Sarah is 32 years old and pregnant for the first time. She’s 28 weeks along and starting to think about giving birth.
She’s not sure what to expect!
She’s read about perineal massage but is not sure when or how to do it. She also heard that Kegels could help with delivery, so she does some every now and then. Recently, she’s started to feel pain in her groin, especially when she’s rolling over in bed or trying to put her pants on.
If you’re like Sarah, you could get answers to your questions AND help with pain by working with a pelvic physical therapist!
Pelvic physical therapists have completed all the requirements for physical therapy practice AND additional coursework to specialize in issues of peeing, pooping, sex, pregnancy, postpartum, pelvic pain and more. They focus on the muscles “down there,” the ones we take for granted when everything is working well.
But when things stop working well, we may experience pain, urine leakage, and constipation. These are common issues during pregnancy!
- Up to 72% of women report lower back or pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy1
- Up to 75% of women report urine leakage during pregnancy2
- 40-90% of women report getting little to no information about Kegels, episiotomy, and urine or fecal leakage3
If you are one of these people, then you are not alone! And like Sarah, most pregnant people are told “it’s normal” and to put up with it until they deliver. Of the women who experience lower back or pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy, only 15-30% of them receive treatment for it.3
We can do better!
Working with a pelvic physical therapist during pregnancy can help you:
Address current aches, pains, or pelvic floor issues
You do not need to suffer from pain for months as you await the birth of your baby. Pelvic PTs can help you stay active during pregnancy in a comfortable way. They can also help you gradually build up your endurance to increase your physical activity safely.
Prepare for a vaginal and/or Cesarean birth
Pelvic physical therapists can help teach you different pushing options, different labor and delivery positions, and stretches to reduce the likelihood of perineal tearing. Whether you are having a scheduled C-section or not, we can also discuss what recovery will look like and what support you may need.
Prepare for & navigate postpartum recovery
We do better when we’re prepared, and that goes for postpartum recovery too! Pelvic physical therapists will share what’s common, normal, and what you can do to improve your recovery. We’re here to bust myths and provide individualized advice for you! Our patients love continuing to work with the same pelvic PT they saw during pregnancy after they deliver.
PS: It’s never too late to see a pelvic PT! Whether you’re 2 months or 20 years postpartum, the pelvic floor is a resilient part of your body when it comes to healing!
Back to our friend Sarah. She found a pelvic PT that is a board-certified women’s health specialist to work with through Agile PT. She had the convenience of in-person and virtual appointment options. She learned about exercises to help her with pelvic girdle pain, strategies to make rolling in bed easier, and how to prepare her body for a vaginal delivery. She plans to go back to her same pelvic PT postpartum, once she’s settled into life as a first-time parent.
Did you know that pelvic PT is the standard of care for postpartum women in France? Let’s make it standard of care in the US too! To find an Agile pelvic health specialist near you visit: https://agilept.com/about/staff/
About the Author: Dr. Monika Stefanowicz
- Clinton SC, Newell A, Downey PA, Ferreira K. Pelvic girdle pain in the antepartum population: physical therapy clinical practice guidelines linked to the international classification of functioning, disability, and health from the section on women’s health and the orthopedic section of the american physical therapy association. J Women’s Health PT. 2017;41(2):102-125.
- Sangsawang B, Sangsawang N. Stress urinary incontinence in pregnant women: a review of prevalence, pathophysiology, and treatment. International urogynecology journal. 2013 Jun 1;24(6):901-12.
- Section of Women’s Health. Fundamental topics in pregnancy and postpartum physical therapy. 2016.