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How Does Pregnancy Affect the Pelvic Floor?

After childbirth, you’ll notice differences in your breasts, hips, and pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor is a complex group of muscles and connective tissues that supports the organs in your pelvis, including the uterus, ovaries, bladder, and bowel. You can think of it as a hammock stretching from your pubic bone to your coccyx (tailbone).

While you’re pregnant, the pelvic floor holds your growing uterus (womb). During a vaginal delivery, the muscles stretch up to three times their usual length to allow the baby to pass through the birth canal. As a result, your pelvic floor muscles may change shape or not contract as well.

Some women have pelvic floor dysfunction while still pregnant. Others may not have symptoms until after their baby is born. You may experience a variety of symptoms, including urine leakage, pelvic pain or pelvic prolapse, and painful sex.

Postpartum Pelvic Floor Recovery

Your body needs months to recover after pregnancy. Healing may take longer if  you had a tear in your vagina or perineum (space between the anus and the vulva) during delivery or your provider used forceps to deliver the baby, healing may take longer.

Your symptoms may improve on their own as your body recovers from pregnancy. A study conducted at University of Utah Health found many first-time mothers saw pelvic floor symptoms improve significantly within a year of vaginal deliveries. But this is not always the case; some women continue to have symptoms years later.

However, you don’t have to live with troublesome symptoms that affect your quality of life. A urogynecologist (also known as a pelvic floor specialist), a physician who specializes in pelvic reconstructive medicine and reconstructive surgery can help.

Reasons to See a Pelvic Floor Specialist After Giving Birth

You should see a pelvic floor specialist (urogynecologist) if you still experience bothersome symptoms three to six months or more after giving birth. While not life-threatening, symptoms are inconvenient and can negatively affect your quality of life.

Treatment from a pelvic floor specialist can help improve your postpartum symptoms:

  • Aching in your vagina that worsens at the end of the day or during a bowel movement
  • Feeling a bulge from your vagina
  • Frequent urination or the need to urinate quickly which may cause leakage
  • Stress incontinence (leaking pee when you cough, sneeze, or laugh)
  • Painful sex
  • Vaginal heaviness

What Does a Pelvic Floor Specialist Do?

A urogynecologist (pelvic floor specialist) diagnoses, manages, and treats pelvic health conditions in women. They have specialized training in both urology and gynecology.

Urogynecologists offer many treatments and services to address pelvic floor issues:

Our providers may not recommend surgery until you no longer want to have children. However, if your symptoms severely affect your quality of life, treatment options are available.

Why Choose U of U Health?

The Utah Peripartum Pelvic Floor Wellness & Recovery After Delivery (UPWARD) program offers expert care to women experiencing pelvic floor issues during and after pregnancy. We offer you the empathy and respect you need to feel comfortable in our care.

Our clinic is the only one of its kind in the Mountain West. As such, we provide a safe space for you to discuss sensitive topics. Our pelvic floor specialists are highly trained in pelvic floor anatomy and offer coordinated care focused on your overall wellness. We will treat your symptoms or connect you with the right providers to help you on your way to recovery.

Find a Provider or Location

Make an Appointment

You don’t have to live with pelvic floor dysfunction after pregnancy. Our experts can help. Make an appointment by calling 801-231-2995. You don’t need a referral to see our specialists, but your health insurance provider may require one. Please bring information about your delivery from your doctor if you did not deliver at University of Utah Hospital.

To refer a patient to our Women’s Health Services, please fill out our online referral form or call 801-581-2897.

Resources for Our Patients

When to See a Pelvic Floor Specialist After Birth

If you’re experiencing bothersome pelvic floor symptoms three to six months or more after giving birth, you should consider seeing a pelvic floor specialist. Treatment from our pelvic floor specialists will help significantly improve your postpartum symptoms and quality of life.

Reasons to See a Pelvic Floor Specialist

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