When I gave birth to my first born, 12+ years ago, I knew so little about birth, about the birthing industry, about how birth and pregnancy would dramatically alter my body. As detailed in the story of my first birth experience, it was a traumatizing birth that ended with a healthy 8 pound 12 ounce boy, but also an episiotomy, a torn anus and months of excruciating pain and discomfort.
In fact, for 6 MONTHS postpartum, I could not shit or have sex without pain. Of course, when I went for multiple follow up visits to my then OB-GYN, she examined me and said “everything looks fine.” Not once did she say “you are experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction and you can go to a pelvic floor PT who can help you feel better.”
I am here now to tell all of YOU that the pain and discomfort you may be feeling is NOT normal and that there are people who specialize in helping moms (not just new moms) with any of the following:
- painful sex
- pelvic pain
- painful pooping
- prolapse (when muscles weaken such that organs drop into the vagina)
- diastasis recti (separation of the abdominals)
It is always shocking to me that OB’s don’t as a matter of course refer moms to PT’s post birth, but for whatever reason, they generally do not. From my birthing experiences, it seems that doctors who practice the “medical model of care” – as opposed to the “midwifery model of care” – focus only on having a healthy baby and your vagina can go fuck itself.
And guess what? If you give birth in France, you are sent home with a pelvic floor physical therapist and it’s FREE. In the US, we’re sent home with a package of Enfamil and radio silence about what we might feel down there and what if anything we can do to feel ok.
So, what do Pelvic Floor PT’s do exactly? Depending on your circumstances, they typically stick their fingers inside of you to assess whether you are experiencing tightness or weakness in your pelvic floor and then they help you stretch or strengthen the muscles that are not functioning properly.
One thing that is extremely important to mention here – because most women are not informed about this — women who are experiencing some sort of pelvic floor issue, such as incontinence, often assume that their pelvic floor is weak and needs tightening so they assume they should do kegels up the wazoo and that will help alleviate their problem. That assumption is wrong. In fact, often times when a woman pees just a little bit, it is because her pelvic floor is too tight and doing kegels will just make the condition worsen. How do you find out whether kegels are the right solution for you? You see a pelvic floor PT.
If any of this rings true for you, or if you’re not sure whether what you’re experiencing is normal, please do yourself a favor and make an appointment with a PT – contact me, I have awesome people to refer you to. Again, no one told me any of this back in 2005 when I was suffering post birth. Now it is part of my mission to inform and educate moms so you guys don’t have to suffer too.