Postpartum Recovery: Helping New Moms Regain Pelvic Health
Giving birth can put a woman’s body through the wringer and for millions
of women, along with a new bundle of joy comes one or more pelvic health
concerns. Incontinence, painful sex, and pelvic or back pain are often
experienced by new moms—and while these symptoms are common, they
are never normal.
Pregnancy and childbirth can damage the muscles, ligaments and nerves
of the pelvic floor. Stretching from the pubic bone to the tailbone, the
pelvic floor muscles support your bladder, bowel, uterus, vagina, pelvis
and back, and are involved in virtually every step you take. When these
muscles become weak, torn or tight, incontinence, prolapse and pain can
be the result. Scar tissue from an episiotomy or C-section can cause pelvic
or back pain as well as sexual or bowel dysfunction.
If you are among the roughly 40 percent of women who experience a problem
after birth, pelvic floor rehabilitation—a specialized type of physical
therapy—can often eliminate your symptoms and make a significant
difference in your health and well-being.
Too many women try to simply live with their symptoms and don’t
seek treatment until years after they given birth, when the seemingly
small problems—a “little” pain or leaking—have
grown into larger, more serious issues. If your symptoms are still present
at your six-week checkup, ask your doctor for a referral for pelvic floor
therapy at St. Jude’s Centers for Rehabilitation. Our services are
covered by all insurance plans.
By normalizing pelvic floor muscle tone, decreasing tissue tightness and
sensitivity, and strengthening weak or overstretched muscles, the vast
majority of pelvic floor disorders can be treated or prevented. For more
information or to make an appointment, please call us at
Taking Care of Your Back
During pregnancy, hormones decrease the stability of muscles, joints and
ligaments; posture and body mechanics are affected; and weak or stressed
muscles force other muscles to overcompensate, causing muscle spasm and
tightness. The result is often back or hip pain. If pain is part of your
new “normal”, ask your doctor for a referral for pelvic floor
therapy at St. Jude’s Centers for Rehabilitation.
Some additional tips to keep your back healthy:
- Practice good posture and avoid standing on one leg with your hip jutting out.
- Before standing or lifting your baby, support your back by pulling in your
lower belly and anus muscles.
- Hold your baby close to your body and try using support when carrying your
baby, such as a sling or Snuggli.
- When breastfeeding, sit straight and tall and bring your baby to your breast,
don’t hunch over. Supporting your baby with pillows or a Boppy can
help; you can also try other nursing positions, such as side lying.
- For sore muscles, apply ice or heat (a sock filled with uncooked rice and
microwaved for 60 seconds works nicely).
The Benefits of Kegels
Kegels are not helpful for every pelvic floor condition but can be a great
starting point for women affected by minor leakage, whether urine, gas
or feces. By toning and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles that control
continence, Kegels can help women regain control as well as promote a
faster recovery from childbirth.
This simple exercise can be performed sitting, standing or lying and you
can start immediately after giving birth.
- Breathe in, and as you breathe out, squeeze your pelvic floor muscles.
Pull your muscles up and in, as if you’re trying to not to pass gas.
- You may feel your lower tummy muscles tighten, but if you’re tightening
your thighs or buttocks, you’re tightening the wrong muscles.
- Try to hold the squeeze for five seconds, counting out loud to ensure you
don’t hold your breath – and then relax for at least 10 seconds.
Letting the muscles relax is important; not fully releasing after every
squeeze can overwork and over-tighten the muscles.
- Gradually work up to 10 second holds and 10 contractions at a time.
- In addition, get in the habit of doing a quick, strong squeeze before you
sneeze, cough, laugh or lift your baby. These quick contractions tone
the fast-twitch muscle fibers within the pelvic floor that need to react
quickly to increased pressure to prevent leakage.
- It can take time for these muscles to strengthen, so persevere. If you
are uncertain if you are doing them correctly, your pelvic floor physical
therapist can help you learn how to use the right muscles.
Pelvic Floor Therapy can help with:
• Bladder or bowel incontinence
• Diastasis recti (a separation of the abdominal muscles from their
• Rectal pain
• Urinary frequency, urgency or retention (difficulty starting your
• Vulvar burning and pain
• Tailbone pain
• Scar tissue from C-section, episiotomy or tears
• Perineal pain
• Pelvic prolapse (when the uterus, bladder or bowel slips out of place)
• Back or hip pain
• Painful intercourse
• Constipation and obstructed defecation
About St. Jude Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation
We are uniquely qualified to help. We offer a highly trained and experienced
team of female physical therapists who specialize exclusively in women’s
pelvic health – along with one of the state’s most comprehensive
and innovative array of services and therapies. The result is highly individualized
treatment in an emotionally healing environment.
Our integrative and holistic approach uses today’s most effective
non-surgical options to restore balance, strength and flexibility to the
muscles and tissues throughout the pelvic area—each designed to
help you regain a healthy and active life, free of embarrassment, pain
or limitation. Our services are covered by insurance. To learn more or
make an appointment, please call us at
Pilates Meets Pelvic Floor Fitness
In addition to individualized physical therapy, we offer Pfilates, a unique
and highly effective pelvic floor strengthening class designed for all
fitness levels. Twice-a-week group classes use simple Pilates-inspired
exercises and traditional rehabilitation to help participants rebuild
pelvic floor muscles and recover normal bladder, bowel and pelvic floor
function. To sign up, please call
. No physician referral needed.