Pregnancy and giving birth change women’s bodies in many ways, but it is not always obvious which effects will improve with time and which need to be addressed by professionals. Many women believe that problems like pelvic pain, leakage, or other issues are simply part of giving birth and do not mention them to their doctor. This is unfortunate because these are all issues that can often be solved with pelvic floor therapy.
What Is The Pelvic Floor?
The pelvic floor can be thought of as being like a hammock that holds several important elements of the body in place.
The pelvic floor is responsible for the following key areas:
The pelvic floor has collections of connective tissues, ligaments, bones, and muscles that hold everything in place structurally, such as when your body supports a baby growing inside of it.
This area encompasses arousal, lubrication, penetration, pain syndromes, nerve impingement, and vulvar care.
The pelvic floor is responsible for the circular muscles that control gas and help to hold in waste.
Lymphatics are responsible for pumping and regulating the flow of fluids throughout the entire body.
The pelvic floor is extremely important to women’s health. In fact, in some countries, it is officially recognized as a medically necessary aspect of postpartum healing and women are routinely given advice and instructions on strengthening their pelvic floor after giving birth.
What Is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?
Pelvic floor physical therapy is a type of treatment aimed at addressing weakness, pain, and dysfunction in the pelvic floor muscles. It involves performing techniques and movements that have proven effective in addressing pelvic floor dysfunction.
Who Needs Postpartum Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?
Many first-time moms do not realize which aspects of their postpartum experience are normal and which ones require additional attention. However, even typical postpartum symptoms can be improved by physical therapy. These include pelvic and tailbone pain, bowel and urinary incontinence, leakage of urine when coughing, sneezing or laughing that does not improve, and diastasis recti, or the separation of abdominal muscles.
Another problem that can be helped by postpartum pelvic floor physical therapy is pain during intercourse. Because many women wait to have sex until after getting the go-ahead from their doctor at their six-week or eight-week postpartum checkup, they will not know if they are experiencing pain during intercourse until after their appointment. Many are unlikely to follow up if things don’t improve.
Postpartum sex can vary significantly from person to person, although most women report experiencing some sort of sexual problem within their first three months after giving birth. For some, it will improve as they try again and continue to heal, but for others, it may not get better.
Some of the problems in a vaginal birth that can make penetration painful include tears and episiotomies that create tightness due to scar tissue. Scars from C-sections can also feel uncomfortable and tight. A few sessions of pelvic floor therapy can help correct these issues.
Do Women Who Have Had C-Sections Need Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?
It is important to keep in mind that a C-section is a type of abdominal surgery, and like all surgeries, it requires adequate rehabilitation to get back to normal. Because the doctor separates the rectus abdominis muscle to deliver the baby, there is a risk of scar tissue immobility that can lead to feelings of tension near the incision as the body heals and normal activities like lifting and squatting are resumed. A pelvic floor physical therapist can teach women the proper ways to move and lift items to ease strain and promote healing.
How Long Does Pelvic Floor Treatment Take?
The length of time needed for a successful course of pelvic floor physical therapy varies depending on the woman, her age, and the condition being addressed. However, for many women, problems like urinary incontinence and diastasis recti can be addressed with seven to eight visits, while tailbone or pelvic pain may take longer to correct.
What Happens If You Don’t Treat Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?
Getting pelvic floor therapy may be the last thing on your mind after having a baby. Life is hectic enough in those early days, and the thought of fitting sessions in around sleep schedules and feeding a baby while juggling going back to work and childcare can be daunting.
However, it is worth taking the time for self-care to address the issue as soon as possible. Scar tissue can build up over time and pull or restrict normal organ movement within the body, causing adhesions to the bladder or bowel that can affect your ability to go to the bathroom normally.
Get in Touch With Raleigh Gynecology & Wellness
If you are experiencing any postpartum issues or symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, reach out to Raleigh Gynecology & Wellness today. Our women’s healthcare professionals can provide a diagnosis and discuss treatment options to help you regain normal functioning and restore your pelvic floor.