More and more people are learning about pelvic floor physical therapy (PFPT) every day, and while we love the education that is happening, there is still so much misinformation rolling around out there about PFPT, what it’s for, who it’s for, etc. There is also a lack of understanding about what is “normal” during pregnancy, what you can and cannot do while pregnant, and general postpartum experiences (like painful postpartum sex or leakage after baby). Today we are excited to bust some myths surrounding pregnancy, postpartum and the pelvic floor, and hopefully we can empower you with the truth so that you can go and empower others!
Myth #1: I only need PFPT if I’ve had a vaginal delivery.
Absolutely not! The truth is a vaginal delivery can increase your risk of direct trauma to your pelvic floor muscles in terms of stretching and tearing as baby passes through the vaginal canal, but a c-section poses a different risk to your pelvic floor.
During a c-section, 7 layers of tissue are cut through/affected, including your abdominal muscles which work together with your pelvic floor, much like a synchronized dance (click here to visit our Instagram reel about the anatomy of a c-section). Or, tap the image below!
The most important thing to know is that regardless of the method of delivery being pregnant has the greatest impact on the pelvic floor; you were pregnant for 9 months and have had prolonged load on your pelvic floor muscles and it will take time and guidance to recover and restore your pelvic floor.
Myth #2: All postpartum mom’s experience urinary leakage.
Not exactly! Research shows 1 out of 4 moms will experience urinary leakage at some point in their postpartum life. The most common urinary leakage is called stress incontinence. Have you ever caught yourself crossing your legs before a sneeze or a cough? Or avoid jumping on a trampoline with your kids due to the fear of leaking urine? This leakage is caused by too much “pressure and stress” onto the pelvic floor muscles and these muscles are not strong enough to withstand these forces and urine leaks out.
Myth #3: I need to do kegels while I’m pregnant.
Maybe or maybe not! The pelvic floor muscles are designed to contract, relax (resting tone), and bulge (relax completely to allow for a bowel movement or allow for a baby to come out of the vaginal canal).
During pregnancy, the growth of the baby and posture of the pelvis can often cause the pelvic floor muscles to become too tight and makes it increasingly difficult to relax them. Therefore, kegels would not be the best option! Kegels are not a holy grail for the pelvic floor and could potentially do more harm than good.
We highly recommend by the 3rd trimester for moms to begin working on stretching and lengthening their pelvic floor muscles to accommodate for baby to pass through the pelvic canal with minimal risk to the pelvic floor. This is something we work on with our Push Prep mommas; Push Prep is our late pregnancy treatment that helps mommas prepare for delivery.
Myth #4: Sex will ALWAYS be painful after kids.
NOPE! Intercourse can be painful or even uncomfortable for many reasons after childbirth. First, our hormones can be a bit wacky for a while after childbirth causing vaginal dryness. Adding a good, high-quality lubricant can help minimize any discomfort before penetrative intercourse.
Secondly, your pelvic floor muscles may not be as pliable or flexible after a vaginal delivery due to potential scar tissue from tearing leaving you with a tight, burning or tearing sensation with initial penetration. Finally, regardless of your method of delivery, being pregnant can cause your pelvic floor muscles to tighten and become stiff and without proper treatment these muscles can stay this way after childbirth and lead to pain with intercourse both with initial and deep penetration.
Myth #5: Low back, hip pain, and pelvic pain is normal during pregnancy.
Despite what society says about pregnancy, you should just be pregnant. Low back, hip, and/or pelvic pain that occurs during pregnancy is associated with muscular weakness or physiological changes that happen during pregnancy. These symptoms are like a check engine light, even though you can still drive your car NOW that may not always be the case; eventually your car will break down. Ignoring these symptoms can eventually do more harm than good in the long run, even if they seem manageable now. Don’t ignore your check engine light, let Empower Pelvic Health keep you running!
Myth #6: I will have my “mommy-pooch” forever.
First, lets talk about what “mommy-pooch” is. “Mommy-pooch” can be caused by many things; however, the most common causes are a connective tissue disorder (diastasis recti, benign hypermobility syndrome, etc.) and c-section scar related issues.
Pelvic floor physical therapy can help expedite your healing process by improving your posture, facilitating abdominal contraction and strength, addressing any soft tissue adhesions, teaching you how to engage in safe exercise, and connecting you with your postpartum body.
Myth #7: I can’t lift weights while pregnant.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that you can continue to exercise during pregnancy if you were exercising prior to your pregnancy. If you want to begin exercising during pregnancy, you need to first check with your physician. After that, you should find a pelvic floor physical therapist or a physical trainer who specializes in working with pregnant women. They can guide you in exercises and give you the proper load, dosage, and frequency to ensure the safety of you and baby.
Please note that regardless of if you exercised before or started during pregnancy, having a PFPT working with you to ensure safety is recommended; as you near your due date, they will work with you on decreasing your load and relaxing your pelvic floor to prepare for birth.
Isn’t it crazy how common has become normal, and we just accept it? You do not need to just accept your symptoms! PFPT may be just the thing for you to completely transform your pregnant and postpartum experiences. Whether you’re 11 weeks pregnant or 11 years postpartum, it is not too early or too late to address what’s happening.
If you have any questions or want to learn more about the pelvic floor and pelvic floor physical therapy, you can contact us by visiting our website, www.empowerpelvichealth.com. We truly believe that empowered women empower women! We hope you gained some new knowledge and truth and will go share that with others!