New or Soon-to-Be Moms, Have You Heard of Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?

This post was written by Pia Leone, a PT Clinical Specialist at Methodist Hospital

Pregnancy and delivery of a child is a wonderful and exciting time in a woman’s life, but also one that brings many changes in almost all the systems of the body, especially the musculoskeletal system.  The growing uterus as well as hormonal changes that occur naturally in the body during pregnancy can put a woman at an increased risk of injury.  These changes begin early in pregnancy, and can lead to pain and difficulty with daily tasks before a woman even begins to show.

Some conditions that may occur during pregnancy include:

  • Low back and/or pelvic pain
  • Pubic pain
  • Coccyx (tailbone) pain
  • Mid/upper back pain
  • Hand/wrist pain
  • Urinary incontinence (leakage of urine)
  • Fecal incontinence (leakage of stool)

Some conditions that may occur following delivery include:

  • Urinary incontinence
  • Urinary frequency or urgency
  • Fecal incontinence
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Pain with sexual activity
  • Scar pain (may be lower abdominal from a c-section or near the vaginal opening from a vaginal delivery)
  • Low back pain or pelvic pain
  • Diastasis Recti (separation of the abdominal muscles)

Luckily, these conditions can all be treated by a pelvic floor physical therapist.  Of course, it is important to discuss these issues with your OB/GYN first, and obtain a prescription for pelvic floor physical therapy.  During an evaluation therapists make sure patients understand the role of a pelvic floor physical therapist as well as the importance of the muscles of the pelvic floor during pregnancy and following delivery.
Physical therapist working with patient

The functions of the pelvic floor include:

  • To provide postural support
  • To support the pelvic organs (bladder, bowels, and uterus)
  • To help control the bladder and bowels
  • To contribute to sexual function

Treatment sessions vary based on the patient’s complaints and goals which are reviewed during the initial visit.  Some treatments may include:

  • Strengthening exercises for the pelvic floor, leg, back or abdominal muscles
  • Stretching or relaxation exercises for shortened or painful muscles
  • Manual techniques for joint mobility
  • Scar massage
  • Coordination exercises
  • Behavioral modifications and patient education
  • Biofeedback for strengthening or relaxing muscles
  • Modalities such as heat, ice, or electrical stimulation

Today it is known how important staying active is during pregnancy, not only for the health of the mother, but also for the baby.  Staying active during pregnancy can help reduce length of labor, reduce recovery time following delivery, and help your baby be more fit.  Recovery following delivery is also important as many women have to return to full time jobs or need to take care of other children. Jefferson physical therapists work with each patient on an individual basis to help them reach their goals.

So, if you are pregnant, or a new mom, and you find yourself avoiding activities due to pain, leaking of urine or stool, or difficulty returning to your regular activities, it’s time to talk to your doctor about your symptoms. Pelvic floor physical therapy may be the key to get you back to what you love to do!

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