Physiotherapy Clinic in Ville-Saint-Laurent

Why Consult a Physio After Childbirth?

Everyone knows that having a child could be painful, but most assume that once labour is over, the hard work is done. Unfortunately, a significant number of new mothers experience pelvic issues after childbirth. Luckily, seeing a physiotherapist can alleviate complications, and prevent future injuries.


What are the risks?


Vaginal birth can impair pelvic health, and postpartum pelvic dysfunctions are common. 35% of new mothers experience urinary incontinence, and 20% suffer from severe pelvic floor muscle injury. This is after normal vaginal birth, when all of the body – but especially the abdomen and pelvis – goes through a lot of physical change and stress. Muscles stretch and weaken throughout pregnancy, and can tear or suffer nerve damage during labour. Complications are not limited to vaginal birth though; mothers delivering via caesarian can also suffer from pelvic floor issues, although it is less likely.


You are more at risk from postpartum pelvic floor issues if you:

  • Have twins or triplets
  • Have had children before
  • Are an older mother
  • Suffer from obesity
  • Have had pelvic surgery in the past
  • Suffer from constipation or a chronic cough


Although pelvic floor issues are common, they are not normal side effects of childbirth, and so symptoms should be investigated and treated. Without proper care, pelvic floor issues can escalate.


What are the symptoms?


Postpartum pelvic floor issues can manifest in several ways, including:

  • Urinary or bowel incontinence, including small leaks (for example, when sneezing or coughing)
  • Increased urinary frequency or urgency
  • Pain during sex
  • Pelvic pain in general, which can exhibit in the lower belly, tailbone, or in the lower back
  • Pelvic organ prolapse


If you experience any of these symptoms later than six weeks after childbirth, or have any other unusual pain or discomfort, consult your doctor.


How can a physio help?


The simplest and easiest way to treat pelvic floor dysfunction is with the help of a qualified physiotherapist, who can assess the root cause of the problem, and lead you through exercises that help resolve symptoms by strengthening muscles and restoring function. The initial assessment may include an internal exam, which is the best method for determining the condition of the pelvic floor. It may also include some bowel and bladder screening to identify any associated concerns.


Pelvic floor exercises are the best way to strengthen and retrain pelvic floor muscles; these can include kegel exercises, as well as some others focussed on core strength and bladder training. A physiotherapist can also educate you on how to safely return to normal exercise.


In very severe cases, pelvic surgery may be recommended to repair damaged muscles or to rectify organ prolapse.


Physiotherapy isn’t just helpful after childbirth; it can also assist with posture, back pain, breathing techniques and protecting the pelvic floor during pregnancy, which in turn reduces the risk of pelvic floor dysfunction postpartum.


pelvic foor physiotherapy

Pelvic floor & Physiotherapy

Pelvic floor physiotherapy is a growing field but for many patients, the concept is shrouded in mystery. So let’s take a closer look at the pelvic floor and who might need physiotherapy for this region.

What is the pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor is the collection of muscles, ligaments, connective tissues and nerves that sit in the lower pelvis and support the organs in closest proximity, such as the bladder. Pelvic floor muscles are important in assisting urinary function and bowel function. For women, the pelvic floor also underpins the uterus and vagina.

What is pelvic floor disorder?

The muscles of the pelvic floor can become weak or damaged for a number of reasons. When these muscles weaken the ‘hammock’ of muscles that support your organs, it drops down, causing one of three main types of disorder:

  1. Urinary incontinence, or lack of bladder control.
  2. Fecal incontinence, or lack of bowel control.
  3. Pelvic organ prolapse.

It is also possible for the muscles of the pelvic floor to over-tighten. This condition, known as hypertonicity, is also a form of pelvic floor dysfunction and can cause urinary and fecal urgency and chronic pelvic pain.

What can physiotherapy do to help?

Physiotherapy can be an important tool in preventing and treating pelvic floor disorders. Not all disorders require the same treatment, so it’s key to know what issue you are specifically experiencing before beginning a new treatment plan. Strengthening exercises, for example, may actually worsen hypertonicity.

For weak pelvic floors, physiotherapy can help lengthen, strengthen and tone the associated muscles. This is not just about doing kegel exercises, but also involves the core, the diaphragm, the muscles in your back and abdominals. Conversely, stretching and loosening can be achieved through physiotherapy to assist with disorders caused by over-tight muscles. A specialized physiotherapist – such as our own Mirvat Bachir, who has a Certification in Pelvic Floor Disorders – will be able to identify the cause of your issue, help you to identify the individual muscles you need to work on, and tailor your treatment according to your needs.

Who are the people at risk?

Childbirth is the main cause of pelvic floor disorder, but by no means the only. Other risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Pelvic surgery
  • Radiation treatment
  • Heavy lifting
  • Chronic constipation
  • Digestive diseases
  • Age
  • High impact exercise

Incontinence is not a natural part of aging and some common symptoms of pelvic floor disorders can be wrongly associated with it. If you experience urinary problems, either urgency or incontinence, constipation, pain or pressure in the vagina or rectum, or pelvic muscle spasms, you may have a pelvic floor disorder.

Schedule an appointment with our team of physiotherapists.

Physio Proactive, 2018.

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