Whether you are pregnant, postpartum or experiencing pelvic pain/dysfunction, pelvic floor physical therapy can help address your pelvic (and often full body) symptoms by restoring strength and mobility of the muscles and ligaments surrounding your pelvis!
In many places, pelvic floor physical therapy is considered part of standard medical care for women. But here in the US, pelvic health is not prioritized as much as I wish it was — and because of that, there can be confusion around who should see a pelvic floor specialist, and when an appointment can help. As your friendly neighborhood PT, I’m here to tell you about the three times I believe women should find themselves in an office like mine.
The unfortunate truth is that most women are told that they should only seek pelvic floor therapy in the following instances:
As a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist, I can confidently tell you that this advice couldn’t be further from the truth!
The real truth is that labor and delivery is like a marathon!
And would you show up to a marathon without any training and just say, “Oh well, I’ll go to the doctor after I finish if I’m in pain?” Of course not.
Training your pelvic floor to support you and your baby throughout your pregnancy, labor, and into postpartum truly matters. Here are a few reasons why:
In my practice, I work with pregnant women all the time and I’ve seen the incredible difference that a strong pelvic floor can make. I even created a fitness program that teaches mamas-to-be how to move safely and build strength throughout all three trimesters! Here’s how a pelvic floor PT can help you during pregnancy:
I meet so many women who don’t know how to safely move and strengthen their bodies while pregnant — so they don’t work out at all.
Please don’t buy into the lie that you have to bubble-wrap yourself for nine months.
You can absolutely get stronger during pregnancy, and it will absolutely benefit your body in the long run to do so! If it seems scary to figure out what movements will be safe for you and baby, a PT can give you the knowledge you need to work out with complete peace.
Current guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend a pregnant person workout for about 150 minutes per week at least, and I firmly believe women at any stage of fitness can follow these guidelines.
Never worked out before? Can you start now? The answer is YES!
The ACOG guidelines recommend that even if you have never worked out before, it is still safe to begin during pregnancy so long as you start light and progress slowly.
I recommend starting with bodyweight movements only, and then when you feel comfortable, add light weights to your routine!
While all pelvic floor physical therapists can help you modify exercise and reduce pain during pregnant, not every therapist is trained in labor and delivery preparation.
There are so many ways you can prepare your body for labor, from breathing correctly to pushing with the proper technique. Not every PT offers this, so ask before your appointment — but I definitely do, and my patients love it!
I recommend connecting with a pelvic floor physical therapist in your area (or virtually) as soon as you find out you are pregnant. You may not need them right away, but establishing care is so important and you want to have a PT guiding you along your journey.
Specifically for labor/push prep I recommend at least 1-3 appointments spread out over the second and third trimester. The reason behind this is that you want to give yourself time to connect with your breath and pelvic floor.
As your baby and uterus grow, the stress on your pelvic floor increases and it can become more and more difficult to connect with your pelvic floor while it is under stress.
YES! If you have a pelvic floor and core, you will benefit from physical therapy.
It is important to note that even though the name of our profession is “pelvic floor physical therapy,” we as physical therapists treat the WHOLE body.
Your mobility and strength of your ribcage can affect your core which can affect your pelvic floor which can affect your hips – you get the idea.
During labor prep appointments with my C-section mamas, I go over a ton of educational material such as:
I experienced pelvic girdle pain in my own pregnancy, and it is no joke!
You don’t have to suffer through it alone with no relief. It’s one of the most common pregnancy pains, and there are definitely steps you can take to minimize it.
Throughout pregnancy your body is preparing for labor and your ligaments become more elastic thanks to an increase in hormones such as estrogen and relaxin. With an increase in elasticity, your joints are able to move more leading to potential inflammation.
If you don’t have strong muscles surrounding the pelvis to compensate, things can get pretty painful. Working with a pelvic floor physical therapist can help you address this pain through pelvic strengthening and stability exercises.
Many expecting moms also deal with round ligament pain, which feels like a sharp belly spasm, sciatica, hip pain, and low back pain as their bodies adjust to the growing weight of the baby.
Every single one of these conditions can be helped with proper pelvic floor therapy!
When in doubt, see a PT during your pregnancy — you may be shocked at how much better you feel.
Do all new moms need to see a pelvic floor PT? My short answer: YES. Even if you’re not experiencing unusual pain, a physical therapist can help your body recover and heal well from the start, eliminating potential pains and problems later on.
Personally, I will schedule virtual appointments with postpartum moms as early as 1-2 weeks after giving birth!
In that virtual appointment, we’ll:
If the thought of working with a pelvic floor PT immediately after birth sounds daunting and stressful, don’t worry, I created an online educational course and movement program for you to complete during those early weeks postpartum!
Typically, you’ll be cleared for in-person pelvic floor physical therapy once you’ve received the 6-week clearance from your OBGYN or midwife. When you visit me in-person for PT, we can:
Whether you’re experiencing a specific postpartum issue or just want to make sure you’re on the right track for healing, a pelvic floor PT can help. Most importantly, I want to remind you that it is never too late to address issues in your body and get the help you need to heal. Whether you had a baby 6 weeks ago or 6 years ago, there is no expiration date when your body stops healing, so it’s never too late to schedule your first appointment.
Did you know that even if you’ve never given birth in your life, you may need pelvic floor physical therapy?
Physical therapy can help with the following concerns:
Pelvic floor dysfunction can occur in women of all ages for a variety of reasons, and there’s no shame in seeking some relief so that you can get back to the life you love.
Find a pelvic floor therapist through pelvicrehab.com.
Of course, if you’re local to Nashville, I can see you in person, too! Don’t deal with pelvic pain on your own – I’d love to help!
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