Have you heard of a pelvic floor physiotherapist? If not, you’re not alone. And yet, this person may just be the most valuable asset to the health and function of your postpartum body and quality of life.
Whether you’ve had a baby or not, are 6 weeks or 16 years postpartum, it’s never too late to visit a pelvic floor physiotherapist (PFP) to ensure your pelvic floor and core is functioning as it should.
As we age our hormones cause the pelvic floor muscles to thin and weaken, so regardless if you’ve had children or not, seeing a PFP will help ensure you're not facing issues as you age, specifically incontinence, and hip and low back pain.
“Urinary incontinence is currently the most common cause of admission to long-term health care centres in Canada and the United States” - The Canadian Continence Foundation
A PFP is trained to conduct internal exams to assess muscles, connective tissues and nerves that make up the pelvic floor. They are specially trained in this area, at is a specialization that goes beyond general physiotherapy work.
Now let’s dive it to four reasons all women should see a pelvic floor physiotherapist.
REASON 1: Prevention
If I could speak to the 'me' from 13 years ago, when I was pregnant with my first child, I would have given myself two pieces of advice:
- go see a pelvic floor physiotherapist
- get the Bellies Inc Ab Tank Wrap system
I was plagued with a number of issues in all my pregnancies, including:
- sciatica pain
- hip pain
- carpel tunnel syndrom
- umbilical hernia
I knew after my third child there was something wrong with my poochy tummy but no one had the answers for me.
Had I been aware of the value of a PFP, I wouldn’t have faced so many painful issues. I would have saved myself a lot of money over the years searching for answers, when a PFP would have been able to find the source of my issue.
I would have also invested in the Bellies Inc. Ab Tank System.
I went through surgery to fix an umbilical hernia, and in recovery I had to wear a ‘spanx-like' compressor (this is a topic for another blog!). What I noticed when I briefly took it off is how weak and unsupported my core felt. This happens to all of us immediately following pregnancy.
While the umblical hernia was inevitable for me, The Ab Tank System would've helped with my other core-related issues. It's designed to assist your body in holding your muscles and core in place over the first 8 weeks of postpartum, so the core can heal. And there is a series of foundational core exercises included for you to work on in those 8 weeks - retraining your internal core system to work. All of which are simple, easy and safe to do the day after you have your baby.
The bottom line, prevention is key. You CAN see a PFP while pregnant. They will help you throughout pregnancy, and can help alleviate common pregnancy aches and pains. But at the very least, start using the Ab Tank immediately following delivery and go see a PFP after your 6-week postpartum check up.
REASON 2: Treatment
If you're like me, you didn’t do anything for your core health immediately after having a baby and you’re now 5 or more years past the baby stage.
A pelvic floor physiotherapist can help alleviate or eliminate issues like:
- hip and low back pain
- diastasis rectus abdominus
- pelvic organ prolapse
Don’t let embarrassment about what’s going on down there affect you from getting help.
When I finally saw a PFP, almost 7 years after having my third child, I learned I had adhesions on my pelvic floor muscles and my hips were locking up due tightness of a deep internal muscle responsible for its movement. The scar tissue on the pelvic floor muscles is a result of natural birth, and is very common. It leads to many painful side effects; for me it was hip pain.
It took me until just recently to take my own advice and see a PFP. What I'm delighted to learn, is once the PFP has released, or softened, the scar tissue and adhesions on the muscles, I won’t have to see her regularly but rather a once a year check up - provided I continue to maintain a strong internal core system. That’s money in the bank!
And if you had your babies by C-section, you’re not necessarily in the clear. You’re belly still grew, your abdominals separated and connective tissues stretched, and their was pressure on your pelvic floor muscles as well as scar tissue from the C-section both externally and internally. Checking in with a PFP to confirm everything is back as it should be is invaluable to the health of our bodies!
REASON 3: Learn how your core system is working
The pelvic floor physiotherapist I see has an ultrasound machine. The reason I love this, is because I’m a visual person. I could see right on the screen that my core system wasn’t firing properly. So, I found this very valuable to understand my internal core system.
PFP also perform an internal exam, and from there can check for scar tissue and how your pelvic floor muscles are working. By practicing your core activation with a PFP, you can be 100% sure you’re doing it right.
REASON 4: Pelvic floor health is more than a kegel
The go-to ‘exercise’ of doctors is the kegel. And while doing kegel is a great place to start, we shouldn’t depend on it to repair our postpartum bodies.
The reason - most women don’t know how to perform it properly. It’s an isometric movement, so you don’t learn how to do it in movement.
And in some cases, it can make your issues worse. For example, some women can't relax their pelvic floor muscles - this is known as hypertonic muscles. So continually trying to activate and already stressed out muscle will only bring you pain.
The only way to know your doing a pelvic floor contraction 100% correctly is through an internal exam with a pelvic floor physiotherapist.
My role with pelvic floor physiotherapists: As a Bellies Inc. Core Trainer, the philosophy and training I use was put together by Julia Di Paolo, a pelvic floor physiotherapist, in Toronto and co-founder of Bellies Inc.
Using the philosophy and foundational exercises I was taught from Bellies Inc. I’ve created an 8-week program to help women retrain and reconnect to their internal core system in movement, and start rebuilding true core strength.
I work with women who are seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist, and refer my clients as well. Assessing the internal core system and addressing internal physical issues is a piece of the puzzle to regain your core health. Learning how to use your core in exercise and daily life, is the next step.
I’m passionate and feel strongly about what I do, because not only have I experienced success with myself but have seen it with so many other women!
My wish is for all women to take time for themselves, to learn the path of foundational awareness to true core strength, and be comfortable in their body throughout every stage of life. I'm excited to be taking my 8-week core program online this fall, click here to stay connected and learn more!
For a discussion on this topic, check out my Facebook live video replay: