Restoring Your Core and Pelvic Floor After Giving Birth

Bringing new life into the world is a magical and wonderful experience that women are able to experience. During pregnancy, the body changes and adapts in numerous ways to accommodate and grow new life. Following delivery, both vaginal or cesarean, the postnatal period is a critical time in which the body recovers and heals while meeting the new physical demands of childcare. The postnatal period is often one of the most neglected times in a woman’s life, as the focus tends to be placed on the needs of the baby, by both new mothers and healthcare professionals.

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The postnatal period can last up to 6 months following delivery

However, symptoms and problems resulting from changes occuring during pregnancy can persist beyond 6 months if they are not properly diagnosed and treated. Some common problems include: incontinence, pelvic pain, pelvic organ prolapse, sexual pain, abdominal separation, low back pain, neck pain, foot pain, and poor posture. Dysfunction in the core and pelvic floor are the most common causes of the problems mentioned above. The core is actually a group of deep muscles in the abdomen and pelvis and includes the diaphragm, the transverse abdominis, the multifidus, and the pelvic floor. These muscles serve to protect our organs, provide stability and support to the low back and pelvis during movement to prevent injury, maintain proper body alignment, control bladder and bowel functions, aid sexual function, and assist circulation.

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During pregnancy the growing uterus and hormonal changes may cause laxity of connective tissues, and the labor process can cause these muscles to become overstretched, weakened, overactive, or overly tense leading to dysfunction. The good news is, identifying and treating dysfunctions of these muscles can restore the core and pelvic floor’s ability to perform their jobs properly. There are several signs that can help you identify core and pelvic floor dysfunction and they include:

Signs of Core Dysfunction:

  • Feeling of weakness in the abdominals
  • Low back pain
  • Pelvic pain or discomfort
  • Poor posture
  • Incontinence
  • Palpable gap between stomach muscles

Signs of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction:

  • Low back pain
  • Pain with sitting
  • Hip pain
  • Abdominal pain or pressure
  • Tailbone pain
  • Burning/throbbing sensations in/around vagina
  • Pain with sexual intercourse
  • Constipation or pain with bowel movements
  • Difficulty holding urine/feces
  • Urine leakage with running, jumping, squatting, sneezing, coughing, laughing
  • Changes in urine stream
  • Sense of urinary urgency or frequency
  • Burning sensation during urination
Restoring your core and pelvic floor are an essential part of the postnatal recovery period and can assist in regaining confidence in your body, preventing long-term complications, and improving your quality of life. If you have any signs of core or pelvic floor dysfunction, or have been diagnosed with a specific condition, a physical therapist trained in pelvic health can identify and treat your specific problems. Don’t hesitate to seek professional guidance as these issues can be treated conservatively and don’t need to become your new normal.

Jessica Lott is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, living in Taipei since 2021. She is from the United States and has been living and working in Asia since 2014. Prior to living in Taiwan, she lived in Shanghai, China where she worked as a Physical Therapist at Shanghai United Family Hospital and UP Clinic. Jessica has experience treating various conditions and injuries and works with individuals of all ages. She is passionate about physical health, wellness, and helping people achieve their goals.

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