By Amy Vander Linden

Pregnancy and delivery can be such a magical time, but it can also be extremely difficult and painful. Dreams or plans we may have for how it should go often crash and burn. Women have no idea that so many issues they are told are normal are in fact treatable and they don’t have to suffer. Pelvic floor physical therapy needs to be part of healthcare for all women.

After delivery…
• 35% of new moms experience stress urinary incontinence (peeing with coughing, sneezing and laughing) in the postpartum period.
• More than 50% of women have diastatis rectus after pregnancy. (A separation of the abs from their central tendon, the leading cause of low back pain, stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.)
• 20% of first-time moms show severe pelvic floor muscle injury after a normal pregnancy/delivery.
• 25% of women with pregnancy-related pelvic pain during pregnancy continue to have pain after delivery.

Common postpartum complaints:
• Urinary difficulties. Women with urinary incontinence leak urine when they sneeze, cough, or run. Some women feel a frequent or sudden urge to urinate, even when their bladder isn’t full. Others are unable to start the flow of urine at will or empty their bladder completely when urinating.
• Perineum pain. (The perineum is the area of skin between the vagina and the anus.) This symptom is common with tearing or an episiotomy. In addition, tight pelvic floor muscles cause some to experience persistent perineum pain, even after their wound heals. This often contributes to sex being painful.
• Pelvic pain. Some women have pain during sex for many months or even years after childbirth. And some have chronic vulvar pain, burning or itching. Others have pain during bowel movements. These symptoms are often caused by tight pelvic floor muscles, which can lead to inflamed tissue and nerves.
• Pelvic organ prolapse. When pregnancy and childbirth weaken the pelvic floor muscles the uterus, bladder, and/or bowel can slip out of place. Rehabilitating these muscles can help prevent or improve this condition.
• C-sections scars. Scar tissue can grow like vines if left untreated. It is critical to release and resolve this restriction to prevent further impact on pelvic structures, most commonly leading to back pain and incontinence.

Did you know that there is a type of physical therapy specifically for recovering from pregnancy and delivery? There are so many great resources here in the Glendale/Peoria area and we often collaborate with other providers to ensure the best recovery for mom and baby. We are so passionate about helping women realize that they can get their health, fitness and bodies back after children. We offer support and information to make it all easier. Visit momentoftruthpt.com to learn more.

Amy Vander Linden has been a physical therapist for 20 years and loves helping women feel healthy, whole and regain their sense of self. She can be reached at [email protected]