3 Reasons Why Pelvic Floor PT Should Be Standard Postpartum Care for All New Moms
December 14, 2021
I know I’m not the first women’s healthcare provider to feel that the standard of care for postpartum women in the United States could be much, much better.
Not to totally knock what the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is up to. On its website, ACOG outlines the components of postpartum care that should be included in the first comprehensive postpartum OB/GYN visit, which is typically scheduled for 4 to 6 weeks and no later than 12 weeks after birth. ACOG advises providers to discuss a wide range of topics with new moms, including mood and emotional well-being, infant care and feeding, sleep, and physical recovery from labor and delivery.
But I’ve heard from so many women—including patients, friends, and family members—that the postpartum care they receive still just seems…incomplete. I, for one, believe that specialized attention to pelvic floor health and function shouldn’t be left out of any postpartum recovery.
Here are three reasons why.
1. Postpartum pelvic health conditions are extremely common.
Nearly 1 in 4 women have one or more pelvic floor disorders, according to 2008 research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Importantly, the risk of pelvic floor conditions seems to increase in relation to how many times a woman has given birth (advancing age is another major risk factor).
The NIH-funded research found that compared to women who had never given birth, women who had two children had double the rate of pelvic floor disorders, and women who had three or more children had nearly three times the rate.
All this to say: women dealing with the loving (and at times stressful) chaos of stepping into their new role as mom are NOT alone if they experience signs and symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, which include:
- Urinary incontinence
- Fecal incontinence
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Abdominal separation (diastasis recti)
- Pain with sexual activity
- Vaginal or vulvar pain
- Low back pain and pelvic pain
While these signs and symptoms sometimes go away on their own, plenty of women struggle with these issues for months or even years after giving birth. And even if symptoms spontaneously “get better,” the underlying causes of those symptoms often remain….which brings me to my next point.
2. Postpartum pelvic health PT can help moms better prepare for future pregnancies.
By giving women tools and techniques to correct underlying pelvic health issues, women will be able to enter any future pregnancy with greater preparation, comfort, and confidence. That’s at least what I’ve heard from a lot of my patients! Research published in 2015 even suggests physical therapy may improve pregnancy rates in women dealing with infertility.
By the way—pelvic health physical therapy IS part of the standard of care for postpartum women in many other parts of the world, including France. So, it’s not such a wild idea for OB/GYNs to start giving new moms routine referrals to physical therapists.
3. By taking care of mom, you’re taking care of the family, too.
Let’s face it: a mother’s health and well-being impacts the well-being of the entire family!
When women are given the personalized attention and holistic support they need to heal optimally, they’ll be able to show up for their loved ones, colleagues, and communities even better than before.
Once Postpartum, Always Postpartum—Help Your Body Truly Heal With Pelvic Floor PT in Bethesda MD and McLean VA
If you were pregnant several weeks, months, or even years ago, and have yet to consult with a pelvic health specialist, contact ITR Physical Therapy to schedule an appointment with a pelvic floor physical therapist in Bethesda, MD or McLean, VA. Find out what pelvic health PT can do for you. Call 301-770-7060 now!