Having a baby can be a wonderful experience, but for some mothers it can also lead to inconvenient and uncomfortable post-partum symptoms, such as incontinence and pelvic pain or tightness.
Some mothers believe those symptoms are normal after pregnancy and childbirth, but they aren’t, says Donna Pagano, a physical therapist and specialist in pelvic health with Tidelands Health Rehabilitation Services at Murrells Inlet.
“A lot of the time, mothers either assume those issues are typical or are too embarrassed to talk about them,” Pagano says. “Help is available.”
One option that works for many women is pelvic physical therapy, a specialized form of care that focuses on what’s known as the “pelvic floor.” This important muscle group plays a role in urination, defecation and sexual pleasure.
Pelvic floor muscles can be weakened or damaged during pregnancy and childbirth, Pagano says. Pelvic physical therapy seeks to restore normal function by strengthening those muscles and reestablishing their normal movement.
A typical evaluation for a postpartum mother can include an evaluation of a patient’s medical history, orthopedic assessment to examine the body’s alignment and movement patterns, as well an internal vaginal or rectal exam to look at the musculoskeletal components of the pelvic region, Pagano says.
Pregnancy recovery is only one purpose of pelvic physical therapy, though, she says. Pagano also helps people who are recovering after prolapses, or who struggle with chronic constipation or muscle weakness associated surgical repairs of the rectum, bladder, vagina and uterus.
In some cases, problems with the pelvic floor are rooted with issues somewhere else in the body, she said. That’s why it’s important for your physical therapist to consider your body as a complete unit when offering care.