I was an expecting first time mom, a physical therapist, athletic, informed, and full of wonder as my body grew this new tiny human. Why didn’t anyone ever mention the pelvic floor to me? Maybe they did, and I just didn’t hear it or understand it.
I had a long and hard labor with my son and overall had many positive things to say about the experience. I was cleared to resume activity and being athletic throughout my pregnancy, I assumed I would just “bounce back”. But I didn’t, and it was hard. Things started feeling like they were “falling out” and I was left feeling confused, alone, and with more questions than ever. Thankfully, I was aware of the resource of pelvic floor physical therapy, and so the journey began.
Pelvic what?! The pelvic floor is a group of muscles in your pelvis that creates a bowl. This deep layer of muscle is called the pelvic diaphragm and these muscles assist with many important functions including:
- Holding up the pelvic organs (uterus, bladder, and rectum)
- Pressure regulation with breathing and core muscle strength and activation
- Bathroom habits such as holding and releasing urine and bowel movements
Some common symptoms that many women experience with pelvic floor dysfunction include:
- Heaviness in the pelvis or vagina/pelvic organ prolapse
- Pelvic floor muscle weakness
- Pelvic floor muscle tightness/spasm
- Pain in hips, lower back, pelvis, or legs
- Belly pooch/abdominal separation/diastasis recti (DRA)
- Pain with intercourse
- Loss of urine/feces (incontinence)
Pelvic floor PT changed my life after struggling with pelvic organ prolapse, pain, and just feeling weak and unstable. With new awareness and information I was able to strengthen my body and return to the activities I once loved. I had a game plan, information, and was ready to take on the world! It has since become my passion to inform, help, and empower women through their journey. Women are at a significantly higher risk of pelvic floor dysfunction than men, and pregnancy and birth can play a large role. Every woman should take the time to prepare during pregnancy and to really heal after birth. Common does NOT mean normal, and these changes do not have to be something we “just live with”. There are ways to prevent, heal, and improve pelvic floor function, and I believe strongly that it begins with information and awareness.
A pelvic floor physical therapist gives women the tools to reconnect with her pelvic floor and core during pregnancy and postpartum. We give women the information they need to listen to their bodies, prevent injury, heal, strengthen, and work toward safely resuming the activities they love. When we address these body changes during pregnancy or shortly after birth, they can often be more quickly rehabilitated, preventing and reversing symptoms, and giving women the tools to be healthy, supple, and strong in their bodies.
It is time we focus on women and their postpartum healing. Pelvic floor physical therapy should be the new normal for women during pregnancy and postpartum periods.
Holly Hernandez, PT, DPT
Owner –Lotus Rehab – Holistic Physical Therapy
Specializing in Women’s Health and Pediatrics