Bringing a new baby into the world is often a time that is filled with excitement and joy. As you get settled in with your child and adjust to your growing household, however, you might also be dealing with some physical issues related to pregnancy and birth. It is all too easy to ignore problems like stress, incontinence, and pelvic pain or pass them off as a normal part of the process, but many women don’t realize that there is no need to suffer. An array of pregnancy and childbirth-related issues can be corrected with pelvic floor therapy after birth.
Pelvic floor therapy is a type of physical therapy aimed at strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor. It can help to treat pelvic floor muscle weakness or tightness and the problems these conditions can cause. By returning the pelvic floor muscles to their normal strength and tone, your pelvic organs will gain sufficient support and you can enjoy normal sexual function, urination, and bowel movements.
Here is a look at some of the top reasons all new mothers should consider pelvic floor therapy.
It Can Address a Wide Range of Issues
Your body goes through a lot when you are pregnant and during childbirth, even if you ultimately get a C-section. Pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence are some of the most common negative effects of childbirth, with vaginal delivery in particular linked to a higher chance of postpartum urinary issues and incontinence of flatulence and stool.
Pelvic muscles and tissues often weaken during pregnancy and are placed under considerable strain during childbirth. For vaginal deliveries, there is also the risk of perineal injury such as episiotomies and tears. Some women may even experience nerve damage that affects their pelvic organ support.
Postpartum pelvic floor issues are incredibly common, with many women experiencing severe pelvic floor muscle injuries following a normal pregnancy and delivery as well as urinary incontinence. All of these issues can be addressed with pelvic floor physical therapy after birth.
You Could Experience Ongoing Pain
Some women may experience pain for months and possibly even years after childbirth. This might include pain in the groin, vagina, tailbone, or at the site of an episiotomy, tear, or C-section scar. Pelvic pain can make it unpleasant to sit, walk, or stand, while vulvar pain can make it difficult to tolerate tight clothing and underwear. It is also worth noting that pelvic organ prolapse might not occur until several years after childbirth.
Therefore, it is a good idea to seek pelvic floor therapy after birth not only to treat any current unpleasant effects you are experiencing but as a preventive means of avoiding serious problems in the future.
It Can Help You Be a Better Mother
Although you may struggle to find time away from your new baby to attend therapy sessions, taking care of yourself is one of the best things you can do for your baby. Freeing yourself from the distraction and discomfort of postpartum pain, incontinence and other issues will allow you to focus on your child and be more present with them.
Signs You May Need Pelvic Floor Therapy
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms after giving birth, get in touch with your gynecologist for help determining whether pelvic floor physical therapy could help.
- Pain in your perineum, which is the area of skin found between the vagina and the anus
- Urinary or bowel incontinence
- Pain or numbness in your pelvis, hips, spine, vulva, neck, tailbone, shoulders, legs, or arms
- Pelvic pressure
- Trouble releasing bowel movements
- Painful urination
- Urinary or bowel incontinence
- Chronic constipation
- Trouble walking or carrying out your normal activities
- Pain during sex
- Tight or weak muscles
- Difficulty inserting tampons
- Difficulty getting into or out of bed, chairs, or cars
What Is Involved in Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?
Your pelvic floor physical therapist will create a customized treatment plan designed to address the specific issues you are facing. At your initial visit, you will discuss your symptoms with your therapist, and they will carry out external and internal exams to assess your condition.
Although treatment plans vary, your plan might include the following components.
Your therapist will teach you how to perform exercises that can strengthen weak muscles or relax any tight or spastic muscles. They will help you to increase your core strength and function and instruct you on movements that you can carry out at home.
Your therapist may also massage your pelvis, thighs, buttocks, or the tissue in your vagina in order to gently stretch it and release any trigger points that could be causing you pain.
Your therapist might choose to use hot and cold therapies or electrical stimulation to address your symptoms. They will also suggest other treatments, such as relaxation techniques, acupuncture or yoga, that could help you feel better.