Welcome to Part 1 of a two part series on Pelvic Physiotherapy. We asked Kate Jones of Hamilton’s Nest Physio to help us understand a little more about pelvic floor injuries from birth and introduce us to this very important aspect of prenatal and postpartum health care. Join us next week for Part 2: What Happens At A Pelvic Physio Assessment?

Why Pelvic Health Physiotherapy?

Have you ever sprained your ankle? Most of us have. If it is pretty sore or hard to move, many of us will see a Physiotherapist for some rehab afterwards. If you’ve ever had a more significant muscle, tendon, or ligament injury you almost definitely went to physio, and your friends, family, and doctor likely all recommended it.

Have you ever given birth? During pregnancy, the growing baby puts a lot of pressure downwards on your pelvic floor muscles and the connective tissue.

During a vaginal delivery, your pelvic floor muscles can stretch more than 3 times their regular length.

As a result of birth, you might have some skin, muscle, or anal sphincter tearing. If you have a c-section, the OBGYN will cut through the connective tissue that your abdominal muscles connect onto just above the pubic bone. Then you get sent home to stay up around the clock and keep a tiny baby alive. Six short weeks later you are cleared to “go back to normal activity”.

Does anyone do a vaginal exam or rectal exam to check for normal reflexes, prolapse, pelvic floor muscle strength and tone, and areas of pain? Does anyone talk about how muscles function and risk of injury when you are sleep deprived? Not often. Considering the potential for injury, It is absurd that pelvic physiotherapy is not routinely recommended postpartum.

The Stats On Pelvic Floor Injuries From Birth

  • About 1 in 3 women will experience urinary incontinence. This is leaking pee when when doing things that put pressure on the bladder like jumping or sneezing. This is so common that we expect mother will be a little (or a lot) incontinent when she sneezes or laughs or coughs.
  • About 1 in 2 vagina owners who have given birth will experience a prolapse. This is when the bladder, uterus, or rectum has dropped lower into the vagina or out of the vagina. Most people most are not aware of a prolapse until something is coming out of their body.
  • At 3 months postpartum, 1 in 6 women have pain during intercourse. This can lead to avoiding sex and relationship problems if not addressed.

Who Should See a Pelvic Physiotherapist?

That answer is easy: Everyone.

Every person who has given birth, regardless of how they birthed, should see a pelvic physiotherapist at or after 6 weeks postpartum.

If a person doesn’t have obvious symptoms of pelvic floor injuries such as leaking, prolapse, or pelvic pain, a Pelvic Physiotherapist can help keep it that way. If there are specific concerns, a Pelvic Physiotherapist can help address those too. Bodies are resilient and can recover in amazing ways postpartum. Taking a preventative approach to pelvic health postpartum is a vital way to support your optimal recovery and avoid the development of pelvic concerns in the future.

What Does A Pelvic Physiotherapist Do?

The Pelvic Physiotherapists at Nest Physio, as well as any reputable clinic, have extended training. They can diagnose pelvic organ prolapse, assess pelvic floor muscle strength and relaxation, and help decrease pelvic pain. Patients learn how to strengthen abdominal and pelvic floor muscles that have been stretched during pregnancy. Physiotherapists can help birthing parents to not leak when they sneeze or jump.

Additionally, Pelvic Physiotherapists know about muscle function and injury risk for the unique circumstances of the postpartum parent and can give recommendations about how to scale exercise depending on how people have been sleeping and where they are at in their postpartum recovery.

Don’t forget to join us next week to learn about what happens during a pelvic floor assessment.