We've all seen the jokes on social media.... You know the ones: moms who make videos about how they'll never jump on a trampoline again, or how they stop to cross their legs before they sneeze.
Spoiler alert: it's not normal to pee a little after childbirth.
It's also not normal to poop a little, have pain with sex, feel like your core/back is super weak, or to have it feel like anything is falling out of your vaginal opening, like your bladder.
Let's be clear: all of these things are common. If you're experiencing them, you're not alone! But they're absolutely not things that you should live with for the rest of your life...like your grandma did.
Schedule an appointment with a pelvic floor physical therapist today!
What is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that holds up your bladder, uterus, and rectum. The muscles almost acts as a little hammock for your organs.
It's actually very common to have weak pelvic floor muscles, even if you've never been pregnant.
But if you have been pregnant, your risk of pelvic floor dysfunction increases, even if you have a Cesarean birth. Why? Two things: the stress of labor and pushing can be really hard on the muscles. But also, the weight of the baby is heavy on the pelvic floor muscles for 9 months. So unfortunately, delivery method won't "save" you from peeing yourself.
My personal experience with pelvic floor PT:
I had 3 babies in 4 years. After the birth of my third, I found myself leaking urine and stool whenever I walked a long distance, squatted down while holding the baby, or jumped a little too hard. During maternity leave, I just lived with it. But when it was time to go back to my office job, I started to get nervous... would I be changing my underwear in the office bathroom multiple times a day? What if I unintentionally pooped myself during a meeting - would it stink? Would everyone know??
I had a home birth, so my midwife team didn't have a PT on staff. To find a provider, I called my health insurance, and found out that I don't need a referral for pelvic floor PT. So I found an in-network provider through a local clinic.
I went in for my first appointment, and told the PT my symptoms. She asked to measure the strength of my muscles. To do this, she would insert her fingers into my vagina and feel while I clenched my muscles.
I carry some past trauma, and having someone's fingers in my vagina sounded like the worst thing in the world. I declined, and expected to have to walk out of her office without help.
But then she let me know there was another way: she stuck a monitor to my butt cheeks and used a machine to measure the strength instead. Still minorly invasive (my underwear was off...), but somewhat manageable for me.
She diagnosed me with a weak pelvic floor, and sent me home to do Kegels.
Not the care I was looking for. After a 90-minute appointment, I expected to leave with real strength-building exercises.
I quit in-person PT, and went virtual
I was really hoping for more support than I got from my clinic PT. I wanted exercises that would truly build my strength back up postpartum, and help me start running again. My midwife had "cleared" me for exercise at my 6-week postpartum appointment, but I knew my body was too weak to jump back in to a workout program without professional support.
I was 12 weeks postpartum, and back at work full time. I had started at a new company, and had zero PTO, so no time for appointments. I decided to try virtual PT instead, and hired: Your Postpartum PT.
She doesn't take insurance, but paying her in cash for an entire 8 week program ended up being almost the same out-of-pocket cost as my single appointment with the clinic PT.
The first thing I asked Jess was: how can you provide PT services without ever testing the strength of my muscles?
She was like, "oh that's easy. I don't have to know how "weak" you are. You just tell me your symptoms, and I'll believe you. I'll give you exercises to treat your symptoms".
Working with Jess was a game changer. I described what was going on during our virtual calls, and she showed me examples of exercises that would help. After the call, she created 20-30 minute workouts for me, and uploaded them to an app. I logged into the app every day and followed along with the videos Jess provided me.
The workouts started out slow, but built up quickly. By the end of the 8 week program I was back to light running a few times a week, and was dripping in sweat after every session instead of urine...or stool.
Looking for your own pelvic floor PT?
We highly recommend that anyone who has birthed a baby go see a pelvic floor PT before resuming exercise (or if you're experiencing pain, leaking, etc.). We recommend the following providers:
Motion PT: clinic locations in St. Paul, and Minnetonka.
Moms in Motion PT: Mobile PT that comes to your home (Twin Cities, Minnesota).
Your Postpartum PT: virtual (Pacific coast time zone).
Have you ever gone to a pelvic floor PT? Tell us in the comments what your experience was like!