Written by: Cailyn McDonnell, PT, DPT
You may have found yourself googling late at night about that nagging pain keeping you up or the extra pressure and heaviness you now notice even though it wasn’t there after birth… You are likely experiencing one of many common pelvic floor symptoms that appear postpartum. It can feel scary and isolating. The good news? You don’t have to deal with it forever. Here are 4 of the most common symptoms and where you can turn for help.
- Pain with vaginal insertion: During pregnancy the pelvic floor takes on a lot of load from the weight of the baby. During a vaginal delivery the pelvic floor muscles must stretch in order to make room for the baby to be born. Oftentimes there are vaginal lacerations/tears that occur which can lead to scar tissue and pain. If a cesarean section was done, the pelvic floor takes on just as much stress and load from the weight of the baby during pregnancy plus there was a major abdominal wall surgery, which leads to scar tissue formation. Pain with vaginal insertion can mean anything from tampons to cups, to penetrative intercourse to GYN speculum exams. Pelvic floor rehab can help mobilize scar tissue, and relax pelvic floor muscles that may be tense.
- Diastasis Recti: During pregnancy the abdominal wall grows and stretches the linea alba. This is a normal occurrence and happens in order to accommodate your growing baby. After the baby is born, you may experience some lingering core weakness or separation of the abdominal wall. Pelvic floor rehab can help strengthen the core as well teach strategies for pressure management.
3. Incontinence: Urinary leaking is common in the postpartum period. There are many different types of urinary incontinence including: stress incontinence, urgency incontinence and mixed incontinence. There are many different reasons why the incontinence is happening including but not limited to: weak/damaged pelvic floor musculature, tight/overactive pelvic floor musculature, poor pressure management and poor deep core strength. Working with a pelvic rehab specialist can help to identify the root cause of the incontinence and help to decrease or eliminate the leaking!
4. Pelvic Organ Prolapse: Prolapse is when the walls of the vagina become lax and the organs start to descend or drop down giving feelings of pressure or vaginal heaviness. Prolapse can also contribute to urinary urgency/frequency and/or incomplete bowel emptying and constipation. Pelvic rehab specialists are the experts in conservative symptom management for pelvic organ prolapse. We work with you to manage internal pressures and strengthen the pelvic girdle and pelvic floor for more support.
Even if your symptom isn’t on the list, it’s worth chatting with your provider or a pelvic health therapist about what you are experiencing, why it’s bothering you, and what your goals are. You don’t have to let it be your “new normal.” Give our team a call today and learn what a pelvic floor rehab plan can look like for you!