The recovery of pelvic floor muscles following childbirth has become a prominent topic in the last several years, but did you know that it is actually beneficial to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist before you give birth?
Seeking pelvic floor physiotherapy while pregnant is a great way to prepare your body and muscles for childbirth. The pelvic floor includes a group of muscles that can be trained to relax and help with delivery and activated to help with recovery.
It is unlikely that you would run a marathon without training first, so why not train your pelvic floor muscles to help with the birthing process?
At what point during pregnancy should you see a pelvic floor physiotherapist?
It is safe and appropriate to seek treatment at any point in your pregnancy. If you are experiencing pain or have any concerns, accessing treatment sooner is always better. If you do not have any concerns but want to be proactive, it is recommended to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist for an assessment early in your second trimester.
This would allow for enough time to work on any issues identified. Towards the end of your pregnancy, pelvic floor treatment may assist in labour and delivery techniques.
A pelvic floor physiotherapist can re-assess you at six weeks postpartum. Depending on your assessment, your physiotherapist will be able to determine how often they would like to see you and develop a treatment plan to help you on your journey.
What can a pelvic floor physiotherapist assess and treat during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, a pelvic floor physiotherapist can help address areas of pelvic pain or pressure, address issues with leakage of stool or urine, or teach you exercises and techniques to help prepare your body and your pelvic floor for delivery. Topics that may be addressed in your treatment include, but are not limited to:
- Hip and low back pain
- Round ligament pain
- Exercises to relax for delivery
- Exercises to restore function of the pelvic floor muscles and core to help with early post-partum recovery
- Breathing and pushing techniques for delivery
- Exercises that are safe to complete and/or exercises to avoid based upon your individual assessment
- Pain with intercourse
- Urinary or bowel incontinence
- Planned or unplanned caesarean birth
- Pelvic organ prolapse
Pregnant and unsure if you need to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist?
Sit on the floor with your legs crossed and imagine trying to stop the flow of gas or pulling your tailbone towards your pubic bone.
- Can you feel the contraction around your anus?
- Can you feel the skin pulling up and away from the surface you are sitting on?
- Can you feel the muscles around your anus relax and come down when you relax?
Now image you are trying to squeeze a tampon inside the vaginal walls, or try to squeeze your labia together.
- Can you feel the muscles contract around your vagina?
- Can you feel those muscles relax?
If you did not feel anything during the above activities or are uncertain if you did, it is recommended that you speak to a pelvic floor physiotherapist.
If you are having any pregnancy related pain or discomfort, a pelvic floor physiotherapist would be a valuable part of your care team. They could also address how best to take care of your body during pregnancy, how to prepare for labour and delivery and help you get a step up on the post-partum recovery process.
One of the beautiful things about pelvic floor physiotherapy is that it is not only for people who are in pain or have concerns; it is a great tool that can be utilized by all pregnant individuals to set your body up for a successful pregnancy, delivery and recovery. Your pelvic floor physiotherapist cannot wait to meet you!
Find a pelvic physiotherapist near you if you’re experiencing symptoms and want to seek treatment.
This blog was written by Christine Hamill and originally appeared on Lifemark.ca.