Pelvic Floor Pain: Where to Find Support
by Alexis Barad-Cutler
When I was pregnant with my first son, I half-committed to doing regular Kegel exercises. I mainly wanted to be able to joke with my friends that I was doing my part (by strengthening my vaginal walls) to “keep the flames alive” after my baby would inevitably, upon birth, destroy my vagina. I also knew that the exercises had something to do with strengthening my pelvic muscles for labor, but didn’t think about it all that much. After my cesarean-section, I gave any kind of abdominal exercise little to no thought altogether — until I was cleared to do my sit ups again. Strengthening my “pelvic floor” (the collection of muscles and other tissues that supports your bladder, rectum, uterus and other internal organs) seemed like something I only had to worry about in preparation for a vaginal delivery. I didn’t think I would ever have to worry about it after giving birth via cesarean. It wasn’t until years later, when what I thought was a dance injury, revealed pelvic floor dysfunction that could have been avoided had I known how important it was to strengthen my core with targeted pelvic floor exercise — and even physical therapy.
And while countries like France include pelvic floor “reeducation” as part of their postpartum “package” for every new mom, the U.S. remains very lacking in postpartum care offerings, and resources. Beyond the six -week checkup, there is little support for moms when it comes to the care of their postpartum bodies, and making sure everything is in working order. Many of us don’t even know what to look for when thinking about signs of pelvic floor dysfunction — which can include urinary and bowel incontinence, prolapse, painful intercourse; pain in the vagina, clitoris, vulva, perineum, bladder, and rectum, and back pain. Often, our own OBGYNs are not aware of pelvic floor physical therapy as an option — and may even recommend more invasive procedures to help fix our symptoms. A physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor can help with all kinds of postpartum pain — including episiotomy and labial tear pain and complications in ways a regular doctor may not know about.
This week on Mom Group, we talked about some of the complications we’ve suffered during labor, and birth — as well as some of the affordable, or online resources that we have found to be helpful. Here they are, for your reference and use:
Resources and Recommendations:
“Look for the hash tag #fourthdegreetear on here and use the search terms on Facebook. You’ll find a wonderful support group. Fourth Degree Tear support group (Facebook).” – H.
“Dr. Sarah Duvall has a lot of free resources on her IG and website. She’s a physio who specialises in pelvic floor/postpartum rehab.” — M.
“If any of your followers are in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas, we accept insurance (mainly Medicare and PPOs but are in-net with 3 HMOs) and verify out of network benefits. It’s called Women’s Advantage and we have 3 offices throughout south LA county. — @drq_dpt
@mommyberrieshealth has amazing pelvic floor content and info. Even an online course you can take! — K.
“I’ve noticed some providers like @mamasandmisses_pt work off of a cash only model, so that you know the price going in instead of playing the insurance dance. She and others provide digital therapy so that clients don’t have to be nearby to find a provider they can afford.” – A.
“Kimberly Ann Johnson of @Magamamas would be a great resource and perhaps consider vaginal steams.” – L.”A women’s health pt/ot is a great resource for help w perineal and episiotomy scars. @functionalpelvis has a wonder scar massage pdf on her website. Other great resources are @thevaginawhisperer and @mypelvicfloormuscles.” – I.