Postpartum Pelvic Floor Pain
4 Min Read
Post-pregnancy pain, whether it be pelvic floor pain or joint pain, is a shared experience among many postpartum people. However, postpartum pain, especially in pelvic pain, can vary in frequency, length, and intensity. Some people may only experience short-term pain that lasts the first 4 – 8 weeks of their recovery and others may suffer from pelvic pain for up to or over a year after they’ve given birth.
Pelvic organ prolapse and other forms of pelvic floor dysfunction are very common among postpartum people. Symptoms can vary in duration and severity, but many women are likely to experience a variety of symptoms during and after their pregnancy. At Restore Your Core, we’ve noticed similarities in many of our client’s stories. Some of the most common pelvic floor complications our clients experience include:
- Urinary incontinence
- Fecal incontinence
- Pain during intercourse
- Vaginal pain
- Rectal pain
- Low back pain
- Pelvic pain
- Diastasis Recti – separation of the abdominal muscles
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Pubic bone pain
- Pelvic girdle pain
Pelvic floor pain can be treated and relieved in many ways. Whether you visit a pelvic floor physical therapist or take part in a program like Restore Your Core, movement specialist or your physical therapists will utilize exercise methods designed to strengthen and restore function to your core, pelvic floor muscles, and relieve any painful symptoms you may be experiencing.
In this article I will attempt to address the most commonly asked questions regarding pelvic pain after giving birth.
How Long Does it Take for Your Pelvic Floor to Recover After Childbirth?
After giving birth, your pelvic floor and core muscles will be in the process of healing for at least a year. Although many women may begin being active again after the first 8 weeks postpartum, often pelvic pain and the symptoms of diastasis recti may be experienced for months postpartum. Both your core and your pelvic region have gone through significant changes in order to accommodate your baby. Attempting to quickly get back into an exercise or workout routine may be unhelpful in your recovery – especially if you are already experiencing complications or painful symptoms.
Every postpartum person is different and the recovery length can change depending on many factors. Healing can take anywhere from a few months to over a year, depending on whether or not there are underlying conditions which may be increasing the pain. While there are no overnight success stories, there are many many success stories of people like you who have healed their pelvic organ prolapse by taking these steps slowly and surely.
However, there are many things you can begin doing now to help begin the healing process. Here is a video summary covering some of the steps you can take to begin healing your pelvic floor.
Is it Normal for Your Pelvis to Hurt After Pregnancy?
Yes! Postpartum pelvic pain is very common. During childbirth, your ligaments and joints become loose as your body is adapting to your child’s weight, abdominal separation, and increased heaviness in your pelvic floor. It is common to experience pain in your pelvic girdle, hips, and joints as a result. Light recovery exercises and movement can also cause minimal pain as you begin strengthening your pelvic floor muscles. Seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist or enrolling in a yoga or postpartum exercise program can help relieve urinary incontinence, back pain, and other postpartum pelvic issues.
How Can I Heal My Pelvic Floor After Delivery?
Pelvic floor physical therapy can be a great treatment program for you and your postpartum pain. A pelvic floor therapist will help create an individualized plan to help target your specific symptoms, condition, and your own recovery goals. Similarly, Restore Your Core can help you become a part of a community of people focused on health and function without promoting unnecessary, culturally influenced slim body programs. Our Restore Your Core Program will help relieve any postpartum pelvic pain, provide treatment options involving exercises for symptoms (i.e. urinary incontinence, pelvic, back, and core pain), education regarding proper breathing patterns, posture, and poses, as well as additional tips and guidance on how to safely and effectively recover from postpartum pain.
What is Pelvic Floor Therapy Postpartum?
Pelvic floor physical therapy treatment options may vary depending on the severity of your condition. If you decide to see a physical therapist, you’ll have an initial assessment to determine what treatment will be best. An assessment can include vaginal and rectal manual palpations. Palpations can help determine the strength of your core and pelvic floor muscles, areas of tenderness and pain, as well as muscle tightness.
We do not offer physical therapy, but movement therapy. Restore Your Core specializes in exercise treatment as well as education for women suffering from pelvic floor pain and any other postpartum issues. Below is a list of several exercises we cover in our program.
Supported Slight Backbend Pelvic Stretch:
This is a fantastic pelvic stretcher. Using a pillow or bolster of some kind, gently lower your back to rest on top of the pillow. Once in position, slowly bring your feet together so the soles of your feet are touching. Keep your knees bent, but gently allow them to open sideways. If you feel any discomfort at all in your back or inner thighs, you can use pillows for further support or get rid of the bolster. Relax after 30 seconds or more (roughly 15 to 20 breaths)
Supported Pelvic Squat:
This stretch is an incredible hip and pelvis stretch. Grab a low stool or a stack of books and with your feet spread wide and toes pointed out sideways, gradually extend your buttocks and lower yourself to the blocks. If you are struggling to balance yourself, it may be helpful to use a wall for back support. It is important that if you experience any discomfort during these stretches that you reposition yourself until you can firmly plant your feet and bend without pain. Stay in a squatted position for close to 30 seconds (5-10 deep breaths), stand back up, relax, and repeat several times. Please note, that for some people with prolapse – a deep squat can really irritate and aggravate things due to bearing down, so be sure to only do this one if you feel comfortable that you are not bearing down in a low squat.
Yoga for Pelvic Floor Muscle Relaxation
Legs up the wall:
This exercise offers a lot of people relief from their symptoms and it is a great way to downtrain the pelvic floor. I always teach this with a block / pillows / blankets under the hips for elevation. The elevation is pretty key so be sure to get your hips on something. Elevate your hips and simply bring your legs up a wall. Move closer or further away from the wall depending on your body and comfort. Stay for 3-4 relaxing breaths and then you have a few options. One is to bend your knees and have the soles of your feet touching while still leaning legs against the wall. Adjust your body to make this more comfortable. No stress or tension in your hips. The other is to simply bend your knees and place the soles of your feet on the floor and relax your pelvis and pelvic floor and finally, option #3 is to open your legs wide and keep them against the wall while straddled. Find the position that best allows you to relax and release. Hold for 5-8 breaths.