Many thanks to our friends at Fitness Matters for sponsoring this post. To learn more about the Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy offered at Fitness Matters check out their website here.
After my first baby, I actually made a Facebook post laughing about peeing myself during a workout- I was part of the “mom club,” right? At that time, I knew I wanted to get back to exercise and felt the pressure to “bounce back.” A number of friends shared that they were part of this club, too, but a few people commented about pelvic floor physical therapy. I had never heard of this concept before and gave it some thought, but it was quickly overshadowed again by my personal desire to get back to the same activity level and pant size as before. My time was limited as a new mom and so I chose to return to quick workouts, though peeing myself and dealing with various pains, over finding the root of the problem and addressing it. As a fitness instructor at the time, I would wear dark pants just in case I leaked.
Healing Your Body From the Inside Out
We can get our sight so fixed on one factor but not necessarily the most natural, important and effective factor. For me, I didn’t take the time to heal from the inside out, and the months and years after were proof of that. I continued to suffer from pelvic floor complications, though no one could tell from the outside.
When I was nearing the end of my second pregnancy, I knew I wanted to do things differently. My workouts had been focused on keeping my body in alignment and connected to the birth process. I wanted to carry that through in my postpartum also. I remembered what I had been told years ago about pelvic floor physical therapy and started to consider it for my postpartum care. (As a note, physical therapy can actually be really beneficial in pregnancy too, though I didn’t know at the time.)
You know how it goes, at 6 weeks I was “cleared” for sex and exercise and yet I knew that my body needed more purposeful attention. I found myself walking into my first physical therapy appointment not knowing what to expect, but knowing I would be thankful for the decision. Months later, I’m celebrating the areas of my life that have improved from taking the time to repair the parts of my body that drastically changed during pregnancy and birth (You can see Missy from Fitness Matters talk about those changes here). Most people don’t talk about these things at your local playgroup, but I’m going to go there… because as moms I think we deserve space to talk about the “awkward” realities we are all facing.
5 Ways My Life Improved After Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy
Oh yes, sex. To cut straight to the point- sex has been better since physical therapy than ever before in my life. The pelvic floor is different for everyone, but what I learned is that I actually held tension in my pelvic floor muscles and learning how to release that, especially after the physical trauma of birth, has made an incredible difference for me. My husband is a pretty big fan of me going to physical therapy… just saying.
2. Body Awareness and Appreciation.
Learning about the intricate working of my pelvic floor, core and all the parts that contribute to pregnancy and birth astounded me. I knew it was an incredible process, but realizing that my body had to undergo a huge shift made me realize how important it is to prioritize rehabbing it correctly. No longer is my body appreciation about weight or physical appearance, but it helped me reorient and be aware of my body- even the parts you can’t see and appreciate it earnestly.
3. Bladder Control
You don’t have to be a part of the “pee yourself” club. No, really. It is not an initiation to motherhood and just because it is common doesn’t mean it’s normal. There’s a huge difference both physically and mentally between doing a jumping jack and leaking and doing a jumping jack and not leaking. It takes some work, but I realized I didn’t want to be peeing myself in years ahead because if it goes unaddressed, it doesn’t just go away on it’s own.
4. Intentional Breathing
If you would have told me years ago that breathing could be a key factor to how my core and pelvic floor responds to movement, I would have thought you were speaking nonsense. I thought it was about crunches and kegels. I have realized through my time in physical therapy that the way we breathe during everyday activities (picking up the carseat, putting the baby in the crib, etc.) is a huge connection to our body’s recovery and strength.
5. Less Pain
While I knew I wanted to eventually do physical therapy after my second baby, I made the call due to having pain that felt like bearing down in my pelvis. I told my midwife it felt like a baby had dropped again and she knew it was related to the pelvic floor. As mentioned before, physical therapy also alleviated pain during sex. The tension I was holding in my pelvic floor muscles was leading to pain and discomfort. Additionally, bowel movement pain and strain has been fixed from pelvic floor physical therapy. I’d say those are three areas we deserve to feel as pain free as possible and makes physical therapy something I’d recommend to all of my pregnant and postpartum friends.
Normalizing Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy
While pelvic floor physical therapy is working to be normalized and routine here in the United States, there are many countries in which this is as routine as your 6 week postpartum check up or pediatric visits for the baby. Many countries prioritize this care as both preventative care and treatment. You can often schedule an appointment yourself or see your OB/Midwife/General Practitioner for a referral. Let’s just set this straight- there is no shame in the pelvic floor PT game.
Mama- you deserve to heal. Pregnancy and birth change your body so much. Get yourself to the PT office and let’s normalize pelvic floor care.