Confessions of a Pelvic PT

Many of my patients ask why I got into this field of PT. Honestly it has been an evolving process which started with pregnancy and the birth of my first child. My pregnancy was overall good and I ran through most of my pregnancy despite the disapproving looks from my colleagues and family. I went hard all day and crashed on the couch at the end of the day unable to move due to exhaustion and resorting to hot pad every night due to sacral pain. I accepted exhaustion and pain as part of the process.

The delivery of my first child began with an induction followed by 30 plus hours of labor and 3 hours of pushing. Despite my request to push in a different position I had to stay on my back because the nurse said that it was the only way to monitor the baby and keep him safe. I was told to hold my breath and push! When we returned home I had so much tail bone pain that I could not even walk to the mailbox until 2 weeks post postpartum. It was painful to sit. I assumed that most women felt this way after child birth.

For months after child birth I was experiencing leakage. It was not improving and was worse when I attempted to return to running. As a physical therapist I had heard of pelvic PT but was frustrated that I could not cure myself. Pride aside I asked my doctor if there was anything I could do about these issues. He thought it would improve over time. I asked if I could try pelvic PT and he agreed.

My PT included biofeedback standing alone in a room with a computer. I did experience some improvement in symptoms but decided to discontinue because I was embarrassed and also because it seemed like something I could now do at home. As a PT I thought there must be more to this than biofeedback. In other areas of PT we do manual work, exercises and home programs and address the person as a whole, not just one area. So my journey began.

I started taking classes in pelvic PT and my eyes were opened and so many of my questions were answered. There was so much to learn about the pelvic floor that I did not learn in school! Over the past 9 years of learning about the pelvic floor and women’s health I have realized that I had a coccyx injury, diastasis recti and pelvic organ prolapse, perineal scar tissue and a weak pelvic floor which all contributed to the leakage and pain I had felt. I realized that biofeedback was an important part of my therapy but my therapy should have included coccyx, scar tissue and pelvic floor muscle manual treatment and exercises for my diastasis recti and education on how to progress my exercises for functional activities such as lifting, cleaning, caring for my baby and running. After my third baby and a lot of self PT I have been able to return to sitting, running, weight lifting and even jumping without leakage or pain.

So long story short, I became a pelvic PT to learn how to improve my symptoms and to help other women who are experiencing symptoms. There is so much knowledge and help available for women during pregnancy and after child birth. It all starts with HOW you take care of yourself before and during pregnancy, how you deliver the baby and how you rehabilitate yourself after delivery. A little knowledge and understanding of how your body and pelvic floor function goes a long way for preventing and treating problems that occur during pregnancy and child birth. It makes sense that in France all women have pelvic physical therapy to restore their bodies after child birth.

It helps to know that having pubic, tailbone, low back pain, urinary or bowel leakage, prolapse, and diastasis recti and pain with sex are all common after child birth but certainly not normal. Ask your doctor about pelvic PT or in Michigan you can go directly to your physical therapist without a referral to consult about your concerns.

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