Pelvic Health Physical Therapy Post-Partum
Oliver is one month old! That is crazy to even think about. We are both doing great! He has gained 2 lbs and is the light of our lives.
I am happy to report that I am feeling great physically (and mentally). My stitches have all healed and I do not have any of the signs or symptoms that would warrant me to be extra careful. This doesn’t mean I can start back at Orange Theory Fitness, but it does mean I can get an exam from a pelvic health physical therapist and start increasing my exercises. I have started walking quicker (17-19 min mile pace instead of 30 min mile pace) and I have added core and hip stability exercises in. These are very low impact core stability exercises that focus only on the “true core” which included transverse abdominus (TrA), pelvic floor, diaphragm, and multifidus (low back muscle). I will post a video of the exercises below. In the video I am doing 3 exercises, the first exercise is focusing on the TrA. I am engaging this muscle as I lift my foot off the couch about an inch. My goal is to see if I can limit the amount of hip drop on the side I am lifting my leg. (DO NOT HOLD YOUR BREATH). The second exercise I am letting my leg gently fall to the side and using my TrA to bring my leg back to neutral. The third exercise, I am engaging my TrA as I let my leg go out straight. These 3 exercises look very simple, but I am still sore from doing them! As you can see I am always breathing and not “sucking in”.
Watch my video! -> Post-Partum exercises
So, when can you get evaluated by a pelvic health physical therapist? What the heck is pelvic health physical therapy? And what do they look for?
What is pelvic health physical therapy?
Pelvic health is a sub-specialty of physical therapy. Pelvic health therapists are trained beyond the scope of PT to do internal pelvic floor examinations to asses for anything pelvic health related. Reasons for seeing out a pelvic PT could include anything from pelvic pain, leakage, lack of pelvic floor control, prenatal, postpartum, diastasis recti, post surgical.
When can an evaluation be done?
Honestly, the rule of thumb is 6 weeks for vaginal delivery and 8-12 weeks for C-sections. But, like many things in our healthcare system…we do them to “save our butts”. We could be evaluating sooner so that individuals have “tools in their toolbox” to help them immediately. If you had any stitches, tearing, repairs done then it is best to hold off on an internal evaluation until after they have healed. However, a pelvic health PT can help educate you on ways to help your body recover immediately.
Signs/symptoms to look out for post-partum:
-instability in the pelvic region
-urinary issues (leakage, pain, frequency)
-bowel issues (leakage, pain, constipation)
-low back pain
-pubic bone pain
-separation of the abdominals
What is a pelvic health exam?
I get this question a lot! In simple terms, it is just like a musculoskeletal exam of any other body part. It just seems scary because it includes an examination of your vaginal and/or rectal musculature. This is not scary. Ask anyone who has had a pelvic health exam and they will tell you that their provider made it very comfortable and not painful/scary. During the exam your PT will examine everything from posture, breathing, strength, soft tissue, walking, and basic functional movements. They will then discuss the findings with you and go over proper body mechanics, give you a home program to begin working on, and will answer ALL questions related to pelvic health, exercise, and daily tasks. We have heard it all, so ask anything!
Please, comment below with questions regarding pelvic health physical therapy. And, if you have had pelvic health PT in the past, I encourage you to pass along your experience and open up about how it helped you. Many people are fearful of saying they had pain with sex postpartum, that they leaked urine every time they walked up the stairs, or that they felt a water balloon exiting their vagina….these are all things that so many women suffer with and although they are all common symptoms, they ARE NOT NORMAL. There is help out there. You can look on the APTA (American physical therapy association) website and go to the women’s health section and search their area. You can also go to google and type in pelvic health/women’s health physical therapy to find therapists in their area.
Follow @thepelvispro on Instagram for daily posts of my postpartum journey