Pelvic Floor Therapy Postpartum
The pelvic floor muscles support the growing baby during pregnancy, but during childbirth, the muscles relax and stretch to allow the baby to be born. Unfortunately, vaginal birth causes trauma to the pelvic floor muscles and may result in dysfunction. Sometimes, the symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction may show up immediately, and sometimes they show in a woman's later years.
Many people shy away from talking about pelvic floor dysfunction. But it is essential to get prompt treatment. This article explores pelvic floor therapy postpartum, including when to start and signs that you need treatment at Concept of Movement Physiotherapy.
What Is Pelvic Floor Therapy Postpartum?
Pelvic floor therapy postpartum is specialized care for women after birth. This form of physiotherapy helps the pelvic floor muscles recover and gain strength after undergoing the stress of labor and childbirth. Women need to get pelvic floor therapy postpartum to prevent and treat pelvic floor dysfunction. Without prompt treatment, pelvic floor dysfunction can cause unpleasant symptoms.
When Should You Start Pelvic Floor Therapy Postpartum?
It is not advisable to start pelvic floor therapy postpartum immediately after birth. Instead, allow your body to heal for about six weeks after birth. At this time, the pelvic floor muscles would have regained enough strength for you to start therapy.
However, suppose you are experiencing pain in your pelvic area after birth. In that case, you must consult your physiotherapist in Barrie, ON, for an examination. Your physiotherapist can determine the best course of treatment that suits you.
What Are The Signs That You Need Pelvic Floor Therapy Postpartum?
Signs that you need pelvic floor therapy postpartum include pain during sex, incontinence, pelvic pain, and chronic constipation. If you notice these symptoms, visiting your physiotherapist in Barrie, ON, is essential.
Incontinence is the inability to control bowel or bladder movement. This symptom is often present with a frequent urge to defecate or urinate. Fecal or urinary incontinence is a sign of weak pelvic floor muscles. Therefore, getting physiotherapy in Barrie, ON as soon as possible is essential.
Pain during sex
Dyspareunia refers to pain or discomfort during sex. Pelvic floor muscle weakness or tightness is a primary cause of pain during sex, especially after childbirth.
Pain in the pelvic region is another sign of pelvic floor dysfunction. For example, suppose you experience pain in your lower abdomen or pelvis or pain when urinating or defecating. In that case, you may have pelvic floor dysfunction.
Pelvic organ prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse is when one or more pelvic organs (bladder, bowel, or uterus) descend and bulge into the vagina. The pelvic floor muscles hold the pelvic organs in place. Therefore, when the organs prolapse, it is a sign of weak pelvic floor muscles.
Difficulty passing stool can also result from pelvic floor dysfunction. When the pelvic floor muscles are too tight and unable to relax, it causes chronic constipation, making it difficult to pass stool.
Lower back pain
The pelvis provides support for the lower back. However, when the pelvic floor muscles are dysfunctional, the lower back muscles do not get enough support, resulting in pain.
Diastasis recti are the separation of the rectus abdominis muscles along the belly's center. If you carry multiple or large babies or have a small stature, you are at a higher risk of diastasis. Besides a postpartum stomach pooch, diastasis recti can contribute to lower back pain, urine leaks, and constipation.
You must visit your physiotherapist if you experience any of the symptoms below postpartum. Your physiotherapist can diagnose the problem and create a customized treatment plan to relieve your symptoms and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
What Happens During Pelvic Floor Therapy Postpartum?
Pelvic floor therapy postpartum consists of several treatment techniques to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Before prescribing treatment, your physiotherapist in Barrie will examine your symptoms and perform an external and internal exam. After diagnosing the cause and symptoms, your physiotherapist will recommend a suitable treatment plan.
A pelvic floor therapy postpartum treatment plan may include the following;
Manual therapy is a hands-on treatment that the physiotherapist can use to mobilize and manipulate the pelvic floor muscles. Your physiotherapist will gently massage the tissue inside your vagina to stretch the area and release trigger points - trigger points are small, tight muscle fibers that cause pain.
Although massage therapy may feel uncomfortable, your physiotherapist will be very gentle and communicate with you every step of the way.
Your physiotherapist will recommend specific exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. You will also learn how to identify various muscles and carry out the exercises that target these muscles safely at home. Your physiotherapist may also teach you relaxation techniques, including yoga poses and breathing exercises that can help improve your posture and relieve pain.
Furthermore, depending on your condition, your physiotherapist may recommend kegel exercises. You will also learn how to do the exercises safely and correctly. Kegel exercises involve contracting and relaxing pelvic floor muscles to improve strength and function.
Biofeedback requires a device that measures and gives you feedback on the strength of your pelvic floor muscles. This treatment method is often used alongside pelvic floor exercises. When you contract and relax your pelvic floor muscles, the device displays information about muscle activity. With this treatment method, you can use the correct muscles, strengthening them and decreasing pain.
Electrical stimulation strengthens the pelvic floor muscles using light electrical currents. Your physiotherapist will insert a vaginal probe into your body to deliver the electrical impulses. Consequently, the current stimulates and contracts the muscles, improving strength and function.
What Happens If You Don't Get Pelvic Floor Therapy Postpartum?
Without proper treatment postpartum, you may develop pelvic floor dysfunction. Pelvic floor dysfunction presents unpleasant symptoms that can contribute to chronic pelvic pain syndrome and impact the quality of your life.
You can visit your physiotherapist in Barrie, ON, for an examination and a proper treatment plan to suit your needs.
Can You Get Pelvic Floor Therapy Postpartum If You Had A C-Section?
Yes, pelvic floor therapy postpartum is also ideal for C-section moms. Although C-section does not add the same degree of trauma to the pelvic floor muscles as vaginal birth, the incisions can cause scar tissue formation. This scar tissue can lead to pelvic pain and discomfort. Your will examine your symptoms and condition to create a customized treatment plan to improve your pelvic health.
What Are The Best Pelvic Floor Therapy Postpartum Exercises?
Your physiotherapist will recommend the best exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. These exercises may include;
The diaphragm is a muscle that sits at the base of the chest and controls breathing. The pelvic floor and the diaphragm mirror each other's motions. So, diaphragmatic breathing helps you contract and relax your pelvic floor muscles rhythmically.
How to do diaphragmatic breathing
- Lie face up on the floor.
- Relax your shoulders and place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly.
- Breathe through your nose for a count of 5 while filling your ribs with air.
- Ensure your chest is relatively still.
- Purse your lips and exhale slowly for a count of 5.
Sit to stand
Sit to stand is a squat variation that builds your pelvic floor muscles, quads, glutes, and core. You will need a chair for this exercise.
How to do sit to stand
- Stand in front of a chair or couch.
- Inhale and slowly lower yourself to sit in the chair.
- Press your heels into the ground.
- Exhale as you stand back up.
- Repeat the exercise for 2 sets of 10 reps each.
The clamshell exercise strengthens your core and glutes, which must have weakened during pregnancy. The exercise also improves your hip's range of motion.
How to do clamshell
Lie on one side and bend your legs at a 45-degree angle. Ensure you stack your feet, ankles, knees, and hips on one another.
- Rest your forearm.
- Lift your upper knee while engaging your core and glutes. Ensure you keep your feet together and avoid rocking or shifting your hips or pelvis.
- Lower your top knee.
- Repeat the exercise. Do 10 reps on each side.
Kegel is a contraction of the pelvic floor muscles. This exercise helps to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and restore the abdominal wall. You should ask your physiotherapist if you can try kegels.
How to do kegels
- Contract the pelvic floor while keeping your pelvis still. Your lower belly should feel taut as you breathe.
- Think about your pelvic floor muscles lifting up toward your head.
- Hold for 5 seconds.
- Relax completely and feel your pelvic floor muscles drop as if you are urinating.
- Do two sets of 10 reps twice a day.
Pelvic floor therapy postpartum is ideal for postpartum recovery and preventing and treating pelvic floor dysfunction. Starting your treatment as soon as 6 weeks after birth is essential. Otherwise, there is an increased risk of developing chronic pelvic pain syndrome. Whether you had a vaginal birth or C-section, the Concept of Movement Physiotherapy is ready to guide you through your recovery journey.