Do I need pelvic floor physical therapy??
To start to answer that question, let me tell you a little about what pelvic floor PT is. Pelvic floor PT evaluates and treats the muscles, bones, scar tissue, and pressure regulation of the body systems that can cause pelvic floor problems. Pain in the pelvis, hips and low back, urine leakage and organ prolapse or heaviness are some of the most common pelvic floor problems you may experience. In order to treat these problems a skilled physical therapist will do an examination of the external and internal pelvic structures. Treatment may include exercises to either strengthen or relax the pelvic floor muscles, manual therapy to improve scar tissue mobility or release trigger points in the pelvic floor muscles, as well as learning how to coordinate these pelvic floor muscles with the rest of the trunk and body for exercise and functional activities.
The more I talk with friends and random mamas I meet at the park, the more I understand how much we have normalized pelvic floor problems. To be clear: it is not normal to leak urine beyond around 8 weeks post-partum, even if it is just while exercising. It’s not normal to feel like your organs are heavy or even falling out when you go to lift your baby or try to have a bowel movement. It’s not normal to have pain with intercourse beyond when any tears or incisions have healed and it’s not normal or healthy to avoid returning to exercise after having a baby because of fear of injury.
During pregnancy and childbirth our bodies go through such dramatic changes. After baby comes, we are so focused on this new tiny being that we are now responsible for that we can forget about caring for ourselves. It is so common to tell ourselves that these problems that may seem mild are “no big deal” and that we can just live with them and maybe do something later if needed…..I don't want to scare you but mild problems left untreated are very likely to get worse with age and while 25% of women in their 20's report symptoms of prolapse, by the time women are in their 70's that number jumps to 50% (Nygaard, 2008).
For mild pelvic floor symptoms, a few sessions of PT to teach you specifically which exercises are best for you and treat any underlying muscle problems may be enough to prevent bigger problems from developing down the line. Make your body and your health a priority and get the care you need to feel the best you can!