Pelvic floor is the term for the muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue that support the female abdominal contents like the uterus, bladder, vagina, and bowel. My favorite thing about the pelvic floor (as if I have so many things that I like about it) is that people describe the muscles themselves by saying, "the muscles you use to Kegel," and they describe Kegel-ing by saying, "You know, contract your pelvic floor muscles, the muscles you use to stop and start your flow of urine." Well, now that that is all perfectly clear to those who haven't done an anatomy class or who aren't OBGYN's. Honestly, I have seen and dissected the muscles in anatomy class and also done my fare share of pelvic exams during medical school and residency, and you still need to train yourself how to use them and Kegel properly, especially after pregnancy when everything is a wee bit different down there.
Pelvic floor dysfunction encompasses a wide range of issues that result from weakened pelvic floor muscles that ranges from urinary or fecal incontinence to uterine or other pelvic organ prolapse. There can be impairment of the sacroiliac joint, lumbar spine, coccyx, or hip joints. The surrounding tissues can have increased or decreased neurosensitivity leading to pelvic pain. Pelvic floor syndrome is more of a pain syndrome that could mean that you have pain with intercourse or experience pelvic pain even after 6 months postpartum. This is all so uplifting, isn't it? Don't worry, I am writing this blog to help!
The major known causes of pelvic floor dysfunction are obesity, menopause, pregnancy, and childbirth. There may be an inherited deficiency in collagen in some women that makes them more prone to developing these problems. They have researched whether pelvic floor syndrome results more from traumatic births or methods of delivery, but the percentages are the same if women had vaginal births vs. C-section, so it's really about all that time your body and your collagen adapted to carry your baby in your uterus during pregnancy. At least 1/3 of women will have one of the conditions that make up pelvic floor syndrome during their lifetime.
I would really recommend that all women get a functional movement screening after pregnancy by a trainer, physical therapist, or Sports physician. This way the problem areas can be targeted before too much stress is applied to the joints and to the anatomic positioning that has taken 9 months of pregnancy and however long postpartum to develop.
What? You mean being patient as a mom extends past just motherhood and relates to all of your life now? Know that it takes time to retrain all of the neuromuscular adaptations that brought you that amazing baby of yours.
|Dr. Eliza Myers (A.K.A. Superwoman) fitting |
in exercises with her daughter during pregnancy! She
used the DIA Method to help with diastasis recti.