Physical Therapy to Strengthen the Pelvic Floor

It isn’t uncommon for women to experience discomfort, pain or some incontinence during pregnancy. Most MD’s will advise you to ignore it because you are pregnant and that it will get better once you have your baby. Unfortunately, that is not what the research shows. For 80% of women, if pain or urinary incontinence hasn’t resolved after 3 months postpartum, it’s not going to. Some leaking is normal for 3-4 weeks following birth due to the pelvic floor being stretched. Other than that, overall leaking is not normal and can be addressed with treatment. 

Physical therapy can significantly help with with urinary incontinence by not only strengthening your pelvic floor muscles (kegels) but by also assessing how your diaphragm and abdominals are functioning.  If you are not breathing correctly and tend to hold your breath, this places pressure on the pelvic floor and can lead to leakage. The abdominals are also a key part of urinary incontinence as they are the roof of your pelvic floor.  If your abdominals are weak or even overactive in some cases, then this can also cause increased pressure in the pelvic floor.  Physical therapy can greatly address these dysfunctions and re-train these muscles to function correctly through exercises while ensuring you are breathing correctly.  

During pregnancy, the most common area of pain is in the pelvic girdle, low back, and hips. The most common reason for this is the laxity in the ligaments coupled with the increased load of the baby. This is only exacerbated by any muscle weakness or joint instability that was present pre-pregnancy. Once again, most women are advised it’s normal and that this pain will go away once they give birth. Women who are pregnant don’t have to be in pain for 9 months. There are plenty of treatment options that a Physical Therapist can utilize to make your pain more manageable as you go through the pregnancy process. Here is Ian demonstrating an exercise that works well to strengthen without putting pressure on the pelvic floor!

Unless there are serious complications during pregnancy there is no reason why a woman shouldn’t exercise. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise most days of the week throughout pregnancy. In fact, 30 minutes of exercise has been shown to significantly reduce the risk for complications during pregnancy, and the babies are usually healthier. Walking, using a stationary bike, and pre-natal yoga are great options!

If you interested in starting a program either before birth or after, Kristi here at OrthoCore is certified to work with expecting mothers and can build a personalized program for you. Call 401-667-0131 to make an appointment with Kristi.