By Riva Preil
Young mothers face a myriad of new challenges they did not encounter prior to mother-hood. They often experience hormone related changes, sleep deprivation, and possible nursing complications, should they decide to breast feed. This is all on top of trying to lose the baby weight and return to their pre-pregnancy size. In addition, new mothers face the challenge of adjusting to the new reality of having a child and being responsible for their child’s wellbeing. Therefore, it is no surprise that many mothers inadvertently neglect the musculoskeletal related aftermath of pregnancy and delivery. Some of these changes are very significant, and may manifest later on in life if left untreated.
The Wall Street Journal recently published an article by Sarah Nassauer addressing post-partum pelvic floor dysfunction (October 14, 2013). According to Dr. Linda Brubaker, an urogynecologist and dean of the Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University Chicago, the pelvic floor “is the center of the universe” because it provides much structural support. In fact, she recommends that ALL WOMEN REQUEST PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLE STRENGTH TESTING from their doctor 4-6 weeks postpartum to make sure the muscles are functioning properly. The article also discusses that nowadays, a popular trend is to have multiple babies in close proximity and at a more advanced age. This gives the body less time to recuperate compared to spaced out pregnancies. Furthermore, more women are using in vitro fertilization treatment which increases the likelihood of twin and triplet pregnancies. Pregnancies of this nature put more stress on the pelvic floor muscles than single pregnancies. Some of the physical changes women encounter include exaggeration of the spinal curves, overstretching of the abdominal muscles (which may even lead to separation of the two halves of rectus abdominus muscle, a condition referred to as diastasis recti), internal scar tissue (after caesarean section deliveries), and overstretched pelvic floor muscles and weakness (resulting in incontinence and/or prolapse, organ descent). Fortunately, pelvic floor physical therapy can help address all of the aforementioned changes. Kudos to The Wall Street Journal for acknowledging and publicizing the benefits of pelvic floor physical therapy!