As a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic health and wellness, I am often asked by patients, why hasn’t anyone told them about pelvic floor physical therapy? And isn’t it more than just Kegels?This is especially true for post-partum women who are experiencing pelvic pain, painful sex, bladder leakage, hip and back pain, generalized weakness and other, non-discussed issues that women suffer from after a difficult pregnancy or traumatic childbirth. Sometimes, the birthing experience is not traumatic but now there is a different sensation and a feeling of weakness and pressure that turns out to be pelvic organ prolapse. Or during the pregnancy, a woman notices a weird bulging or separation of her abdominal muscles but thinks it’s normal. Sometimes, auto-immune or rare conditions that affect the pelvic girdle joints and spine cause havoc on the postpartum experience as well.
Many of the women who come to see me during pregnancy and post-partum are self-referred. In other words, their birth provider did not recommend physical therapy or they were referred to a physician specialist who could not really offer help besides medications and “give it time.” Fortunately, there are also ob-gyns, midwives, urogynecologists, urologists and general practitioners who understand and support their patients and refer them to specialized physical therapy to restore their pelvic health and wellness. For some women, this may mean being able to nurse in a chair without pelvic pain. For another, being able to wear the baby in a sling or carrier without pain. Or getting up from a chair without peeing down their leg. Let’s help each other create a place where these issues are discussed without shame or fear. There are great physical therapists around the country and around the world who can offer help. We start by talking about it to each other and our health care providers. Keep the conversation going.