Pregnancy and delivery of your baby will cause a lot of changes in your body and the way it functions. This can present in many different ways, but understanding how to manage these changes and optimize your pregnancy and recovery is important for you and your baby.
Pre-natal pelvic floor assessment:
It is important to understand and learn how to properly strengthen and relax your pelvic floor muscles. Strengthening your pelvic floor will help support your growing baby and your other pelvic organs effectively, will minimize risk of incontinence or leaking, and will assist your recovery post-partum. Learning to relax the pelvic floor is also important to optimize the efficiency and function of your pelvic floor muscles, to help minimize low back, pelvic girdle and hip pain, and to prepare for birthing and smooth delivery of your baby. Pre-natal assessment can be done any time during your pregnancy as long as you are not considered a high-risk pregnancy. If you have any concerns, please consult your doctor.
Post-partum pelvic floor physiotherapy:
Pelvic floor assessment can be done 6-8 weeks post-partum. It is important to have a post-partum assessment to ensure optimal recovery and function of your body and the pelvic floor following pregnancy and delivery. Although this is a new and growing area of care in Canada, it has long been recognized as an important part of healthcare in Europe with the majority of post-partum women getting assessment and treatment from a trained pelvic floor physiotherapist. Assessment will look at strength and tone of your pelvic floor muscles, any signs of prolapse, scar tissue mobility, diastasis recti and postural changes and weaknesses.
It is especially important to have a post-natal physiotherapy and pelvic floor assessment if your labour involved:
A lengthy pushing phase greater than 2 hours
Use of forceps or vacuum to assist delivery
Grade 2, 3 or 4 tearing
It is also important to seek treatment if you are experiencing any of the following more than 8 weeks post delivery:
Urine leaking with coughing, sneezing, laughing, running or jumping
Heaviness or pressure around the perineum or vagina
Increased frequency or urgency to void
Incomplete emptying of your bladder/bowel
Pain in the perineum, around the vagina or pain with sexual intercourse
Pelvic girdle, low back or hip pain
Doming or sinking of the abdominals
It is also recommended to get a post-partum check before returning to impact and heavier load exercise and work-outs.