Are you planning to have a baby or are you already expecting? It can be an overwhelming time in a woman’s life, with all the physical and emotional changes occurring over several months. Changes are to be expected, but it’s always helpful getting knowledge to keep your body in good shape. Rest assured, there is help out there for women who may not know what to do to keep their bodies healthy and strong. That’s why it’s suggested that every woman who has a baby needs to consult a pelvic floor physiotherapist. Pelvic floor physiotherapists are trained to thoroughly assess and treat any condition in the pelvic region, and in this case, pre and post-natal conditions.
A bit of background knowledge
There are obvious physical changes that happen throughout pregnancy which can have a great effect on your core muscles, especially your pelvic floor. These muscles act like a sling or hammock and have to withstand increased pressure because the belly is growing larger. Because of these changes, we have more difficulty breathing and engaging the core muscles. Over the rest of the pregnancy, women can have more symptoms creep in. These can include low back and hip pain, as well as unwanted leaking when coughing or with more vigorous activity.
During labour and delivery, the pelvic floor goes through stretching and force, which can cause tearing or weakness in the area. Usually, other health care providers will educate you on doing Kegels (pelvic floor exercises) immediately after delivery. Unfortunately, this can sometimes do more harm than good if there is injury to the pelvic floor. When seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist they will complete a thorough assessment. This helps determine what specific exercises or other treatment is needed to help safely heal the tissues and surrounding area.
How can a pelvic floor physiotherapist help me?
Consulting a pelvic floor physiotherapist can benefit you at any stage of pregnancy. They educate and give exercises to keep the pelvic floor muscles strong. They can help improve breathing strategies, posture, and maintain core stability to continue to perform daily activities. Pelvic floor physiotherapists also assess for muscle tone, core strength and tissue quality. Getting started with treatment even before becoming pregnant helps prepare these muscles for delivery. Having good core activity and breathing strategies will also help you perform your daily activities during and after pregnancy with more ease.
How long should I wait before seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist?
Typically, if there is tissue injury, such as muscle tearing or scars, you should wait 6 weeks after delivery to schedule an appointment, allowing time for these tissues to heal. If you are seeking treatment for generalized pain, weakness or unwanted leaking, you can get started sooner. You will receive education of how to maintain good body mechanics and breathing tips to prevent other symptoms from starting.
We hope this information has given you a better insight of why women should seek a pelvic floor physiotherapist. Every pregnancy and delivery is different. Ignoring your symptoms can lead to longer healing times or possibly chronic pain (low back, hips, etc). Having a plan of treatment and educating yourself to improve your function will allow you to start exercising sooner, getting back to your regular activities without pain. And what is better than spending quality time with your new baby?!