Any woman who has been through childbirth can tell you that what the pelvic floor goes through is nothing short of a heroic feat. The muscles, connective tissue, nerves and blood vessels all have to make way for a whole person to pass through. Although it may be a very small person, it is a good sized object in relation to the vaginal opening. For many women, these tissues are slow to recover and may not return to their pre-pregnancy state.
Incontinence, which is the involuntary loss of urine, gas, or stool, is one of the most common post-pregnancy related complaints. Women may experi- ence this when returning to exercise or while laughing. This incontinence is primarily due to trauma the muscles, supporting connective tissue, and nerves, sustained during labor.
In addition to incontinence, the im- balance within the pelvic floor leads new moms to experience back, hip and pelvic pain. Some moms find they have pain with intercourse or a diminished or absent orgasm following their labor. Urinary frequency, urgency, or retention can occur, as can constipation. In some cases women experience uterine prolapse, a condition in which the uterus begins to move downward in the pelvis due to a lack of support from muscles and connective tissues. All of these symptoms, while common, are not normal issues new moms should have to just accept as part of mommy life.
What can be done to help prevent or treat these common complaints? It is a funny thing that here in the United States women are instructed to begin kegels once they are cleared to resume exercise and sexual activity, usually at 6 weeks postpartum, but that no other treatments are offered. However, in other countries, such as France, women are prescribed about 10 to 20 pelvic floor therapy sessions to rehabilitate the muscles and prevent incontinence, as well as other ailments associated with pelvic floor dysfunction. Kegels may indeed be a powerful exercise, however, if you are not performing them correctly or have a preexisting muscle imbalance you will likely do more to reinforce poor muscle function than to strengthen those which are weak.
What women need is pelvic floor care that aims to strengthen the pelvic floor tissues, release myofascial trigger points that are causing pain and reconnect the woman’s awareness to this area of the body. This is exactly what holistic pelvic care does for women. It trains their pelvic floor to once again be supportive to their organs and to release patterns of pain.
As a Holistic Pelvic Care Specialist™and Naturopathic Doctor, I utilize manual therapies and breath work to help patients build balanced strength through their pelvic floor. I also work with women to mobilize scar tissue to help release any pain patterns it may be creating in the pelvic floor. In addition to the Holistic Pelvic Care™, I may utilize other therapies such as manual manipulation of the pelvic bones, therapeutic yoga postures, nutritional supplements to aid tissue recovery and strengthening, and herbal preparations to promote tissue healing and circulation.
My patients report not only resolution of symptoms, but also a renewed joy in life as they are able to return to the activities they love.