During pregnancy and following childbirth, your body may be trying to get your attention. However, the fatigue, aches and pains that are associated with giving birth may become something you overlook because of the demands of motherhood. While you are pregnant, the weight of your baby pushes downward on your bladder, rectum and pelvic floor muscles causing these organs and muscles to weaken. Many women post birth (vaginal or c-section) experience urinary incontinence, anal incontinence, perineal pain (tear in the skin between the vagina and anus) or chronic pelvic pain. These changes may occur months, or even years in some instances, after giving birth. Since it takes some time for your reproductive system to heal after birth, being in tuned to the discomfort you feel during and after pregnancy is important so you can find the right doctor and treatment that will ease your pain. Your OBGYN can assess your symptoms and refer you to a specialist, such as a urologist or gastroenterologist for further testing. In some cases, your doctor will send you to see a pelvic rehabilitation specialist, a physical therapist specializing in the field of pelvic discomfort, to help you feel better.
What To Expect From Pelvic Physical Therapy Treatment
Your pelvic rehabilitation specialist will help you target the muscles that are weak by giving you exercises to do at home to strengthen them. Electrical stimulation or massage therapy on the outside pelvic region or inside of the vagina may be performed during physical therapy sessions as well. This idea may not sound appealing to everyone; however keep in mind that your PT is trained in strengthening muscles and treats these practices with professionalism. The end result will be more than worth it if these methods can help you on the road to recovery.
You do not have to suffer silently in discomfort. Remaining proactive with your health will allow you to feel empowered and relieve your pain so you can feel like yourself again post-pregnancy.
Reliable Resources For Information
American Physical Therapy Association
Herman Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute
International Pelvic Pain Society