Bringing a new life into the world is a momentous and transformative event, marked by joy and wonder. However, the process of childbirth can also place considerable strain on a woman's body, particularly on the intricate network of muscles known as the pelvic floor. As the body adjusts to the changes wrought by pregnancy and delivery, it's essential to focus on postpartum recovery and pelvic health.
Who Needs Pelvic Floor Therapy Postpartum?
Pelvic floor therapy postpartum is beneficial for all women who have recently given birth, regardless of the mode of delivery. Pregnancy and childbirth can place significant stress on the pelvic floor muscles and surrounding tissues, leading to various pelvic floor conditions. Whether you delivered vaginally or via cesarean section, pelvic floor therapy can help you recover, regain strength, and address any issues that may arise.
Common Pelvic Floor Conditions You May Experience After Childbirth
After childbirth, many new mothers may encounter various pelvic floor conditions that can impact their comfort and quality of life. These are some of the pelvic floor conditions that you may experience:
Diastasis recti refers to the separation of the abdominal muscles, specifically the rectus abdominis, during pregnancy. It can result in a noticeable bulge or gap in the midline of the abdomen.
Stress urinary incontinence, characterized by the leakage of urine during activities such as coughing, sneezing, or exercising, is a common pelvic floor condition after childbirth. It occurs due to weakened pelvic floor muscles and increased pressure on the bladder.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse
The weight and pressure of the growing uterus during pregnancy can cause pelvic organs, such as the bladder, uterus, or rectum, to descend into the vaginal canal. This condition is known as pelvic organ prolapse.
Perineal Discomfort or Pain
Perineal discomfort or pain is common after childbirth, particularly if you had an episiotomy, tearing, or stitches. The perineum may feel sore, tender, or swollen, affecting your comfort and daily activities.
Benefits of pelvic floor therapy after pregnancy
The transformative aid of pelvic floor therapy during in the postpartum period offers numerous benefits for postpartum women, including:
Recovery and Healing
Through pelvic floor therapy, recovery and healing of the pelvic floor muscles, perineum, and abdominal muscles are enhanced. Therapists can guide you through gentle exercises, scar tissue management techniques, and strategies to improve blood flow and tissue elasticity.
Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation
Postpartum pelvic floor therapy focuses on rehabilitating the pelvic floor muscles, addressing any muscle weakness, tightness, or coordination issues that may have developed during pregnancy and childbirth. Strengthening and retraining the pelvic floor can help restore function and prevent long-term complications.
Diastasis Recti Management
A pelvic floor therapist can guide you in managing diastasis recti, providing exercises and techniques to close the gap between the abdominal muscles. This promotes core strength, stability, and optimal alignment.
Bladder and Bowel Function
Pelvic floor therapy can help improve bladder and bowel function after childbirth, addressing issues such as urinary incontinence, frequency, urgency, constipation, or difficulty emptying the bladder or bowels.
Return to Exercise and Activities
Providing guidance on safely returning to exercise and daily activities postpartum is another way postpartum pelvic floor therapy can help recovery. Therapists can help you gradually reintegrate physical activity, ensuring proper pelvic floor engagement and protection against potential strain or injury.
When do you need to work with a pelvic floor therapist?
It is beneficial to work with a pelvic floor therapist after childbirth if you:
Experience Persistent Pelvic Floor Symptoms
If you continue to experience pelvic floor symptoms such as urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, pelvic organ prolapse, or perineal discomfort several weeks after childbirth, it is essential to seek the expertise of a pelvic floor therapist. They can evaluate your condition and provide appropriate treatment.
Have Diastasis Recti
If you notice a separation or bulging of the abdominal muscles after childbirth, working with a pelvic floor therapist can help you manage and rehabilitate diastasis recti effectively. They can guide you through specific exercises and techniques to promote proper alignment, strengthen the abdominal muscles, and close the gap.
Desire to Optimize Pelvic Floor Recovery
Even if you don't experience any specific pelvic floor symptoms, working with a pelvic floor therapist postpartum can be beneficial for optimizing your overall pelvic floor recovery. They can provide guidance on proper posture, body mechanics, and pelvic floor exercises to support healing, prevent future issues, and promote long-term pelvic health.
Planning to Return to Exercise or High-Impact Activities
If you are planning to resume exercise or engage in high-impact activities after childbirth, it is recommended to work with a pelvic floor therapist. They can assess your pelvic floor function, guide you on safe exercise progression, and help you prevent potential pelvic floor complications or injuries during physical activity.
Need Support and Education
Pelvic floor therapy provides valuable support and education for postpartum women. Therapists can address any concerns or questions you may have about your pelvic floor health, provide guidance on postpartum self-care, and offer emotional support during this transitional period.
If you experience persistent pelvic floor symptoms, have diastasis recti, desire to optimize pelvic floor recovery, plan to return to exercise or high-impact activities, or simply need support and education, we recommend emphasizing pelvic floor therapy in your daily life. A pelvic floor therapist can assess your condition, develop a personalized treatment plan, guide you through appropriate exercises, and empower you with the knowledge and tools to restore and maintain optimal pelvic floor health after childbirth.