Everyone loves a pregnant woman! The bump, the excitement of new life, and of course the new baby! But what happens to the mother after the baby comes? Who looks after the mother when she looks after the baby?
Did you know that babies get a minimum of eight well visits in the first year of life? Can you guess how many visits a new mother receives? One...that’s it, ONE!! One visit at six weeks (or eight with c-sections) to “check” that you are healed. Your OB quickly examines you and if everything “looks good” you are told you can go back to exercise, intercourse, and the previous activities you did prior to pregnancy.
Who is there to guide these women? “Do your kegels” your OB says but can you even find those muscles? After all, a baby just came out of there! And what if it hurts to do kegels, or have intercourse? What if it feels like your insides are falling out when you pick up your baby?
WHAT IF you pee on yourself?
These are the things that your OB doesn’t talk to you about? If you're lucky, you might have an older sister or friend who’s gone through the same thing who shares some helpful “tips”.
If you’re really lucky, someone in your tribe will share with you the great secret; pelvic floor therapy.
Wait, there is therapy for my PELVIC FLOOR? YES! Pelvic floor therapy is a branch of physical therapy that looks at all the muscles of the pelvic floor in relationship to function and guides you on how to heal from the inside out. You are NOT alone! Complications that arise in the postpartum period include pelvic pain, pain with intercourse, pelvic organ prolapse, abdominal separation, urinary leakage, and more.
Sadly, in the United States, OB’s don’t typically refer a patient to pelvic floor therapy. That is not the case in other developed countries. In France every woman receives a referral to pelvic floor therapy for postpartum care. This needs to be standard of care in the US!
So please, don’t suffer in silence! Advocate for yourself and your care! Educate your friends! Receiving care early will help prevent complications in later years! We are always here as a resource!
Dr. Jennifer McCauley is an Orthopedic and Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist and Co-Owner of Inspire Physical Therapy and Wellness in Southlake, TX.