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Many of us don’t give the pelvic floor too much thought, but we rely on it daily for basic functions. (Thank those pelvic floor muscles next time you have pleasurable sex, or don’t accidentally pee your pants!)
An estimated 1 in 3 women experiences pelvic floor dysfunction at some point in their lifetime. While pelvic floor disorders can develop at any time, they are especially common during pregnancy, postpartum, and menopause. Given the importance of the pelvic floor, symptoms of these disorders can interfere with daily life.
Unfortunately, since pelvic health doesn’t receive nearly the attention it deserves, many birthing people endure the discomfort of pelvic floor dysfunction unnecessarily. Some don’t realize they have an actual condition. Others know there’s a name for the problem but shrug off symptoms as something they have to live with after childbirth.
Let us set the record straight: you never have to live with discomfort of any kind, and pelvic floor issues are both treatable and preventable.
The best part? You can start healing without leaving the house — pelvic floor training and recovery are more accessible thanks to experienced telehealth providers like Ruth Health.
Here’s more on the most common postpartum pelvic floor problems and how to treat them with the right pelvic floor exercises.
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles, ligaments, and tissues at the bottom of your torso. It supports your pelvic organs: the bladder, bowels, and uterus. The urethra, vagina, and anus also pass through the female pelvic floor.
The pelvic floor has quite a few jobs to do:
Many physical aspects of pregnancy and childbirth can cause trauma to your pelvic floor muscles, leading to issues with the pelvic floor’s primary responsibilities, such as the following.
Keep in mind that different types of pelvic floor dysfunction may arise. Muscle strength is the ability to fully contract and extend a muscle or group of muscles. In this context, “weakness” refers to overly tense and overstretched muscles, which are more commonly associated with the term.
During pregnancy, your growing uterus compresses your bladder, making it a little more challenging to hold. Additional stretching of and strain on your pelvic floor muscles during childbirth is also a factor.
Tearing in the perineum, the tissue between the vagina and anus, during labor and delivery can lead to issues with bowel control. Childbirth can also strain the anal sphincter, the ring of muscle that opens and closes the anus.
At the other end of the spectrum, overly tense pelvic floor muscles can delay the emptying of your colon after childbirth, leading to constipation.
One of the pelvic floor’s primary functions is to hold your pelvic organs in the right place. Different types of pelvic floor dysfunction may contribute to prolapse or shift these organs from their normal position.
Overstretched muscles can cause the uterus, bladder, or rectum to fall into your vagina, while overly tight muscles may force organs out of place.
Different types of pelvic floor dysfunction have other underlying causes which is why it can be helpful to work with a pelvic floor specialist who can help you identify the attention your pelvic floor needs.
Generally speaking, most postpartum pelvic floor issues result from muscle dysregulation. Heel slides and toe taps are simple exercises that support the pelvic floor. Follow the steps below to try them at home.
Many women have some degree of damage to the pelvic floor muscles after pregnancy and delivery, including c-section deliveries. For some, the pelvic floor and vaginal muscles gradually strengthen and regain their function during postpartum recovery.
Other birthing people may need physical therapy. If that’s the case, work with a pelvic floor specialist who can recommend a treatment plan just for you. Each of us in unique and pelvic floor therapy should never be seen as a one-size-fits-all treatment strategy.
Ruth Health takes an personalized approach to pelvic floor training and recovery. As a first step, our providers conduct an external assessment of your body’s mechanical functions. (Yes, this really can be done virtually!) We’ll then combine the assessment with your health history and chief complaints to develop a treatment plan just for you.
You don’t have to wait for postpartum pelvic floor issues to begin strengthening your pelvic core. Working with a pelvic floor physical specialist during pregnancy may help you avoid some of these issues altogether.
Ruth Health is a telehealth clinic and care hub for pregnancy and postpartum. With on-demand services, including pelvic floor training, c-section recovery, and lactation support, we make the journey into parenthood more supported, comfortable, and joyful.
Our one-on-one pelvic floor training and recovery sessions blend physical therapy and fitness to address your specific needs on your time.