Childbirth is amazing! But it can also be hard on a woman’s body.
Many women struggle with urinary or bowel incontinence and pelvic pain after childbirth, which can negatively impact their daily activities and even cause pain during intercourse. If that’s you, you don’t need to feel embarrassed, frustrated, or out of control. Pelvic floor dysfunction is more common than you might realize!
UnityPoint Health – Des Moines is here to help. Physical therapists, like Shelley Dreibelbeis, Tarra Richard or Peggy Scott, can help you get back to feeling like your old self again quicker than you might think.
Pelvic Physical Therapy Q&A
What kinds of issues do you see with the women in your practice?
For women of childbearing age, I can see them both before and after birth. During pregnancy, I see many women with back pain. Exercises and manual therapy are very beneficial. Sometimes back support belts are recommended. After delivery, I see women for back pain, pelvic pain, urinary or bowel incontinency, or pelvic floor tightness that may cause pain. Some women can have significant separation of the abdominal muscles, called diastasis rectus abdominus, and may benefit from exercise to improve the coordination of the abdominal muscles to decrease back pain and improve the function and appearance of the abdominal muscles. I also see women of all ages for urinary incontinence, pelvic floor relaxations and pelvic pain, including painful sex.
How common are pelvic physical therapy issues?
Many of these issues are very common. Incontinence can affect women of all ages, including young athletes. There are different kinds of incontinence, including stress incontinence, which is loss of urine with coughing, sneezing or jumping, and urge incontinence, which is the “gotta go” feeling.
Is there an easy fix?
Many of these issues have simple solutions such as manual therapy, exercise, and education.
What would you like women (and their partners) to know about pelvic physical therapy issues and their treatment options?
Most importantly, do not be afraid to discuss these issues with your healthcare provider. Many women are afraid to talk about incontinence and pelvic pain. They are very common and there are solutions. Additionally, new moms need to remember to take care of themselves, including getting enough rest, using good body mechanics, and gradually getting back into an exercise program. The body takes at least 6 to 8 weeks to begin recovery from pregnancy and delivery.
About the author, Shelley Dreibelbeis
Shelley Dreibelbeis is a physical therapist at UnityPoint Health Physical Therapy – Penn Avenue and at UnityPoint Clinic OB/GYN – Ankeny. She has been a physical therapist for over 30 years. Shelley works primarily with patients who have orthopedic problems like back, knee, or shoulder pain. She also sees patients with female-specific health issues, as well as pelvic floor issues in both men and women. Her patients range in age from women of all ages from teenagers to 90 plus years old!