Updated: May 13, 2019
Pelvic floor physical therapy should be a standard of care for postpartum folks in the United States, just like it is in other parts of the world. This is my attempt to make that possible.
The perinatal package was created with the idea in mind that pelvic floor assessments and rehab should be a routine part of recovery following pregnancy and delivery. During and following pregnancy, you are at higher risk for conditions like leakage, prolapse and pelvic pain, some of which can be minimized or managed with the right information, exercise and management. That's the goal of the perinatal package!
This package is perfect for people who are feeling good throughout pregnancy, who want more information on how to stay that way.
Research has shown us a few promising finds in regards to using specialized pelvic floor exercises to keep you healthy throughout and following pregnancy. One of those includes:
"Women who began exercising during pregnancy were less likely to report leakage in late pregnancy and up to six months after birth (1)."
That's right! You don't have to leak. This is not a "normal" part of being a mother.
The Perinatal Package Includes 3 Visits:
A Prenatal Visit
This visit during pregnancy is used to talk about how to best manage any aches or pains you've been experiencing, as well as how to decrease your risk for many common conditions that occur during and following pregnancy and delivery. We look at your movement habits and discuss modifications for exercise and daily activities that may be contributing to any potential issues. We also talk about bladder, bowel and sexual health as well as what should and should not be expected postpartum.
We also do a physical assessment of your pelvic floor and other muscles throughout your pelvic girdle to help create a personalized exercise plan for you! The ultimate goal for this visit is to make you feel like you know what to expect and how to best manage and mitigate any symptoms throughout the rest of your pregnancy and in the first few weeks postpartum.
A 3 Week Follow Up
This visit is intended to be a check in. I like to use this visit to discuss any concerns you may have and any questions that may have come up in the past few weeks. This visit will also be used to do a quick postpartum physical assessment and start you on a gentle strengthening and movement program to keep you safe as you begin moving around more.
A 6 Week Follow Up
At 6 weeks, if all goes smoothly, you'll likely be cleared for intercourse and physical activity. This visit is meant to allow for a pelvic floor exam to assess strength and tension. This allows us to create the best pelvic floor rehabilitation program for you, specifically.
We'll also arm you with all the information you need to get yourself back to exercise and activities you want to return to. While you will likely not be ready to begin these at the 6 week mark, you will learn how to progress yourself back to them safely. We will also talk about returning to intercourse at this time, what it should feel like and things you can do to help yourself manage any discomfort you may experience.
"If you sprain your ankle, you'll probably need some time away from sports and some PT to guide you in order to protect yourself from further injury. Pregnancy and delivery are much more shocking to our systems than an ankle sprain."
Generally speaking, pelvic floor physical therapy helps ensure you are safe while recovering from pregnancy and delivery. I like to think of it this way: If you sprain your ankle, you'll probably need some time away from sports and some PT to guide you in order to avoid further injury. Pregnancy and delivery are much more shocking to our systems than an ankle sprain. Physical therapy can help guide you back to activities ranging from sex to running, and help make sure your bladder and body continues to do what you need it to do.
Have questions about the perinatal package or pelvic floor physical therapy? Give us a call or contact us here!
Woodley SJ, Boyle R, Cody JD, Mørkved S, Hay-Smith EC. How effective are pelvic floor muscle exercises undertaken during pregnancy or after birth for preventing or treating incontinence? 22 December 2017. https://www.cochrane.org/CD007471/INCONT_how-effective-are-pelvic-floor-muscle-exercises-undertaken-during-pregnancy-or-after-birth