What to Know About the Pelvic Floor and Exercises Postpartum
By Ann Duffy at Duffy & Bracken Physical Therapy
All women deserve to get their bodies back after having a baby, no matter who you are!
Having a baby is a miraculous thing, with wonderful and amazing changes going on in your body.
Your baby is growing and thriving within. Meanwhile, on the outside you watch your belly grow into a beautiful vessel. The delivery is another miraculous and incredulous moment when your body changes once again to give birth.
We compare this process to a marathon. On the big day, your body and the baby are ready to get the job done. At the end of the delivery, you feel like you’ve completed a marathon and your body has some recovery to do.
Why Pelvic Floor Exercises Matter After Birth
All women deserve to get their bodies back into their pre-prenatal shape. Women need to be strong so that they can enjoy the next phase in life without pain, leaking, prolapse, or abdominal and pelvic floor weakness.
All of these issues could put your core into permanent retirement, causing all sorts of future problems. The pelvic floor is a key core muscle necessary in athletics and in preventing musculoskeletal injuries. As such, pelvic floor exercises for women like a kegel workout and others are a key way to avoid discomfort, stay in shape, and maintain core strength.
Terms to Know for Your Pelvic Floor Exercise Routine
Here are some terms that were probably not part of your vocab before but are important after childbirth.
The “pelvic floor” is a part of the core. It is necessary for improving power in athletics, posture, and alignment. It is also essential in preventing musculoskeletal injuries. It controls the bowel and bladder, keeps our organs up, and is our orgasm muscle. A regiment of pelvic exercises postpartum can ensure you maintain its function and prevent any uncomfortable accidents.
A soothing bath to calm the fire below after childbirth.
The tear below the vagina. In childbirth, it DOESN’T necessarily stretch that much!
An over the counter cream that you can have for the baby. However, you may also want it, too, to soothe and help heal your scar.
Diastasis recti is the split in your belly that often occurs after giving birth. These abdominal muscles are key in giving you a core and pulling your belly back in. Core is key in protecting you from most injuries and musculoskeletal pain.
Prolapsed Organ is what can happen if you don’t strengthen your pelvic floor with the right exercises. What can result is a slight prolapse of your bladder, cervix, or rectum. Luckily, this is reversible. There can be a little prolapse after childbirth that is reversible.
Incontinence or Urgency
Urinary stress incontinence or fecal urgency can occur if your pelvic floor isn’t working. When it isn’t communicating with your bladder and rectum, this is the result. Again, this is a situation that can be remedied by pelvic floor exercises after birth.
This refers to pain around your shoulder blades from all that leaning over and poor posture with no core to help.
Get Help With Pelvic Floor Exercises and Strengthening
Have you heard; all French women get pelvic PT after childbirth and are famous for their beauty and health? Do what the French are doing!
All women deserve their bodies back! After all, only women can run this marathon. You shouldn’t suffer the consequences from it forever. Physical therapists can help you recover and prevent future issues.
The pelvic floor is a key core muscle necessary for improving power in athletics, posture and alignment and in preventing musculoskeletal injuries. It controls the bowel and bladder, keeps our organs up and is our orgasm muscle.
What’s Involved in a PT Evaluation of Your Pelvic Floor
A physical therapist evaluation consists of an internal and external exam of the body/pelvis. The evaluation will determine whether the pelvic floor muscles are too tight and tense with an inability to relax or are not working well enough with an inability to contract/fire.
The evaluation will also uncover how posture and connected joints such as the hips and back contribute to the pelvic floor dysfunction. Exercises, such as diaphragmatic breathing, Kegels, and core exercises, will be taught to help activate the pelvic floor muscles correctly.
Soft tissue techniques performed by the therapist and biofeedback using electrical stimulation will be provided to help relax the appropriate pelvic floor muscles. Each patient will be given a specialized home program tailored to their body’s needs to help regain their function and decrease their pain.
Find a PT and Start Your Recovery Today
No matter when you had your baby, you should get your pelvic floor, abs, and alignment checked out. You can come see a pelvic PT in your last trimester of childbirth to prepare and learn about the best pelvic floor exercises for women like yourself. You can also seek out a PT for treatment as early as 6 weeks after childbirth or wherever you are now in life to get help with rehab and prevention.
Using the BetterPT website, you can search for a women’s health physical therapy clinic near you. You don’t even need a doctor’s referral to book your appointment, thanks to direct access for physical therapy. It’s never the wrong time to learn about pelvic floor exercises and how to maintain strength while preventing any future discomfort.
Duffy & Bracken Physical Therapy, a Division of Maiden Lane Medical PC is a multidisciplinary healthcare provider focusing on women’s health.
Ann Duffy, M.A., P.T., received her Bachelor’s degree in Physical Therapy from Ithaca College. She has been a physical therapist for 32 years. In 1995 she decided to become a Women’s Health specialist to treat incontinence and pelvic pain becoming one of NYC’s first pelvic floor physical therapists and remains one of the few specialists in this area. This work combines her skills in manual therapy and exercise techniques with biofeedback and behavioral re-education and has been highly successful in helping patients overcome incontinence and pelvic pain.