Women have a high risk of developing pelvic floor dysfunction following childbirth. These are complex disorders of the ligaments and muscles that support the pelvic organs. Often, postpartum patients experience weak pelvic muscle tone, leading to further complications. Fortunately, physical therapy can help patients recover faster and improve health outcomes.
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Following Childbirth
Disabling pelvic floor dysfunction negatively impacts the social, emotional, and physical aspects of patients’ lives. Family duties associated with raising a newborn compound these adverse effects, causing extra stress and ailments for many new mothers. Often, these patients experience pain, numbness, or pressure in the pelvis. For some, the pain causes difficulty in walking and performing activities of daily living. In addition, if left untreated, pelvic floor dysfunction can progress to organ prolapse, unitary incontinence, and sexual dysfunction. So, patients need pelvic floor physical therapy which supports recovery through manual manipulation and exercises for stretching, conditioning, and relaxing pelvic floor muscles.
Physical Therapy Following Caesarean Sections
Many women in the US give birth via C-section. According to the CDC, over 31% of deliveries in 2020 were Cesarean. Despite their common use, these are complex surgeries with complications such as diastasis recti, postoperative pain, and pelvic floor dysfunction. In addition, Cesarean deliveries cause prolonged pressure in the abdomen and excessive stretching of the pelvic organs, ligaments, and muscles. Fortunately, physical therapy treatment can help the pelvic floor recover after abdominal delivery. According to a report published in the Journal of Physical Education and Sport, c-section patients who received physical therapy showed statistically significant improvements compared to those who recovered independently.
Physical Therapy Following Vaginal Birth
During vaginal delivery, the pelvic floor lowers and expands. Stretching of the perineum can lead to tears, a substantial risk factor for pelvic floor dysfunction. A recent systematic review suggests that pre- and postpartum pelvic floor muscle training improves patients’ quality of life. In addition, it helps reduce the risk of more severe complications. For example, Kegel training strengthens muscle tone and reduces pelvic floor disorder symptoms.
How long is pelvic floor recovery after childbirth?
With proper treatment, most women recover within six months. However, actual rehabilitation times depend on several factors, such as severity and treatment. Early intervention leads to faster recovery and a rapid return to a full and healthy life.
Postpartum Pelvic Floor Care
Postpartum care is about ensuring the well-being of the mother and newborn. And the pelvic floor needs special care because it changes significantly during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Likewise, a patient’s musculoskeletal system is vulnerable after giving birth. Regardless of the delivery method, physical therapy is essential to a postpartum treatment plan. Therefore, OBGYNs are wise to prescribe pelvic floor physical therapy starting on the first day of recovery.
Churchill Orthopedic Rehabilitation offers a robust women’s health program for treating pelvic floor dysfunction following childbirth. To refer a patient, call our office at 201-833-1333.