Pelvic Floor in the Postpartum Period
Let me tell you a dirty little secret about pregnancy. It is hell on your pelvic floor. If you aren't sure what your pelvic floor is or why it is oh so very important to your pregnancy and postpartum please watch this video series:
In pregnancy it is important for your pelvic floor to be strong but relaxed. Pregnancy is all about your pelvis opening to accommodate your uterus and eventually the passage of your babies head. Here is a great video that talks about the changes in your pelvis during pregnancy:
What we don't talk about is postpartum pelvic floor health. Lets get real about the postpartum pelvic floor. We can't push a 7lb baby out of our vagina and expect our body to magically bounce back. On the flip side it is NOT okay or "NORMAL" to pee when you sneeze, run, or dance. You most definitely shouldn't have to deal with fecal incontinence. Yet we've been told that this is all part of having a baby. We've talked before, and we'll talk again, about the evidence against pushing, especially early (prior to 0 station) pushing. We will discuss at another time how ACOG recently recommended giving moms up to 4 hours to push their babies out.
This perfect storm of hormones, weight, and trauma leaves our pelvic floor loose, sometimes painful, and in the worst of cases prolapsed. But there are some simple things we can do to help our pelvic floor recover, strengthen, and heal.
First step is pelvic floor support. Every woman postpartum can benefit from pelvic floor support. Whether it is a girdle or a bengkung belly binder (which we have for sale and offer classes and private tutorials). You can start utilizing the support day one after baby is born. (Always speak to your care provider before starting pelvic floor treatments.) Abdominal and pelvic floor postpartum support is important in vaginal and c-section births. Once you're cleared for physical activity you can add pelvic floor exercises. Marianne Ryan is a great Physical Therapy resource. Here is a good basic at home workout you do on your own. If you push for more than 2 hours, if you have a 3rd or 4th degree tear, if you have pain during sex or sitting, or if you have incontinence you should consult a pelvic floor physical therapist. We are fortunate to have an excellent one in central Ohio.
Women are not meant to suffer in silence after their baby is born. We've spoken here and we often speak to our clients about having a postpartum care plan in place so that the family has plenty of opportunity to bond and recover. Healing in the postpartum period goes way beyond the 1st 6 weeks.