If you have followed my practice at all, whether it be on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, you have likely read about the care French women receive after childbirth. I am specifically referring to the model of postpartum care for moms (or mums) focusing on pelvic floor health. In France, women are seen by a pelvic physio (pelvic Physical Therapist) approximately 6 weeks following delivery and receive 10-12 sessions with the physio for "perineal re-education." Sound a bit odd? Well, it may, but it may not once you know the affects of pregnancy and labor/delivery on the pelvic floor. According to a study by researchers at the California HMO Kaiser Permanente, approximately 1 in 3 women suffer from a pelvic floor disorder (this includes urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, and prolapse), and roughly 80 percent of those women are mothers.
It doesn't seem out of place to expect some type of typical care following a vaginal delivery or cesarean delivery (a major surgical operation), right? I mean, we don't expect our athletes to incur an injury, wait 6 weeks to heal and then return to previous level of function with no skilled or specialized professional rehabilitation. "Well, professional athletes are training for a very specific sport with high physical demands and it is their job..." one may rebuttal. And my response...Well, moms are returning to (let's be honest...often continuing with) everyday functions that stress the core and pelvic floor and require good function to prevent compensations or overuse that could cause additional injuries. And..some women, in the US, don't even get a full 6 weeks to assist with some of that recovery before it is back to "life pre-delivery."
So...when the 6 weeks is up, what rehab do women get to make sure that the pelvic floor is healthy and ready to take on current or future demands? Holding up (and in) vital organs, toileting, lifting/carrying, sex, return to exercise.... Most are left to research on their own navigating through loads of online information, advise from family and friends and exercise programs that may or may not be helping them with an effective recovery. This can be daunting for many women. I have had women tell me it is daunting, confusing and frustrating. There is a plethora of click-bait links to postpartum advice and programs, some of which lack a strong foundation of the multiple facets of core and pelvic floor rehab following childbirth. It does not have to be daunting and impossible, but there is also no a quick fix.
Every woman in the US should be seen by a pelvic Physical Therapist after childbirth. The more this is discussed, and the more those who have benefited from pelvic PT speak about it, the more awareness there will be. So what can a pelvic PT help you with? Here are just a few things.
- pain management during pregnancy
- labor positioning
- prevention or treatment of adhesions of c-section scars and perineal tears
- diastasis recti
- pelvic floor tightness or laxity
- pelvic floor dysfunction
- urinary (pee) or fecal (poo) incontinence
- tailbone (coccyx) pain
- pubic symphysis pain and dysfunction
- sacroiliac (SI) joing pain and dysfunction
- stretching to relieve muscle discomfort during postpartum
- painful intercourse
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only. The information is a result of gathering published information, some researched, and years of practice experience by the author. This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your healthcare provider. Do not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always consult with your healthcare provider before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read on this web site. Information provided on this web site and the use of any services purchased from the web site by you DOES NOT create a doctor/therapist-patient relationship between you and Dr. Wilhelm.
Dr. Robyn Wilhelm, PT, DPT specializes in women's health and pelvic PT. An Ohio native, she enjoys Buckeye football and misses the Fall season. Dr. Robyn enjoys her life in Arizona and spending time with her husband, two kids and Chocolate Lab George.