By Kelly Fortner DPT- CAPP-Pelvic Floor Certified through APTA
Did you know that there are physical therapist specifically trained to treat women who are pregnant or in the postpartum period!?
Women go through many changes when they are pregnant from hormonal to physiological to musculoskeletal. A woman’s body is amazing in what it can do. It can adapt and change to create and birth a beautiful tiny human! Women truly are superheroes!
These changes that occur, however, leave women more prone to dysfunction and pain both during pregnancy and after childbirth.
Some statistics… Up to 72% of pregnant women reported having low back pain or pelvic girdle pain. (Morgan 2005, Wang 2004, Ostgaard 1991, Vleeming 2008). Of those who reported pain only 15-30% received any treatment. (Owens 2002, Stapleton 2002). 37% women reporting low back pain in pregnancy still report pain 18 months postpartum (Larson 1999). Not only can women have low back or pelvic girdle pain, they can also suffer from urinary incontinence (leakage of urine with coughing, sneezing, laughing or a strong urge), fecal incontinence (leakage of feces), dyspareunia (painful intercourse), etc.
Women are not being properly educated about what happens to their body’s during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period and what all of these changes can mean for her. One study reported that when women were asked about certain topics that affected them in pregnancy and postpartum, half of them had never received any information about Kegels, episiotomies or urinary incontinence. Furthermore, 72.8% did not know about change in vaginal caliber, 84% about neuropathy, and 80% about fecal incontinence. (McLennan 2005)
53% did not even know that pelvic floor exercises/Kegels could help with urinary incontinence.
What does this mean? There are a lot of women out there in pain or dealing with urinary or fecal incontinence that are not getting the help that they need. Many women think it is normal to be experiencing these symptoms, but it is not normal and can be treated. Specialized physical therapist are trained in helping women no matter what stage of pregnancy they are in or if they are in the postpartum period.
Women’s health physical therapists take into account your entire body. They look at posture, movement, biomechanics, and pelvic floor function. They can also do a biofeedback assessment to see if the pelvic floor muscles are working as they should be. They can assess diastasis recti (a separation of the abdominal muscles) and formulate a plan to help reduce or resolve it. They help to teach women what they need to know to get their bodies back to normal.
So what is the take home message? Pain, incontinence, painful intercourse, or anything else your body may be dealing with is not “normal.” It can be treated! And it is better to get it taken care of sooner rather than later.
P.S. Did you know? In France women automatically get a referral to pelvic floor rehabilitation after delivering their baby. I find this to be amazing and should be the norm in the U.S. also!
Aquacare Physical Therapy is the only physical therapy practice on the Eastern Shore offering Pelvic Floor Therapy. If you would like to schedule a free consultation with our pelvic floor therapists, please call our clinics at the following locations: Millsboro- 302.945.4250, Millville-302.539.3110, Seaford- 302.536.1774, West Ocean City, Berlin or Salisbury MD- 410.677.0700, Easton MD- 410.770.9720