Postpartum Pelvic Floor Clinic for Women's Pelvic Health
As a mother-to-be or a new mom, there’s a lot you are juggling – life with a new baby, lack of sleep, breastfeeding, and adapting to other changes to your body. Having to deal with urinary or fecal leakage, or the pain from a laceration (deep cut or tear) sustained during delivery could add to the stress of being a new mom.
Hormonal and physical changes related to pregnancy and delivery (either vaginal or C-section) may increase your risk of pelvic floor complications. Stress on the pelvic girdle (a complex ring of joints, ligaments, and muscles that connect the skeleton to the lower limbs), as well as on the pelvic floor muscles and connective tissues can stretch or damage the pelvic floor. This can cause discomfort, pain, and functional impairments, such as a loss of bladder control.
Our new clinic for postpartum (after childbirth) pelvic floor problems at University of Utah Health is specifically designed to address pelvic floor issues that may occur before or after childbirth. We typically recommend going back to your delivery provider initially to address your symptoms and concerns. However, if you’re not improving or you're experiencing complications, we are here to help.
Types of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Conditions
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Pre- and Post-Birth Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Treatments
We use pelvic floor physical therapy to treat both prepartum and postpartum pelvic floor symptoms. Our team of pelvic floor physical therapists have specialized training in pelvic floor rehabilitation and work with many women who have experienced these types of pelvic health complications.
As part of the therapy process, our pelvic floor physical therapists will discuss your medical history and your goals for physical therapy. They will also conduct an internal pelvic exam to assess your muscle strength, tone, or coordination.
Your pelvic floor physical therapist will work with you to design an individualized treatment plan based on your health condition and personal goals. Your treatment may include:
- Behavior modifications to influence bowel/bladder habits, fluid intake, and diet habits.
- Body awareness and training to improve your posture and the movement of your joints and ligaments.
- Diaphragmatic “belly” or “chest” breathing techniques.
- Exercises for you to do at home that strengthen, relax, or massage muscles, depending on your condition.
- Exercises that can help with bladder leakage, such as Kegels (repeatedly contracting the pelvic muscles to strengthen them).
- The use of biofeedback sensors with a low-grade electrical current to stimulate a muscular response.
Each of our pelvic floor physical therapists will work closely with your gynecologist, midwife, or other providers. This team approach for your treatment ensures that your care is coordinated and appropriate for the best pelvic floor rehabilitation outcomes.
Do You Need Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?
For prepartum women, pelvic floor physical therapy can offer many benefits such as helping alleviate discomfort, pain, or other symptoms. If you are experiencing pelvic floor complications before giving birth, visiting a pelvic floor therapist will teach you techniques and exercises that can strengthen or relax your pelvic floor muscles — depending on what you need — and will help you have continuity of care after you give birth.
For postpartum women, it’s important to understand that the trauma of giving birth can have both short-term and long-term impacts. After delivery in the first six months, there is a lot of remodeling of your muscles and tissues. Many things can impact the healing process such as whether you’re breastfeeding or not and the hormonal status of your body.
Many conditions will improve over time as your muscles and nerves recover from the hormonal and physical changes. However, if your symptoms bother you or your quality of life is suffering, the first step should be to talk to your provider to see if they can help. If not, they can give you a referral to see a pelvic floor physical therapist.
When Should You Begin Treatment?
We typically recommend waiting four to six weeks after delivery to see where you are in your recovery and if your symptoms have subsided.
However, if your symptoms are severe enough to have a significant impact on your lifestyle or you sustained a higher-level tear, we recommend beginning pelvic floor physical therapy treatment earlier.
The choice to seek treatment is up to you. If you feel like your symptoms are impacting your everyday life and would like to have additional help now, then getting treatment is beneficial.
Physical Therapy for Pelvic Prolapse
A pelvic prolapse is when the pelvic muscles become stretched, weakened, and can no longer support your uterus. This can occur due to stress during delivery. While there is a surgical option for this condition, you will need to postpone the surgery until you’re finished having children. In the interim, pelvic floor physical therapy can help alleviate the severity of any associated symptoms.
An initial evaluation by a medical provider is encouraged to ensure you are healing well. If pain or discomfort persists, they may refer you to a pelvic floor physical therapist.