Postpartum Healing and Pelvic Floor Therapy

Pelvic Health

Woman holding a newborn baby and trying to comfort him

Every woman — and I mean every woman — who gives birth should see a pelvic floor physical therapist at some point after delivery. There are so many gaps in maternal healing and care postpartum. Instead of this being the norm, from my vantage point, it seems that the norm is sometime between 4 and 12 months postpartum, the woman asks herself the question, “Is this normal?” She may continue to ask herself that unanswered question for many years,. Or she may seek counsel in the form of a close friend. Or she may be one of the few who actually consults with her primary care physician or OB-GYN. 

The “is this normal” question can pertain to a myriad of changes that have occurred since getting pregnant and delivering said baby. Things like: pelvic pressure, pain with sex, pain at other times, urinary incontinence or leakage, fecal incontinence or leakage, abdominal separation and/or core weakness, low back or sacral pain, coccyx pain, amongst other things. 

Once she establishes that this is in fact not normal, or at least “not normal for me,” the goal now is to find some answers. A pelvic floor physical therapist can be the source of answers at the very least, and resolution of complaints, ideally.

When to See a Pelvic Floor Therapist

As a pelvic therapist, it is my preference to see a postpartum mother approximately 6 weeks or more after delivery. This allows a bit of time for some of the acute healing to happen, as well as some transition time in the home with the addition of another person. 

There are, of course, some purely physical issues that we address in the clinic, but it is not fair to consider those symptoms without also considering the social and emotional implications of a now expanded family. Good pelvic care is inclusive of all aspects of a woman’s life. It is not uncommon for me to first see a woman for pelvic concerns that began after the delivery of her child 10 or 20 years ago. It is of course my preference to see someone much sooner than this however. 

What to Expect at a Postpartum Pelvic Appointment

A typical postpartum pelvic visit with me looks like a 90-minute one-on-one session. We spend much of this time discussing the individual’s fertility, pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum journey to this point. If appropriate, we will do a vaginal exam on that first visit. If there is hesitation on the part of the client for any reason, we may opt to hold off on that portion of the assessment for the time being or all together. 

Treatment is very patient dependent. It typically includes a mixture of hands-on manual work, CranioSacral intuitive healing work, breathwork, postural considerations, and possibly the addition of a home exercise program for strength. There are times that we also end up discussing hormonal balance and dietary considerations. I may make suggestions of dietary, herbal, or supplemental support for the client. 

Redefining Postpartum Care

To circle back to the start of this post, it is my opinion that every woman should have at least one pelvic floor visit scheduled into their routine obstetric experience. In a perfect world, I love seeing women through the entire journey of fertility to pregnancy to postpartum care. Unfortunately, we are still working within a system that is less preventative and more reactive. Therefore, it is not yet the case that I’m seeing people automatically. 

The more initiative we women take in advocating for our own needs, the more our providers will respond. I implore everyone who has asked themselves “is this normal” in relation to their pelvic floor or postpartum healing to ask at their next doctor appointment for a recommendation or referral to a pelvic therapist. The information and support you will find will change your daily experience of life!

Add an author bio box at the end of your single post content template.

You Might Also Enjoy...