Coach.
Even though Kim “talks the taboo” the topics she shares and discusses are things people with vaginas deal with regularly. Historically its a topic of shame and embarrassment, and Kim’s goals are to destigmatize and make our vagina health less clinical and more relatable. The over-medicalization of childbirth has led women into fear-based reactions and interventions, rather than trusting the process of childbirth, when our bodies have been designed to go through this. But with the rise of social media, and being able to bring awareness to the options available. When given the information, women are able to make the best choice for their bodies.
We talk so openly as mothers about what is going on with our children, but we will have so much shame and embarrassment when trying to talk about what’s happening to us. From incontinence to bowel issues and pain, it is important to share the issues we face to ease the anxiety and shame, and to heal. Kim works with women in all stages of motherhood, from postpartum to menopause, she works with anyone who has female anatomy. She works with people in prevention or for correction of issues. Kim wants people to take control regardless of their symptoms or lack thereof.
The most common issue women face post-childbirth is leaking when they laugh stress urinary incontinence, from exerting a force that the muscles don’t have the strength to manage. Urge incontinence is also the sudden urge to use the bathroom without warning. The second would be prolapse. Over 50% of women have some degree of prolapse. Back pain is also another issue, that is very common with pelvic floor weakness. Often times a chiropractor for the pain, yet it is closely tied to the pelvis. Diastasis Recti is another closely tied symptom of pelvic floor challenges. A lot of women cope with these issues and often don’t realize how closely tied they are to pelvic floor health. We see dentists for preventative care, why can’t we normalize seeing the dentist? Having these conversations early, and often would do wonders for empowerment, movement, birth and general wellness. When we don’t know these things are associated you can work on healing them.
When we are aware of what the issues are and how to manage them, we are in a position of power and can control the things we do to counter the symptoms. Therapy can help more than a surgical intervention because we are learning different strategies to prevent problems and optimize the outcomes. When we break a leg we go to physiotherapy after surgery to heal the muscle and body after a traumatic injury for rehab. After childbirth, mothers are sent home. There is a lack of any internal assessment especially after the 6-week checkup. Even if you work with a midwife, where you receive more care, there is a lack of focus on the mother when the baby is the main topic. Many cultures practice different traditions in caring for the mother after she’s delivered a baby through mother-roasting, encouraging care and babying the mother while she recovers and bonds with her baby. The first 40 days after childbirth set up a mother for the following 40 years. When she is in her power, knowledgeable and cared for, she can truly be birthed into the mother she was meant to be. When we lack this care from our village, we lose that time to heal. The act of birth is a process of opening our bodies. We need to nourish the closure of our bodies. Healing movements and foods that restore the nutrients and strength needed when growing our babes. If we start to shift the focus away from “getting the body back” and towards healing the body, we can help so many mothers build up the foundation needed to survive motherhood.
Sabrina’s midwife shared with her the perspective that stuck with her after childbirth. “You have a wound inside of your body the size of that baby. If you had a wound that size externally, would you be going to the gym? No, you would be resting and applying medicine and rehab. You would be caring for your body and nurturing the healing.” Exercise and movement are important, but it is not the time to deprive the body. Nurse the wound. We need to pay attention to this restoration period. When you take 9 months to heal the 9 months of growth and change, you can heal the body and reconnect and retrain the core synergy you lost from the massive changes your body has undergone.
Kim has a video on Posture and The Core Breath that is the first place to start when you begin training your pelvic floor. It builds your connection from the diaphragm to the pelvis and your core. See a pelvic floor physiotherapist in your community, because it is important to address the issues you have personally. Your health is completely individual, and a specialist can help set you on the right course. When you understand what your pelvic floor condition is, you can work on the method of training that would work for you. Finally, moving in varied ways and moving with intention and awareness of your pelvic floor. Kegels are something we are told to do almost passively, but it is important to be aware of your position and your process and to do it properly to avoid further trauma.
YouTube: Kim Vopni - The Vagina Coach
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