Wednesday, November 28, 2018

My Experience with Pelvic Floor PT

I don't remember exactly where or when I first heard about pelvic floor physical therapy.  I think I randomly came across the topic while I was reading everything I could get my hands on about baby/birth/postpartum (and compiling my 30 page google doc full of information and links - yes I'm crazy).  I read that in other countries, seeing a PT after birth is standard practice, but obviously not in the US.  I also read about the many women who suffer with postpartum complications and never get help, accepting peeing during certain activities as a rite of passage, part of becoming a mom.  The topic can be embarrassing and shameful, so I felt compelled to share my experience to help other women.

After having an amazing birth with no drugs and very minimal tearing, feeling fairly normal only a few weeks after birth, and waiting over 3 months to get back to the gym, I thought my body would resume my regular activity without any lingering issues.  Instead I found myself peeing during certain workouts (just in case I didn't hate jumping rope enough already) and experiencing a lot of discomfort when trying to navigate postpartum intimacy.

I knew I didn't have to live with these symptoms, but I honestly avoided facing them for a while.  I dreaded the awkwardness of explaining them to someone and volunteering myself for more pelvic exams with a new provider.  But a friend gave me the encouragement I needed and a few months ago I finally called my OB for a prescription and made an appointment with a physical therapist that specializes in women's health.

The first appointment involved a full evaluation including a physical exam looking at my abs, flexibility, glute strength and more, as well as an internal exam and a long conversation.  Upon meeting my physical therapist I immediately felt at ease.  She is super easy going and always makes me feel very comfortable.  She also shared the history of how she came into this line of work and her passion for helping people.

And she knows her stuff!  I found out that my pelvic floor was very tight and was basically stuck contracted, so all the kegels in the world would have just made my issues worse!  I also had a small ab separation (diastasis recti), which is normal in pregnancy, but causes that nice mom pooch look and again it's something that I could have made worse if I just resumed my normal ab exercises.  In addition to a weak core and tight pelvic floor, the PT identified that I have weak glutes and I'm also tight in that area and my quads.  It's all related, which did not really occur to me beforehand.

My therapy is a mix of many things.  I have internal release and strengthening activities.  I also do ab exercises that literally started as just me squeezing my abs, lifting my head, and pushing my abs together at the separation.  I have recently progressed to more advanced exercises since my separation has healed, yay!  I also do a lot of stretching, stabilizing exercises, and glute work.

I see my PT every 2-3 weeks and I intend on going until she discharges me or insurance cuts me off.  I pay $75 per visit (with our high deductible plan) and I truly believe it's worth it. All of my issues are not fully resolved, but attending PT has definitely helped and it has also been very educational and given me lots of tools I can do at home myself.

I would recommend any postpartum mom (no matter how much time has passed) or anybody suffering with incontinence issues or pelvic pain to please seek help!  A few months of PT could change everything!

Please feel free to reach out and ask me anything.

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